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Mel Gibson

This article looks at girlhood in an historical and culturally specific context, through close textual analysis of a central narrative from a key British girls' comic of the 1950s. Girl, published by Hulton Press, predominantly addressed issues around femininity, girlhood and class in that period, often linking reading with other activities considered “appropriate” for girls. I will explore how Girl articulates gender and class and also how it encouraged the mainly middle-class readership to make ballet an important aspect of their cultural practice, popularising ballet classes across Britain. In doing so, I shall focus on the narrative, “Belle of the Ballet.” I will also look at other texts of the period, including Bunty, launched in 1958 by DC Thomson, and show how the representation of ballet changed in later comics for girls, relating this to shifting constructions of girlhood.