MADAM NAOMI: SIDE SHOW FAT LADY (562 POUNDS) OFFERS ESPECIALLY LARGE DOWRY TO PROCURE A HUSBAND

This cabinet card features Madam Naomi, who appears to have been a side show “fat lady”. The term “fat lady” is a despicable and derogatory way of describing someone overweight; yet the term found common use at circuses and fairs of the era of this photograph. Pencilled on the reverse of this image  is the information that Madame Naomi was born in Michigan and at the time of the photograph, she was 30 years old. A further “fact” provided is that her arms had a circumference of 27 inches.  Madam Naomi is not looking too comfortable in this portrait. She is wearing an interesting hat and one would guess that it would take her a long time to button all those buttons on the front of her dress. The newspaper The Weekly Statement (1890) has an article about a Madam Naomi appearance in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The article states that Naomi was advertised to appear in a museum and to “bestow her hand, heart, oleaginous sweetness, and a deed to a $5,000 farm to any young man who would marry her”. The offer was accepted by an insurance man from New York, Thomas J. Crowley; who came to Fort Bend and joined her on the museum stage to accept her hand in marriage. The photographer of this image is Baker, whose studio was located in Columbus, Ohio. There were many photographers named Baker operating out of Columbus when this photograph was taken. Many of the Bakers were relatives who operated the Baker Art Gallery. It is not clear which Baker or which studio is the source of this image. However, the initials below the photograph appear to be “LMB” which would indicate that the photographer was Lorenzo Marvin Baker (1834-1924).L. M. Baker was  part of the Baker Art Gallery family. To view other photographs by the Baker Art Gallery, click on the category “Photographer: Baker Art Gallery”.

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