Illustration: Rob Mathieson / Lost Art's 'Scouse Girl'

Instantly recognisable by her year-round tan, larger than life curly blow-dries and immaculately-groomed brows, the Scouse Prin has, in recent years, become as much of a Liverpool icon as Steven Gerrard or Cilla Black. And she’s well on the way to earning herself the same amount of screen time, thanks to her regular appearances on the likes of Big Brother, Love Island and countless other British reality shows.

This September saw Scouse Prin Gabby Allen, a fitness instructor turned Love Island 2017 contestant, reach the final of Celebrity Big Brother; plus, this summer’s series of Love Island brought us Hayley Hughes, the Liverpool model who became infamous for asking “what’s Brexit?” during her time on the show. While Hayley received her fair share of criticism for her cluelessness, the Scouse Prin still clearly has a reality TV appeal; Bear Grylls’ survival show The Island just put out a casting call specifically requesting Scousers in the Liverpool Echo.

LONG LIVE THE PRINS Image 2

Scouse Prins are some of Liverpool’s most successful public figures, yet in Liverpool they are often derided as badly representing the city. When the creatively-named, scripted reality show Desperate Scousewives launched in 2011, Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram (MP for Walton at the time) wrote an entire piece for The Daily Telegraph detailing his worries of the “regional racism” (a dubious term) it would fuel; “simply reinforcing negative stereotypes”.
For those that missed the ill-fated show, Desperate Scousewives pulled together the most high-maintenance Scouse Prins that the casting directors could find. E4 described the cast as “the strong, independent women who quite literally run this town, looking to make a name for themselves in the city famous for its big personalities, big dreams, and even bigger hair”. The show’s press release also noted that “the girls spend every hard-earned penny making sure they stand out from the crowd”. Although it received criticism for lacking any real plot and some cast members not actually coming from Liverpool, E4’s premise sounds as if it could have been written about any number of Scouse Prins that we know. And, what’s wrong with that? Steve Rotheram’s reaction to Desperate Scousewives raises the question of how this type of woman has become written off as such a “negative Northern stereotype”.

Steph B, of Scouse Bird Blogs, sums it up well. “They’re the stereotypical pampered princesses who go out and spend their fella’s money, wear two packs of extensions and have a perma-tan. I think that’s what would pop in to most people’s head when you think of a Scouse Prin. They’re the type that seem to keep getting picked for reality TV, and so the stereotype lives on. There’s nothing wrong with that – live and let live – but it’s frustrating when they make up such a small part of Liverpool culture, and I don’t think they represent the majority of Scouse women.”

Steph prefers the notion of a Scouse Queen as a more realistic depiction of Liverpool women. This is “someone who’s very much got her shit together, doesn’t take any nonsense, knows what she wants, what she’s about and is generally an all-round boss babe”. And in the eyes of Steph, “a Queen outranks a Prin”.

Prins vs Queens debate aside, we know that the women of Liverpool are fast turning the city into a British beauty capital of sorts. Liverpool is home to the only dedicated Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar in the country, and it seems that every Scouse Prin and her dog are becoming lash, brow or nail technicians, with over 30 beauty therapy schools appearing on a Google Maps search of Liverpool. Clearly there is money to be made; to maintain a set of semi-permanent lash extensions (which are showing no sign of decreasing in popularity) costs around £30 a go, needing to be replenished every four to six weeks.

What’s interesting is that girls are, a) forking out for this, and b) creating a micro economy/industry out of it. Claire, a lash extension devotee and PA from South Liverpool, is currently saving up to undergo a lash course, simply to supplement her normal full-time income. She currently pays £25 for the upkeep of her lashes, so with courses costing typically around £300 it would only take a year of doing her own lashes (or 12 sets of infills for clients) to make her money back.

Scouse Prins should be applauded for their dedication to a look that could almost be described as being a full-on lifestyle. The Scouse Prin is surely one of the most iconic looks to come out of Northern England since the days of the casuals. While there are books, films and documentaries all dedicated to the Liverpool casual boys, we are yet to see the Prin celebrated in the same way. It’s interesting to note, though, that when the hugely popular North: Fashioning Identity exhibition made its way down from Liverpool to London last year, it was a contemporary photo of Scouse girls in rollers that was used in all the promotional material and posters, with not a trainer in sight.

“The Scouse Prin is surely one of the most iconic looks to come out of Northern England since the days of the casuals”

Scouse Prins should be applauded for their dedication to a look that could almost be described as being a full-on lifestyle. The Scouse Prin is surely one of the most iconic looks to come out of Northern England since the days of the casuals. While there are books, films and documentaries all dedicated to the Liverpool casual boys, we are yet to see the Prin celebrated in the same way. It’s interesting to note, though, that when the hugely popular North: Fashioning Identity exhibition made its way down from Liverpool to London last year, it was a contemporary photo of Scouse girls in rollers that was used in all the promotional material and posters, with not a trainer in sight.

One thing that perhaps unites these two unlikely tribes, the causals and the Prins, is that both looks developed in a very insular way. Unlike Fashion Week shows that take place across the globe, where stylists, editors and designers simply look to each other to determine the trends, Liverpool takes its own path. Scouse Bird, (or Steph B) sheds some further light on this, noting “there’s the phrase ‘Scouse not English’: Liverpool distances itself from the rest of the UK, particularly down South. We have an attitude of looking out for ourselves and forgetting what the rest thinks. That breeds a culture of individuality; we don’t care what Vogue says, or what’s coming out of London Fashion Week. We wear what we think looks good, we do our hair however we want it. We’re influenced by local designers and each other – if the girl in work dyes her hair bright red and people think it looks good then that’s how trends catch on here. It’s not about what the reality stars or Hollywood celebs are doing. We’re a micro-culture in a big, glamorous bubble.”

You could argue that Liverpool Prins are starting the trends; the Kardashians/Jenners are given a whole lot of credit for revolutionising the beauty industry, but let’s not forget that Scouse girls were contouring their faces and shaping their brows well before Kylie Jenner got her first lip filler. Likewise, Patrick Wilson, the 25-year-old Liverpool hairdresser, has gone from training at Barbra Daley, gaining a reputation in Liverpool for his voluminous curly blowouts, to assisting world-renowned hairdresser Sam McKnight at shows such as Chanel and Fendi, taking his signature ‘Wilson Waves’ with him.

It is high time that we celebrate and take ownership of the Scouse Prin. She is truly a phenomenon and an icon, uninfluenced by the trends governing the wider fashion and beauty world. The level of dedication to the Scouse Prin look is rivalled only by fashion weeks and subcultures, and for a city that’s so typically regarded by the rest of the country as working class, the financial dedication required to maintain such looks is also something we should be shouting about. These are, for the most part, normal girls who are driving a micro-economy of their own and couldn’t care less about leaving the rest of the country to catch up with them.

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