It’s apt that Honno, the UK’s longest-standing independent women’s press, should be the publisher of Painting the Beauty Queens Orange, a glorious new anthology documenting the trailblazing women of the 1970s that spans a rich set of narratives across lifestyle, employment, and feminism.
Introducing the collection, Rhian E. Jones makes the excellent point that for all of the positive aspects of the 1970s following the allegedly transformative 1960s, female voices from this point are still too often unheard. This compilation of essays aims to challenge this, bringing stories of women intersecting with class, sexuality, and sexual and reproductive health. It’s a wondrous collection to enjoy and engage with, not least owing to its focus on the lives of Welsh women in a turbulent decade of national history.
Standout essays include those of Liz Jones and a look at Welsh café culture (Don’t Ask For The Moon), the arrival of punk in Wales (Nic Hafren, Torn Dresses And Rebel Rules), and the brilliant The Wonder Of Woolworth, in which Jane Salisbury explores the liberation and symbolism of a Saturday job in women’s lives.
In a decade often retrospectively viewed through orange and brown-tinted glasses, Painting The Beauty Queens Orange refutes the idea of a beige tapestry of women’s lives at this point, and instead paints an image far more colourful and dynamic than is often depicted.
Painting The Beauty Queens Orange: Women’s Lives In The 1970s, edited by Rebecca F. John (Honno)
Price: £12.99. Info: here
words CHLOË EDWARDS