IN A CONTROVERSIAL ARTICLE first published in the Saturday Review in 1868, Eliza Lynn Linton (1822–98) describes, in inflammatory terms, the ostensible moral degeneration of the character of the ‘Girl of the Period.’ Linton draws a sharp distinction between the ‘simple and genuine girl of the past, with her tender little ways and pretty bashful modesties’ and the new form of modern girl, ‘this loud and rampant modernization, with her false red hair and painted skin, talking slang as glibly as a man, and by preference leading the conversations to doubtful subjects’ (p. 340). The modern girl’s participation in the vulgar spectacle of cosmetics and dress was, for Linton, bound up with broader anxieties about the sexualisation of young women, not least because of their aesthetic proximity to the visual codes associated with the prostitute....
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