'Freaks' can be divided into two categories; natural freaks and made freaks. Natural freaks are born with abnormalities, wheras made freaks aquire them through accident or design. Olympia, her siblings and her daughter are examples of born freaks. Other examples are (real) bearded ladies, microcephalics (known as pinheads). Made sideshow freaks include human pincushions, extensively tattooed people and contortionists.
Mirin Dajo, a Human Pincushion, performing at the Corso Theatre in Zurich in 1947
Modern day examples of the differences between born and made freaks are Jesus Manuel Aceves, known as 'Chuy' the Wolf Boy and Paul Lawrence, The Enigma.
A video of Paul Lawrence, aka the Enigma, performing with a chainsaw
The Enigma has undergone extensive body modifications throughout his performing career. He has had multiple body piercings, implanted horns and a full body jigsaw tattoo. He was born physically 'normal'.
Jesus Manuel Aceves, known as 'Chuy' the Wolf Boy is seen on the left alongside Donny Vomit & the Black Scorpion at Coney Island's Sideshows by the Seashore. Jesus was born with the rare congenital condition hypertrichosis, which resulted in his body being entirely covered in hair. He has performed in sideshows as the 'Dog Boy' or 'Monkey Boy' for a large portion of his life and has two daughters, one of whom shares the condition.
Olympia's assertion that "A true freak must be born" illustrates her pride in her family and heritage and a sense of hierarchy amongst freaks.