“Come on, let’s go to the shop!” my Nan calls, “Put a coat on, you‚Äôll catch a cold.‚Äù Eight years old, I refused to put a coat on. Dennis the Menace didn‚Äôt wear a coat. Dennis the Menace wore a striped top. Thirteen years later, still wearing striped tops, I realise my Nan was probably right; I probably did catch a cold.
Every fortnight, for more years than I can remember, there would be a comic waiting on the table as I came home from school. During school holidays I’d run to the shop on the day it came out. I would sit at my Nan’s dining room table, reading it twice, first devouring every drawing, second reading every word.
I was a member of the Beano Club, I collected second hand annuals from antique shops, and I had the posters. I have literally been there, done that, and bought every t-shirt.
Dennis the Menace, in hindsight, was one of my role models. When I phoned my Nan to research this post, she noted, “it wasn’t very girly, you weren’t really into girly.” I didn’t look up to Cinderella or Ariel, they just spent their days waiting for the adventure to begin. Dennis created his own adventure. I didn’t dream of restrictive corset dresses and high heels, I dreamt of the red and black striped top.
As a shy, only child, the Beano was my escapism, a way to escape into my imagination. Picturing what could happen if I became fearless, if I ran into danger rather than hiding from it. I grew to build dens, climb trees, and fall off my bike by going too fast. I didn’t have a homemade slingshot like him, but if I could’ve I would’ve.
Being a girl wasn’t, and isn’t, for me, a definitive. I have fond memories of choosing the Beano over its “for girls” counter-part. It shaped me into who I have become and what I believe in. Girls aren’t made of sugar and spice; they make themselves using whatever ingredients they want.
Girl Museum Inc.