Her nicknames may include ‘wolf girl’ and ‘monkey face’. But 11-year-old Thai girl Supatra Sasuphan today insisted that she was after being officially recognised as the world’s hairiest girl. Although the schoolgirl from Bangkok has faced merciless teasing at school, Supatra says being given a Guinness World Record for her hair has helped her become extremely popular.
‘I’m very happy’: Supatra Sasuphan, 11, is one of only 50 people ever to have Ambras syndrome which makes hair grow all over her face. She has now been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.
‘I’m very happy to be in the Guinness World Records! A lot of people have to do a lot to get in,’ she said. ‘All I did was answer a few questions and then they gave it to me.’ Supatra is one of just 50 known sufferers of Ambras Syndrome – caused by a faulty chromosome – to be documented since the Middle Ages. Before the disease was understood, sufferers were branded ‘werewolves.’ She has thick hair growing over her face, ears, arms, legs and back. Even laser treatment has failed to stop the hair growth.But while most sufferers have been shunned, Supatra has gradually been embraced by her community, and became a popular and outgoing child.
‘One of the most popular girls in school’: Supatra with classmates at Ratchabophit school, where she says getting the record for world’s hairiest girl has helped her win more friends.
They don’t tease me anymore: doctors tried to remove Supatra’s hair with laser treatment but it quickly grew back.
She said: ‘There were a few people who used to tease me and call me monkey face but they don’t do it any more. ‘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. ‘It does sometimes make it difficult to see when it gets long.I hope I will be cured one day.’ In other ways Supatra is the same as other children her age – she loves swimming, dancing to her favourite music and playing with friends. But more than anything, Supatra loves perching in front of the TV at her tiny one-bedroom family home in Pranakom, on the outskirts of Bangkok, to watch cartoons.
Happily families: Suptara with her sister 15-year-old Sukanya, left, her father Sammrueng and mother Somphon.
Still attracting stares: strangers look at Supatra on the streets of Bangkok, but her neighbours say her sweet nature quickly won over her local community.
She said: ‘I like to watch anything on TV, whatever is, I like having it on. I like to watch Bugs Bunny.’ The bubbly little girl is also determined not to let her condition prevent her from leading a normal life. She said: ‘I like to study maths so I can be good at it and teach it to younger children so they can do it too. ‘I want to become a doctor so I can help patients when they get injured. ‘I want to help people who get hurt and help cure people.’ But Supatra’s future didn’t always look so promising. When she was first born she had to undergo two operations just to breathe. Her father Sammrueng, 38, said: ‘We found out Supatra’s condition when she was born – we did not know before. ‘She was not very healthy because her nostrils were only one millimetre wide. For the first three months she was kept in an incubator to help her breathe.She was in the hospital for a total of ten months. We were very worried about her.’
Time for a trim: Supatra’s hair grew longer as she got older and her mother now cuts it with scissors, above.
Outgoing child: Supatra during a PE lesson with classmates.
Supatra has another operation when she was two-years-old and can now breathe normally. But when Sammrueng and his wife Somphon, 38, brought Supatra home to live with them and their other daughter Sukanya, now 15, they faced more problems. ‘When neighbours first saw Nat they asked what kind of sin I had done. I was very worried about what she would be when she grew up because of other children teasing her,’ he said. But Supatra’s sweet nature quickly won over people in her community. Sammrueng, a jewellery maker, said: ‘She gets along with others really well and is very generous. She has a lot of friends. ‘She is just the same as any other little girl her age. ‘But her teeth grow slowly and she can’t see very well.” Doctors tried to remove the hair with laser treatment when she was two-years-old but despite numerous sessions it kept growing back as thickly as before. Supatra’s hair has got increasingly thicker as she has grown up so her mother has to cut it back regularly for her. She uses baby shampoo to wash her hair as she is allergic to stronger brands. Sammrueng said: ‘I still hope one day she will be cured. We will do anything we can if it will help her.’