Sarah Baartman was a black house servant who became popular became popular in the 19th Century because of the size of her behind that would cause total mayhem when she was forcefully made to appear in private shows, which were the equivalent of modern day “strip clubs”
“Saartjie” which was her nickname, was an indigenous Khoisan from the rural areas of Southern Africa.
Khoisan women had very distinguished features that set them aside from other communities, namely:
- Huge buttocks.
- Small Asian eyes.
It was also said that because of the nature of Khoisan’s occupation (hunter & gatherers), their bodies would undergo long durations of hunger seasonally.
When the hunger periods ended, their bodies would store fat in the buttock area, hence they would end up with large buttocks.
Born around 1790, Baartman’s home area was then being ravaged by a series of frontier wars and skirmishes, sometimes within the local African tribes, on other occasions involving white adventurers pushing out from Cape Town.
Baartman’s future husband and her father were both killed in a commando raid that left her homeless.
When Sarah Baartman was in her early 20s, she was sold to London by a Scottish doctor named Alexander Dunlop, accompanied by a showman named Hendrik Cesars.
The physiques of Africa’s indigenous people had long interested white colonialists and in Baartman they had an object of great curiosity.
Although just 4ft 7in tall, Baartman’s bottom was particularly well-developed, something that led to her being taken to London in 1810 as ‘property’ part-owned by a British military doctor, Alexander Dunlop, to be shown-off on stage as a freak.
There was no volition in any of this. The slave trade in Britain and its empire had just been outlawed by abolitionists but the keeping of slaves, exploiting them at the whim of the ‘owner’ was still legal.
She spent four years of her youth in Britain being exhibited in various shows which were quite similar to strip shows of our modern time.
Nicknamed ‘The Hottentot Venus”, the show organizers would run an advertisement carried in national newspapers to attract people to attend the shows.
Entrance was 2 shillings, that was pretty high priced in those days.
The show promoters forced Baartman to wear tight skin outfits that showcased her figure.
The costume was deliberately suggesting, playing up to the white prejudices about sexually-unrefined black natives.
Accounts of her first appearance on stage referred to the strings of ostrich-egg shell fragments failing to conceal completely her nipples.
Sarah was also made to smoke a pipe when appearing on stage.
When she stepped on stage, Sarah’s big behind sparked mayhem within the crowd with both men and women trying to pinch, slap or poke her to see whether her genitals were real.
In her final years, there were rumors of alcoholism and syphilis.
Sarah Baartman died on December 1815.
Even in death the exploitation continued with a surgeon removing and preserving her genitals while artists sketched her extensively.
Her genitals remained on display in Paris until the 1970s along with her skeleton.
It was only in 2002, after a personal appeal by Nelson Mandela, who also hailed from the Eastern Cape, that her mortal remains made it home to South Africa for official burial.
By that time Baartman was an icon for racial and sexist exploitation.
Source — http://www.hekaheka.com/200-years-before-kim-kardashian-broke-the-internet-with-her-butt-there-lived-sarah-baartman-her-story-was-not-as-amusing/