Taunted for most of short life with schoolmates calling her “wolf girl” and “monkey face,” 11-year-old Supatra Sasuphan is all smiles now after Pattaya’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum helped her become a world-record holder.
One of just 50 people ever known to have suffered from Ambras Syndrome, the primary student from Bangkok’s Wat Ratchabopit School has been named the “world’s hairiest girl” by the Guinness World Record committee and is now the most-popular girl in her school.
Supatra Sasuphan (center) and other Thais with unique abilities were recently invited to Pattaya to showcase their talents.
“I’m very happy to be in the Guinness World Records,” “Nong Nat” told the media. “A lot of people have to do a lot to get in. All I did was answer a few questions and then they gave it to me.”
Ambras Syndrome, or hypertrichosis, is a condition that makes hair grow all over the body including the face and neck. Hair can be removed, but actually grows back thicker and faster.
In the Middle Ages, before gene research revealed it was caused by a faulty chromosome, sufferers were branded werewolves. In Thailand, where being a labeled a simian is a high insult, calling her a monkey was the insult of choice for petty classmates.
“There were a few people who used to tease me and call me monkey face but they don’t do it any more,” she says. “I’m very used to this condition. I can’t feel the hair as it has always been like this. I don’t feel anything.”
Ripley’s Pattaya General Manager Somporn Naksuetrong said the company has a program that seeks out Thais with unique abilities and features. He argues the tourist attraction is not exploiting those who are different, but giving them a chance to come out of hiding and be proud of their individuality.
A year ago, Ripley’s appointed Supatra its goodwill ambassador, giving her opportunities to meet and greet visitors. During that time, executives contacted the Guinness Book, which invited her to be on Italian television.
Earlier this month, Supatra, her family and other Thais with unique abilities were invited to Pattaya to showcase their talents.
Supatra’s father Samroeng, 38, said his daughter was born prematurely and stayed in an incubator for three months. She was hospitalized for 10 months before coming home. When she did, the neighbors were aghast at the hair covering her body. Superstitous, they believed the family was suffering spiritual retribution for sins in a past life.
Samroeng, however, says he doesn’t worry for his daughter when she grows up. She is polite, kind and makes friends easily, he said. She loves to swim, dance and listen to music. When she grows up, Samroeng said, Supatra wants to be a doctor.