Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Woman and the Beard

Wilgefortis, a.k.a. Uncumber, a.k.a. Liberata, is the patron saint of women who wish to avoid arranged marriages. The legend of Wilgefortis is that her pagan father promised her in marriage to some guy after Wilgefortes made a vow of chastity. Wilgefortis prayed to God to remove her conventional good looks in order to repel her prospective husband. Immediately, she grew a luxuriant beard. Her father was outraged and had her crucified.

That's the legend, anyway. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, representations of Christ with long hair and wearing a long tunic prompted stories of a bearded woman who suffered martyrdom. Although Wilgefortis probably didn't exist in an actual historical timeline, I've got to admire a heroine who takes an alternate approach to the usual trope of fleeing from an unwanted marriage. In essence, Wilgefortis said, "Nyaaaahhhh! How do you like me now?"

My friend Marvin asked me to create a Wilgefortis action figure.* Marvin, here you go:

If I were designing my own Wilgefortis action figure from scratch, I'd model her features upon those of Jennifer Miller, a reknowned contemporary performance artist who happens to be a bearded woman.

One of the most popular searches that leads to my blog is "saint action figures"-- not statues, but action figures. Archie McPhee, take note. I appreciate it that you have statues of St. Gertrude (patron saint of cats) and St. Martha (patron saint of restaurant servers), but I want these representations to have hinges. They need bendy arms with hands that can hold accessories.

*Action figure created with the help of the Mini-Mizer.


Lady K said...

Holy cow I am cracking UP over here! It's too bad they didn't have circuses (or is it circi?) back then, her dad could have gotten a LOT of goats.

Jillian said...

I agree. Accessories are KEY.

limpy99 said...

Will one of Wilgefortis's accessories be a Lady Remington?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Lady K: I'm sure Wilgefortis would have been just as difficult regarding anything performance related. She didn't seem like a woman much enamored of outside attention!

Jillian: One of Wilgefortis' accessories would be a fiddler kneeling at her feet. Also, Wilgefortis would just wear one shoe. I forget exactly why, but the story is in the link somewhere.

Limpy99: A Lady Remington might be in the accessories kit if Wilgefortes shaved her legs. But still, I suspect she was not concerned with such worldly things. Perhaps that is why I may never be a saint. We shall see.

HipWriterMama said...

Oh this is good. So very good.

TadMack said...

The Cybils Graphics people reviewed a novel (Castle Waiting) that has bearded women in it -- there's a whole sisterhood of bearded nuns, and I'd never even heard of the concept. THIS is hysterical!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Wilgefortis? Hey, in my life I encounter some really off-putting women who could massively reduce the world's population growth simply by looking at men they pass in the street. Erectile Dysfunction? Ever heard of tortoises retracting their heads into their shells?

Jen Robinson said...

That is hilarious! There are so many stories in which beautiful young girls try to get out of an arranged marriage (most recently Cam's Quest for me). I like this as a new approach.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Jen: I'm glad you enjoyed the post! I just placed a hold on Boy Proof, which you recommended and which also goes the other way in terms of hair (or lack thereof) used to repel potential suitors.

YP: I was wondering when you were going to weigh in on this one, you scallywag.

Tadmack: I'll be sure to check out the book. Thanks for stopping by the blog, by the way. It's lovely to get new visitors (not that I take for granted any of my regular readers).

HipWriterMama: Thanks! Think we'll start to see a new trend in YA lit as a result?:)