There is a legend in the 17th century that tells the story of a woman whose face turned to that of a pig’s, thanks to the power of witchcraft. According to the story, after the wedding of a man and the pig-faced woman, a witch offered a choice to the man: either the woman will appear beautiful to him and pig-faced to others, or she will appear beautiful to others, but pig-faced to him. When the man left the choice to the woman, the spell was broken, and her pig-faced appearance ended with it.
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As time went on, the stories evolved, and then evolved to rumors. People reported sightings of the pig-faced lady. And then people turned it into reality at the freak shows by stuffing drunk bears into dresses.
People now wanted to see a pig-faced woman, rather than be merely told there’s one.
Painted images were displayed of pig-faced ladies by people who were too afraid to get a bear off its face on beer, shave it, then cram it into a dress, while others put on a much better (though far less ethical) show by getting a bear off its face on beer, shaving it, and cramming it into a dress.
“The pig-faced lady is not infrequently exhibited in travelling-caravans, by showmen at fairs, country-wakes, races and places of general resort,” Robert Chambers wrote in 1832.
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(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)