It’s May 1997. I’m backstage at my primary school with 4 of my best friends preparing ourselves for the performance of a lifetime. I was in an animal print catsuit and my hair was back-combed to within an inch of its life.
I was about to take to the stage as Mel B for the first and only time. Almost 20 years later and I owe so much to The Spice Girls.
If you were anything like me and spent your formative teen years throwing peace signs around and perfecting the posh pout, you’ll more than likely feel the love I do for those girls, the authenticity of their relationships, those lyrics, and most importantly the culture they brought with them.
The message was clear: Ladies, you got this shit handled and you have the right to kick butt. Plus, it’s entirely ok to wear a heap of makeup and outrageous clothes whilst doing it. The Spice Girls arrived in my life during my final year of an all-girls primary school, where I was surrounded by women telling me I could be and do anything but where the reality of life and pop culture didn’t replicate that.
Girl Power redefined the way women were ‘allowed’ to see themselves, and the lessons I learnt have carried through from that Thursday in 1997 all the way through to my 30s.
The girls were unabashedly unapologetic about their no-boys-allowed attitude.
The lyrics made sense, they cut through so much of the pressure I felt in my years teens, they said the words I wished I could have conjured. Surely the essence of loving music is finding resonance in someone else’s words.
Here are the three lessons the Spice Girls taught me…
1. Dress for yourself
Never mind coordinating, matchy-matchy Girls Aloud, girl power was about being yourself, wearing what you want and owning the shit out of it.
2. Feminism isn’t a dirty word
They were the first people I heard shout about feminism, new feminism, the kind of feminism that every one needs. The kind I needed to hear.
3. The power of words
2 Become 1 was the first song I slow danced to with a boy I really liked.
“Candle light and soul forever, a dream of you and me together”
Mama makes me appreciate my mum. Did then, does now.
Viva Forever was the go-to break up song when my Year 8 boyfriend dumped me during Geography because I wouldn’t kiss him in front of the other lads.
They’re my girls. I’m Sporty, Baby, Geri, Scary and Posh. I’m each of them individually and a blend of them together. That has seen me well in this life I’ve lived so far and I have no doubt they will continue to do me proud.
Let’s finish off with Adele singing along to Wannabe, proving the eternal power of the Spice Girls.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx7KB9cWC7Q]
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