‘I am free to be myself’: A lesson in self-acceptance

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SEATTLE, WA - On a recent night at the Funhouse in Seattle, audience members looked on in horror as members of “The Wreckless Freeks,” a modern-day freak show, tortured their bodies with nails, darts, staples, swords, and more.

Some in the crowd turned their heads or covered their eyes when the spectacle became too much to bear.

For 32-year-old Little Bear Schwarz, known by her stage name “Little Bear the Bearded Lady,” her journey to “The Wreckless Freeks” began around age 14.

For 32-year-old Little Bear Schwarz, known by her stage name “Little Bear the Bearded Lady,” her journey to “The Wreckless Freeks” began around age 14.

For 32-year-old Little Bear Schwarz, known by her stage name “Little Bear the Bearded Lady,” her journey to “The Wreckless Freeks” began around age 14.

It was then that she started to notice hair growing on her chest, neck, and face —  unusual places for a teenage girl to have hair. She didn't know it at the time but she had a disorder called Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.

Little Bear would shave from the ages of 14 to 31, but when moved to Seattle, she began to no longer hide her condition. Little Bear found support among “The Wreckless Freeks” when founder Michael “The Mighty Lurch” Robinson asked her to become part of the group.

While it might be hard to understand or appreciate what they do, each member of the Wreckless Freeks is doing something that a lot of us have a hard time with. They’re being true to themselves.

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“Joining a freak show was what made me feel the most human,” Little Bear said. “Because I’m surrounded by people who are like me and love me.”

“I am miles happier,” Little Bear said, when asked to compare her life now to her life without a beard.

“Because I am free to be myself.”

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