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The rise and fall of the ladette

Brash, boozy and hedonistic, they were a tribe of women determined to show that anything the lads could do, they could do better. Now, 25 years on from their heyday, we explore why the ladettes went from being celebrated to vilified, and the place they hold in feminist history

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Zoë Ball on the day of her wedding to DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, in 1999. Photo: Michael Crabtree

Zoë Ball on the day of her wedding to DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, in 1999. Photo: Michael Crabtree

Zoë Ball on the day of her wedding to DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, in 1999. Photo: Michael Crabtree

Were you a ladette? If you were, chances are you won't admit it. Not now. Not since the expression, and the women it set out to define, went from being celebrated as refreshingly uninhibited and outspoken, to being vilified as crass, amoral and destructive - both to themselves and the broader ideals of womanhood.

Once the word became finally tethered to the image of a young woman sprawled at closing time across a high-street pavement, wearing a mini dress hiked to her waist, too drunk to stand up but still shouting crude come-ons to passing men, that was the end.


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