In the 19th century, Saartjie Baartman, a Khosian woman who became known as the “Hottentot Venus” was put on exhibit in Europe as a freak of nature because of her greatly enlarged buttocks (due to a medical condition) and elongated labia, but also as a representative of black women’s supposedly freakish bodies. While alive, profits were made off of her exhibition, although she had to fight to receive a mere portion of the money being made off of her very flesh. Baartman died in 1815, yet her skeleton, brain and genitals remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains were finally returned to South Africa in 2002.
Re: above illustration….Several prints dating from the early nineteenth century illustrate the sensation generated by the spectacle of “The Hottentot Venus.” A French print entitled “La Belle Hottentot,” for example, depicts the Khosian woman standing with her buttocks exposed on a box-like pedestal. Several figures bend straining for a better look, while a male figure at the far right of the image even holds his seeing-eye glass up to better behold the woman’s body. The European observers remark on the woman’s body: “Oh! God Damn what roast beef!” and “Ah! how comical is nature.”