When he was 12 years old, Jesus Aceves became part of a circus alongside two of his cousins, serving as an attraction. His involvement in the circus was initiated by a circus owner who had noticed him during his summer employment at an amusement park, all due to his distinctive appearance.
Aceves and several members of his family share a condition known as hypertrichosis, a condition characterized by excessive hair growth. This condition led to his being nicknamed “The Wolf Man” or, during his childhood, “The Little Wolf.”
Hypertrichosis results in Aceves having dense, dark hair that covers his entire face. Unfortunately, this condition subjected him and his family to unkind treatment during his formative years.
In the town of Loreto, located in Mexico, his relatives faced ostracization from the local residents, while Aceves himself endured torment from his peers during his childhood. He was subjected to verbal bullying, with derogatory names hurled at him, and his hair was also physically tugged by other children.
Joining the Circus
His time within the circus was far from ideal. Functioning as attractions, he and his cousins were secluded to prevent passersby on the streets from catching sight of them. Nevertheless, as detailed in the film “Chuy, The Wolf Man” by Eva Arid, as translated by BBC, he conveyed:
“It’s not a bad place where you make money doing something bad. It’s a decent job. As an artist, you entertain people and make them laugh.”
Aceves learned skills like high wire walking. He battled isolation and depression, turning to alcohol, but eventually recovered.
After years of traveling with various circuses, “The Wolf Man” eventually came back to his hometown from his childhood. Presently, he resides there with his wife, three daughters, and an extended family. For a while, he shuttled between the United States and Loreto, participating in circus performances to provide financial support for his family. Regrettably, his children encounter the same prejudices he once did. His eldest daughter, Karla, shared:
“Sometimes kids will say things that offend me because sometimes adults will put things in children’s heads. They call me names and they even tell their kids not to be my friends.”
According to her father, the challenges have been even greater for women due to the societal discomfort with excessive body hair, which is less accepted for them compared to men.
On the other hand, his wife views their condition in a more positive perspective. She expressed that she was fully aware that her children would be born with the condition, and she mentioned:
“…for me it has been a blessing to have a daughter like this. I don’t think it’s a curse. Quite the opposite. It’s a blessing for whoever has hair.”
Karla appears to have accepted her condition, sharing that she attempted to remove her hair, but it regrew. She affirmed, “I was born like this, and I want to stay like this.”
Regrettably, it’s all too common for society to treat individuals unfavorably simply because they deviate from the norm.