How Poly Styrene rebelled against punk’s whiteness and also masculinity in 1970s London.

In 1976, Poly Styrene put an ad in a brother music magazine, Melody Maker. Calling “YOUNG PUNX WHO want TO rod TOGETHER!”, the ad quickly attractive the would-be members of the X-Ray Spex. Poly Styrene’s ferocious wailing and Lora Logic’s squalling saxophone electrified the band’s high-velocity punk music. After only six rehearsals, the X-Ray Spex catapulted to popular after playing at Britain’s renowned Roxy nightclub.

Born Marianne Elliot-Said, Poly adopted the “plastic and disposable” through her phase name Poly. In a 1979 interview v the brothers Broadcasting Corporation, Poly remarked; “I determined the name ‘Poly Styrene’ because it’s a lightweight, disposable product … I believed it was a send-up of being a popular music star. It’s favor a little figure, not me… simply plastic, disposable, it is what pop stars room meant to be.”

The daughter of a Scottish-English legitimate secretary and also a Somalian aristocrat, Poly was a creative, adventurous child, to run away to travel about England and also visit absent festivals by it s her at period 15. Poly then opened a clothing stall close to King’s Road, marketing strange, synthetic fashions; follow to young George, her stall was particularly popular for her wide an option of jelly shoes. She sewed her very own clothes, and also was the designer behind her band’s phase costumes and artwork together well. 


Poly was attracted to mismatched jewelry and also the brightest “Day-Glo” colors possible. Layering plastic embellishments over thick, baggy clothes, Poly was fascinated with androgyny and asexuality, and also infuriated through anyone who would attempt to attract focus on she body shape. She incorporated billowing, frilly, mohair-like structure in she style, emerging a “grandma chic” look. She wore socks approximately her ankles, and pointy shoes, going totally against the dark and edgy aesthetic the London’s punk scene. She proclaimed that if anyone make the efforts to revolve her into a sex price she would shave her head ⁠— a promise she later on fulfilled. She gleaming braces and also soldier hat in contrast to bright-colored, playful costumes shunned convention, was standing out amongst a sea of black leather and bondage wear. 



Poly Styrene’s futuristic stage costumes reflect the artificial, post-apocalyptic people she painted in her lyrics. Her many recognizable song, oh Bondage! up Yours!, decries consumerism and sexism with the currently “Some civilization think small girls have to be seen and also not heard,” and continuing v “Chain-store chain smoke, ns consume you all.” Styrene’s on stage intensity supposedly freaked the end the likes that Johnny Rotten. 


Poly Styrene subverted the idea the what a woman could and also should be in she look, she sound, and her beliefs.

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Poly has inspired numerous singers including Kim Gordon, catalent Hanna, and also Lene Lovich. Combined race and also working-class, Styrene’s unorthodox performance transgressed expectations of females in punk and also encouraged rather to be themselves in an increasingly white, hyper-masculine environment.