We're very pleased to launch a new essay in our rolling Ugly series, by none other than our own editor Lou Stoppard. Stoppard's take on the theme revolves around 'Dirty Girls' - visions of dishevelled, unkempt and unwashed femininity.
Exploring attitudes to dirt, decay and womanhood from as far back as the 13th century, Stoppard focuses on the visual horror of death, the connections between physical dirtiness and imorailty as well as perceptions of the women who use a grubby appearence as a tool to assert their own autonomy and sexuality.
'Poise and purity have long been associated with prettiness and with that passivity and traditional, regressive femininity. To be beautiful one must be ordered and proper. Like Kate Middleton. Dirt suggests activity, agency and autonomy,' Stoppard states.
In particular, Stoppard's essay cites Dirty Girls, an amateur documentary short (and now Youtube cult) that examines as its subjects a group of girls in high school known for their grubby appearance. As she points out, 'The shock of their fellow pupils mirrors the outrage that has always surrounded unkempt women.'
Delve into the fascinating essay now, and stay tuned for the release of Ruth Hogben's fashion film at the end of the week!