The eye of the beholder : Julia Pastrana, Saarjie Baartman, and the social anxieties that surround women who cannot be controlled.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


This paper explores the lives of two female freaks who were exhibited during Victorian Era London and nineteenth century France: Julia Pastrana, "The Ugliest Woman in the World" based on her beard; and Saarjie Baartman, the voluptuous, large buttocked "Hottentot Venus." Both women were unable to fit into the proper gender and racial norms of the societies they were exhibited in and could only survive as objects to be gazed upon. This paper looks into the lives of both Pastrana and Baartman and explores the gender and racial norms of the Victorian Era as well as nineteenth century France to highlight their otherness. Using textual analysis of two plays written on Pastrana and Baartman as well as discuss of Bertolt Brecht and his Epic theatre, Pastrana and Baartman's stories can continue to influence the way present day society look at their otherness as well as formulate opinions on their own gaze onto bodies of otherness. Even though Pastrana and Baartman are gone, the social anxieties that surround women who defy social norms still exist in present day American society. This paper hopes to create a dialogue on how we view feminine bodies of otherness and what this says about us as a society.