In grade seven, we had to “get to know” our fellow students by interviewing them in class. As someone who didn't clue in as to why nobody wanted to be friends with a pink pant-wearing 12-year-old who was obsessed with Titanic, I figured this was my chance; my chance to finally – finally – prove how cool I was.
“So,” began my (now) best friend, Erica. “What's your favourite musical group?”
“The Spice Girls,” I answered promptly.
“Okay. Your favourite song?”
“'Spice Up Your Life.'”
“Huh. Favourite movie?”
“And favourite actress?”
“Baby Spice, probably. In Spice World.”
So needless to say, I remained friendless at school for the rest of the year. My friend at home, however, understood. We packed scrapbooks full of Spice Girls paraphernalia, ate freakish amounts of Spice Girls chocolate, spent babysitting money on Spice Girls dolls, and performed Spice Girls choreography outside our houses. To us, the Spice Girls meant adulthood; they meant empowerment, and they meant a celebration of originality. They also meant feminism – but I didn't clue into that until I was old enough to realize that's what it was called.
In fact, we weren't the only young women to cling to the fabric of Spice Girls culture. And if you also grew up in the age of “if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends,” you may already know that everything we needed to know we learned from the Spice Girls thus rendering this list entirely pointless. And yet, I wrote it for you anyway.
1. Celebrate individuality
So were the Spice Girls the product of a kickass marketing team? Absolutely. And now that we've got that out of the way, we can focus on what matters more: the celebration and cultivation of each member's originality. There was Sporty, Scary, Baby, Posh, and Ginger, and despite their obvious differences (we all remember how hard Sporty rolled her eyes when Victoria couldn't decide between her little Gucci dress or her little Gucci dress), the Fab Five still got along, respected and championed each other's differences and prioritized friendship over “Oh, you're not the way I am? No thank you.” We all know the best types of posses have only the most colourful personalities.
2. Girl Power
I think as reading, thinking human beings, we can understand why “girl power” as a life mantra is problematic (read: we are women, not girls, and with that power must also come change and reclamation, blah blah internet feminist blah). But when you're the age when being a girl begins to mean catcalling, objectification, and harassment, hearing a phrase – ANY phrase – that once again makes you feel proud to be a woman (as opposed to someone who wants to hide under an enormous sweatshirt and aforementioned pink pants), you embrace it wholeheartedly. Frankly, there could be worse things we screamed around the schoolyard, but instead we followed accomplishments with “girl power!” Because goddamn it, girls are powerful.
3. Friendship and sisterhood rules all
According to current pop culture, there's no way five women can be friends without descending into a gossip and hate spiral. (I mean, I've seen Sex and the City – remember how upset Carrie got when that character did something Carrie personally wouldn't have done, so she wrote about it on the computer she never backed up?) However, the Spice Girls set a precedent: not only is sisterhood and their friendship important, but nobody – nobody; not the guy they're singing about “Wannabe,” not Clifford the manager in Spice World, and not their schedules – was going to stand in the way of it. The Spice Girls never sang about women in a derogatory sense. Women were never sluts, or bitches, or even competition – the Spice Girls' mandate was “friendship and women are powerful, and you there, boy, can deal with it.” (Also: “Mums are cool.”)
4. Fashion can be fun
At one time or another, most of us just wanted to be cool. We did our hair to be cool, we put on makeup to be cool, and we dressed a certain way to be cool. And do you know who was cool? Maybe you – you seem cool. I, however, was not. And neither were the Spice Girls – who didn't need to be. They dressed the way they wanted, and, Union Jack dress included, landed on worst dressed lists because of that. And who cared? Not the Spice Girls. They promoted freedom of personal expression, not trends or “fashion don'ts.” In the words of Cartman from South Park, they didn't care – they did want they want(ed). Namely, wearing dresses shorter than their underpants.
5. What good pop music is
And ultimately, maybe this is the most important lesson of all. (Just kidding: power through feminism by far takes the cake.) But hello, pop stars of today, take note: it's been almost 20 years since we adopted “zig-a-zig-ah” and most of us can still sing and dance along to the complete Spice Girls discography. (Minus everything after Goodbye, obviously, since losing Ginger was something I still need to think never happened.)