August 11, 2020 1:35 pm

235 miles south of El Paso, TX, across the Mexico border, lies Chihuahua, Mexico and a well-known bridal shop that has been a hotbed for speculation since 1930. La Popular is nothing, if not a popular spot for those searching for that perfect gown, or just someone looking to solve a mystery. You see, La Popular has a very mysterious mannequin.

The mannequin in question first appeared in the window of La Popular on March 25, 1930. Almost immediately, the locals felt there was something not right about the mannequin. She looked too realistic to be a simple mannequin, from her human hair, down to the individual wrinkles on her hands, and the varicose veins on her legs. Her glass eyes were said to follow you wherever you went.

Pascuala Esparza was the owner of La Popular at the time, and locals began to notice a similarity between the mannequin and Esparza’s deceased daughter. Her daughter tragically passed away on her wedding day, the victim of a Black Widow spider bite. Looking at the mannequin, and photos of Esparza’s daughter, the locals became outraged.

Pascuala Esparza formally denied all of the allegations, but it did no good. The mannequin has been named La Pascualita (i.e.Pascuala’s daughter). The people believed Esparza had her daughter embalmed and preserved to forever stand in the shop window. But when a funeral director looked into it, he had his own thoughts.

“Sure, an embalmed body might last a couple years, but for it to be kept in pristine condition, it would have to be continuously cared for by people with some degree of technical skill.” However, he also pointed out “Moisture is the kryptonite of an embalmed corpse. The fact that La Pascualita exists in a semiarid environment does help the argument that it’s an embalmed corpse.”

Some believe La Pascualita is merely a wax mannequin. The funeral director said this, “If La Pascualita is a wax mannequin or any other type of mannequin, the hands are just too intricate.” Finally he said, “It simply looks too good to be a 75 year old embalming job. If the corpse is meticulously maintained, I suppose it’s possible (especially in a semiarid environment), but it’s highly unlikely. Honestly, though, those hands are the mystery for me. They just look too real.”

Many now claim that La Pascualita can change positions on her own. Her clothes are changed twice a week, and only two employees working at La Popular are allowed to change her – and it must always be done behind closed doors. Sonia Burciaga, one of the employees at La Popular responsible for changing her, believes La Pascualita is real. “Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat. Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she’s a real person.

Some people believe La Pascualita is a saint, and they leave candles and offer prayers in front of the window. While some ask for good fortune, most come to seek guidance in matters of the heart. Many brides have even reported letting La Pascualita choose their wedding gowns for them, selecting whichever dress she’s wearing at the time of their visit.

Could La Pascualita be the corpse of Esparza’s daughter? Skeptics say no, citing the difficulty in upkeep to stop a corpse from decaying. Many who have seen La Pascualita in person, leave believing she’s real. Even the Museum of Hoaxes weighed in, stating, “It would be impossible to embalm someone and have their flesh be preserved that perfectly. For some reason, people tend to think that it’s easier to preserve a body than it actually is”

Interesting in finding out for yourself? Head to La Popular in Chihuahua in Mexico. The shop welcomes visitors to take a closer look, but don’t touch.

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This post was written by Nadia Vella