what was your girlhood like?

To coincide with the release of The Girls + Boys Issue, Pre-Fall 14, we dedicated last week entirely to the boys, but this week is all girls, girls, girls! From the kids who grew up as tomboys to those who wanted to be glamour pusses, the golden girls...

by Felicity Kinsella
18 August 2014, 9:35pm

Photography Lorraine Hollins

"I was lucky. I was lucky to have my close family and steadfast friends. It makes growing up easier when you don't feel alone and I'm very thankful." Agyness Deyn

"Kneeling by the radio, weeping at seven years old when Paul McCartney's marriage to Linda was announced - I experienced my first heartbreak. Turning my back on Sunday School and Christianity in the same year, I found clarity. Refusing to dress in matching, lovingly made, home-sewn outfits with my three younger sisters, at nine, I fell in love again - this time with the power of clothes to impact on emotions and circumstances. And at 11, after asking my mother what a lesbian was and later what a feminist was, I found my direction. Along the way there were Sherbet Fountains, Saturday Matinee, Butlins Holiday Camps and large boxes of broken biscuits direct from the factory - the best tea time treat ever. Happy days." Caryn Franklin

"My childhood was very much defined by being at boarding school from 8 to 18. At the time, my parents both felt that a private/public school education would be the best (having not had one themselves). I definitely survived, had good friends and was always in bits of trouble for being noisy, a ringleader etc. but I didn't enjoy it and although I finally ended up being a prefect, I swore I would never inflict a single sex boarding school on our kids. School days were definitely not the happiest days of my life!

My happiest memories of childhood were wonderful annual European summer jaunts, usually to Italy or Southern France, taking the time to drive down, stopping off at amazing places along the way (my parents always saw the journey as part of the holiday). We would then end up on a sunny beach somewhere for a glorious 2 weeks of sand and swimming. We felt very lucky indeed because in those days, foreign holidays were considered even more of a treat than today." Tricia Jones

"It was the best time ever." Ashley Williams

"Choosing the colour of the rubber bands on my braces." Claire Barrow 

"Girlhood for me was trying to work out girl group dynamics. Finding friends you could trust and the extreme dramas when you found out you sometimes couldn't! The powerful feeling of true friendship and the sense of finding your own role within these groups. - they definitely shaped me more than anything else." Astrid Anderson 

"One part spent living carefree in the wilds at my grandmother's farm without a care in the world, with the other spent trying to fit in and please those around me... I come from good, solid working class roots where I grew up on a notorious council estate in Shropshire. Kids can be evil and both my brother and I took a lot of shit throughout our early years. "Those Dalton kids, won't amount to much" often being the order of the day... And for the two Dalton kids who weren't going to amount to much, we turned out pretty damn well. As my Dad always said, the best form of revenge is success. Success may be a little way off but from where I'm standing, and against all those piss-take-idiots who I was surrounded by throughout primary and secondary school years, we are flying a lot higher than most. My folks still live on the same estate as they have done since I was three, although it is far less troublesome these days. I go back as often as I can and apart from the fond memories spent at my Grandmothers farm listening to world service on the radio in front of the range and for the love of my parents and my parental home, I feel no real connection to this place I grew up in. We are who we are from our life experiences; being bullied, called useless, being made to feel like a misfit, just made me the strong, determined and thoughtful woman I am today who'll take no shit from no one and god help those who try to cross my path, my friends and family with such bullshit... As Mike Leigh said "Life is sweet." Lou Dalton

"I had a great childhood, there always seemed to be parties, and that meant boys. When there weren't any parties I'd make up games which inevitably involved kissing, especially in the dark as it seemed the most exciting thing in the world. At school I'd get the strap every week for making up games that took us outside the playground. I had a compulsion for inventing new ways to have fun no matter the cost." Pam Hogg 

"I felt like I didn't fit in, I was always on the outside. I didn't belong to any gangs. I pleased myself with reading, drawing, listening to music, watching old films and dressing up. I was always late for school and was always under the threat of permanent detention for the last two years of my school life, my tardiness I put down to my arduous two ride bus journey. I had a lot of time to think on that school commute. The headmistress threatened me with the ruler across the palms of my hands for wearing make-up (I told her I needed to wear it to cover my spots) and gave me a grimy damp flannel suggesting I scrape it off with that. She then forced me to take out my gold hoop earrings. I must have been a rebel but looking back I really just loved how I could transform my image away from the strict and dull navy blue uniform that I attempted to customise. Sometimes after school I'd get the 29 bus and head uptown to look at the shops. Trying on fashions and saving up to buy them, I was obsessed. I got caught for shop lifting at Topshop once on one of my jaunts, I stole 10 bikinis but I fancied a jacket which had a tag on, that's how I got caught. I went to Biba on Kensington High Street, sat in the window on those huge and glamourous sofas, I was so inspired by the Biba mannequins, I emulated their makeup working out a new look and a new me. Planning an escape I couldn't wait to leave school and leave home which I did at age 16." Princess Julia

"I'm going to sound like a right old fart but as the shoe fits: girlhood to me was really all about being a girl and by that I mean being a child. I spent most of my childhood (once we moved from London where I was born) in a small village and my school was equally tiny. Surrounded by hills, fields and woods the main attractions for myself and my friends were ponies (of which I had little interest), bike riding, dogs and as a young teen: taping music off the radio, dancing around to TOTP and crimping our hair for a Friday night drinking cola and dancing to Duran Duran at Caterham Youth Club. Boys were annoying brothers and those lanky, loud things who went to the school up the road. Honestly I was still wearing dungarees at 13! Now quite a fashion statement but then just something I wore to tomboy about in. Worn with a T-shirt, quite possibly with a vest underneath, zip bomber on top, Converse and a scrubbed face even as a teen I still felt and acted like a kid and would stick pencils in the small pockets stitched into the bib. Falling over I impaled myself on Cran D'Ache which proves that 1) I was still running about and 2) was seriously uncool. There wasn't social media, I wasn't trying to have a million likes on an instant image (although one with me with a pencil nib stuck in my chin would have done well come to think of it) or God forbid have a boyfriend I could @ or #. Bikini Body Ready meant you'd actually remembered to pack your darned swimsuit and a Selfie wasn't even in our vocabulary beyond (at a real stretch) Home Economics and something about flour. In essence my girlhood was about having as much fun as I possibly could before having to grow up." Cozette McCreery

"Socially awkward. Too poor to keep up with the girls who had brand new Nikes and shopped at Tammy Girl and Miss Selfridge every week. Not quite clever enough to beat out the hordes of girls who would all eventually go to Oxbridge. Not white or specifically in the case of my Golders Green-ensconced girls school, Jewish, so ended up in a minority "all sorts" group who thought Nirvana, Hole and Garbage would solve all of our problems. Laden with braces, NHS glasses and a dodgy pixie cut, I'd turn to the myriad of market stalls in Camden for solace instead." Susie Bubble

"Nauseating." Lily McMenamy

"It's a rollercoaster of adrenaline highs and big dippers... Once you get off that ride of girlhood, you can't remember what it felt like to be on it. Everyday was overwhelmingly experimental." Suki Waterhouse

"Girlhood for me was spent outside, lots of sunshine and horses, make believe and fresh air."Arizona Muse

"For me, girlhood was spent in New Zealand, where I wandered around barefoot and drew on my chubby little legs. I guess I only just graduated from girlhood into semi-adulthood. I had a very grounded upbringing with my wonderful family, for which I am very grateful. In my younger years I was a happy Nutella loving loon. If you asked me what I wanted to do when I was grown up, you would get a list ranging from baby spice to a photographer to an artiste. The teen years were tumultuous for me and my mother, but they brought out my inner strength and showed me who I want to be. I am so lucky to have had the girlhood I had, filled with fond beach memories, forest adventures and amazing people." Holly Rose Emery 

"Girlhood was easy because there's two of us. We only had to do half the growing up. Today we make one adult. People should make the most of girlhood because becoming an adult isn't as carefree!" Ruth and May Bell


Text Felicity Kinsella
Photography Lorraine Hollins
Taken from The Agyness Deyn Issue, No. 287, May 2008

Arizona Muse
Astrid anderson
Claire Barrow
Agyness Deyn
Ashley Williams
fashion interviews
Pam Hogg
Suki Waterhouse
Caryn Franklin
lily mcmenamy
felicity kinsella
tricia jones
princess julia
the girls + boys issue
holly rose emery
cozette mccreery
lorraine hollins
lou dalton
ruth and may bell
susie bubble