What do we understand by the word freak?
Why are most humans so cruel?
Why are we all so desperate to be part of the “norm”?
one that is markedly unusual or abnormal: as
a : a person or animal having a physical oddity and appearing in a circus sideshow
b slang (1) : a sexual deviate (2) : a person who uses an illicit drug
c : hippie
d : an atypical postage stamp usually caused by a unique defect in paper (as a crease) or a unique event in the manufacturing process (as a speck of dirt on the plate) that does not produce a constant or systematic effect
a : an ardent enthusiast <film freaks>
b : a person who is obsessed with something <a control freak>
See freak defined for English-language learners
See freak defined for kids
Examples of FREAK
1. eccentric, artistic types whom many regarded as freaks
2. I had a terrible rash on my face, and I felt like a freak.
It seems to be part of human nature to constantly judge others physical appearance. Perhaps the human race is getting even more narcissistic, after all don’t we go around taking “selfies” and plant them on the social media. God help anyone with an over-sized nose, ears that jut out, bulging eyes, a prominent pimple, a mole that is so eye-catching it directs people’s focus, like a ship to lighthouse in a thick fog. Anyone with extreme characteristics is liable to a lifetime of abusive comments, ridicule, being stared at…fingers pointed at them on public transport. Parts in horror films beckon, but the front cover of vogue does not.
In Victorian times those deemed to be “freaks” were placed on the stage, were put “on show”. The Victorians had a bizarre curiosity, there were the bearded ladies, included amongst these was Julia Pastrana resembled more of an ape than a woman. Pastrana, a Mexican-born woman suffered from hypertrichosis, a disease that causes the person to be covered from head to toe in long, thick hair. To compound things…she had a large nose and thick lips. She later had the indignity of being mummified, along with the still born child she gave birth to, who had the same features as her. Freak shows are a terrible indictment of the Victorian times, a time when Britain was at the height of imperialism.
John Merrick, more commonly known as “The Elephant man” had the most unimaginable skin disease, allegedly suffering from elephantiasis. Like some of the characters in my book, poor John Merrick, was an object of curiosity and ridicule throughout his life. His body was characterized by his malformed head, curved spine, “lumpy” skin and overgrown right arm and hand. His life was brought further to the public’s attention, with David Lynch’s file “The Elephant man”. The real reason for Merrick’s severe condition is even to this day open to conjecture.
What we can say is you are unfortunate to be born with a condition like John Merrick’s you will have much suffering to endure and will need the kind of indomitable spirit that John Merrick possessed. From the moment we are born, we are dealt different cards of fate, some are born lucky others face a life of hardship on account of their atypical physical appearance.
As children we are conditioned to be like the pack…we want to be like the others, included within the group of those deemed “normal”. Even a child with ginger hair, might suffer at the hands of others…vicious name calling…In my school if you did not match up what was considered “the norm” for example if you were effeminate, or had an atypical name (it was an all-boys school full of pubescent boys) you would be showered with all manner of insults, “lesbo” “lesy” or the likes. We had dormitories with up to twelve boys crammed together , like an army camp for privates. We were there for thirty-six weeks of the year, the other boys were “inescapable”. For this reason I escaped to the art room, where I could be at least express myself on paper or canvas and get away from this existence I really despised. I guess it was where I began to feel an “outsider”. I was never going to join the army, I was never going to be a businessman, like many of the other boys, primed for such activities… I was going to blessed with some comfortable life, with a comfortable career beckoning.
My Short stories are littered with freaks…for example there is “Bugeyes”…who is rejected at birth, on account of his extraordinary large eyes…and needless to say he is ridiculed by all…with a myriad of jokes that involve large eyes…for example “moth eyes”. People assume he is “stupid” but this is far from being the case.
Francis H Powell is the author of Flight of Destiny a book of short stories. He is also a musician and video maker…check out this video…it’s called “Bring out the freaks” and features Rayo, a multi-musician, who plays guitar and piano on this track.