Throughout history, conjoined twins have been harshly portrayed

Pictured in this photo are Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who spent their childhood in sideshows doing tapdancing routines. After being held in torturous conditions, the twins sued their managers in 1931 and were then free from their contract.

Rather than seen as medical marvels, throughout the ages, conjoined twins have been reviled and ridiculed, exploited as freak shows for entertainment and profit. In the 1700s and 1800s, conjoined twins were popular with the circus, one of the few places where they could find work. But even there, they couldn’t count on acceptance; attendees would throw objects at them or stare in abject horror.

Going even further back in time, the circumstances were much bleaker for conjoined twins. Thanks to the religious zealotry and mystical superstition, when conjoined twins were born, whether or not they survived birth, they were seen as an omen of bad things to come. Their deformity was also sometimes viewed as a result of adulteration, usually on the part of the mother. Either way, things were not easy for conjoined siblings throughout history, and while things definitely improved starting in the 20th century, there are still limitations facing these special cases