Circassian Beauty in the American Sideshow

During the time of P.T. Barnum, Circassian beauties were women supposedly blending the “Western notions of white beauty” and the “exoticism” of the non-white other. Paraded around as chaste virgins rescued from Turkish harems, they fed into the fantasies of contemporary America. However, they were, more often than not, a sham; new European immigrants playing a role; even their Afro-textured hairstyles, the Circassian beauties’ defining feature, was fake, achieved by washing their hair in beer. Read full article here


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