Similarity and Difference

“In the past, individuals born with bodily differences, such as Siamese twins, dwarfs and midgets, or the human torso, would premise their sideshow exhibits on displays of their normality, which demonstrated their ability to accomplish everyday tasks with ease, to think intelligently, and to engage in respectable relationships with others […] For example, the human … Read more

Fear of freaks

Greedy media have taken advantage of the old relationship between strangeness and fear. Most freaks have been presented as characters either shrouded in mystery, or dangerous due to lack of control. In litterature, two examples of the fear archetype are Lenny Small from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Quasimodo from Victor Hugo’s The … Read more


The transgression of sexual taboos Some argue that the sideshow freaks were little more than prostitutes or predecessors to the exotic dancer, calling them the pornography of the disabled. It is true that sideshow freaks and prostitutes use their bodies and the fascination of others with said bodies for monetary gain. The freaks would often … Read more


The process of stigmatization A stigma develops when pejorative and condemning assessments of a group or trait affect ideas about every representative individual of this group or trait. In Stigma, Erving Goffman mentions three stigma types: tribal (heritage, class, religion), moral (addiction, criminal history, mental disability), and “the physical abominations” (chronic illness, physical disability, cosmetic … Read more


To be deviant, at least in a literal sense, means that one does not fit into a social norm, whatever that social norm may be. The label of deviance tends to be applied in the real or imagined presence of a threat. The apparent transgression of the natural order embodies by the freaks constitutes a … Read more

A changing status

A culture determines a freak’s status by way of its interpretation of the origin (cause) of the flaw. If a culture attributes deviancy to supernatural intervention, deviancy may become sacred and the abnormal traits a mark of holiness. The caul is very representative of this attitude. A piece from the amnion (inner membrane enclosing the … Read more

Attributes of freaks

General attributes of freaks   Number Freaks may have too few or too many body parts   Proportion Freaks may have distorted or monstrous forms   Size Freaks are usually much larger/smaller/thinner/bigger than the norm   Color Freaks may have hair or skin of an anormal color considering their sex/race/age   Gender Freaks having two … Read more

Definition of freaks

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines the word freak as: A thing or occurrence that is markedly unusual or irregular. An abnormally formed organism, esp. a person or animal regarded as a curiosity or monstrosity. A sudden capricious turn of mind; a whim. Slang. a. A drug user or addict. b. An eccentric or nonconformist … Read more