Who invented the Typical Girl? A celebration of Ari Up


The Slits in 1977. Ari up is third from left.  Photo – Ian Dickson

“The Slits were a feral girl gang. Aged just 15 in 1977, singer Ari Up recalls being ‘wild and crazy, like an animal let loose – but an innocent little girl with it, too’. From her striking image (tangled dreadlocks, knickers worn on the outside of her clothes) to her seemingly pre-social antics, Ari inspired fear and fascination in equal measure”.

– Simon Reynolds in Rip it up and Start Again

Note the knickers-over-trousers.  Photo – Caroline Coon.  

Stupidly, one of the posts that I’ve left on the back burner was a remembrance of Ari Up, a punk singer and forming member of The Slits. Their songs were a formative influence on me when I first went to college and was experiencing first-hand what it meant to grow up and be a woman and not someone who treated Sex and the City like a lifestyle Bible. Cut has to be one of my favourite albums. If you ever have a bad day wondering why that hot guy only likes the other hot girls, or if WAGS make you despair of your life, or bad that you don’t have the same waistspan as Cheryl Cole, then listen to Typical Girls and feel much better for having the courage to just be yourself.


No prizes for guessing which one is Ari.  Photo – Ray Stevenson

Photo – Caroline Coon

From a style point of view though, Ari Up was an inspiration not in what she wore (there’s NO way I could pull off the Superman look) but in her attitude towards clothing.  She wore what she wanted, when she wanted.  She had dreads piled up on top of her head like a modern day Rococo wig.  She wore facepaint twenty years before a legion of Oxegen and Glasto goers. She was variously Punk, proto-Goth and Rasta.  She applied the same freedom of thought to her wardrobe that she did to her lyrics.  She didn’t really care about the judgement of others.  It suited her just fine.  And that is definitely something to admire.

9 thoughts on “Who invented the Typical Girl? A celebration of Ari Up

  1. >The Slits! Love it. Super post.PS. How'd you get that fancy facebook cool scrolly box thing in your sidebar? WordPress might not support it/I might be too stooopid to figure it out. x

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