Girl Power: Lessons in Feminism From the Spice Girl Era

“Girl Power!”

Did you know? In terms of record sales, Spice Girls are still the best-selling female group of all time? You gotta give it up to Baby, Posh, Scary, Sporty and Ginger. They totally had it going on. Although their message was broadcast to the world from a bubble gum pop princess girl group platform, their message of lady power is inspirational to say the least. Let’s talk about how Spice Girls encouraged feminism and the lessons we can learn from this fab five.

Spice up your life!

As a young lady growing up in a Spice World (that’s what I’m dubbing the Spice GIrl era) I have to say that these ladies really inspired me to be proud of being a girl. What did I learn from the Spice Girls? Girls are cool, beautiful, and powerful and when we bond together, we can accomplish anything. Friendship and good relationships with other women are important.  Your friends should always come before a boyfriend. It’s OK to experiment and be a little wild (with fashion, new experiences and in making new friends). And, of course, most importantly: Be Yourself.

I also love how they didn’t represent one image of what it is to be a girl but five unique types of girls. Of course it would have been great to have an Academic Spice or a Bookworm spice or a Science Spice (with goggles – ha!) but I will always be thrilled with the five they gave us. Yeah, they all rocked the platforms and high heels but they also showed fans that being a girl isn’t the same for everyone, but more importantly, it was powerful to be a girl. It was cool to be fierce and sassy like Posh, feminine and demure like Baby or athletic but strong like Sporty.  Personally, I remember awkwardly tromping around school in my baby blue foam platform sandals high-fiving my girlfriends with a “Girl Power” spring in my step.

Let’s talk about this phrase, Girl Power. The great Wikipedia said the following about Spice Girls’ slogan “Girl Power”:

The phrase was a label for the particular facet of feminist empowerment embraced by the band: that a sensual, feminine appearance and equality between the sexes need not be mutually exclusive. This concept was by no means original in the pop world; both Madonna and Bananarama had employed similar outlooks.

Hell yeah we can look good and be equal to a man! I sit here and wonder- who are the ladies doing this for young women today? I feel like there hasn’t quite been such a diverse girl group plugging raw unfiltered girl power since them. Sure, we’ve got Beyonce, Kreashawn, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj but none of these ladies emphasize the importance of friendships and relationships with other women as a way to build up women/girl power.

I would love to hear other folks’ Spice Girl memories and thoughts on the Spice Girls’ feminist agenda.

9 thoughts on “Girl Power: Lessons in Feminism From the Spice Girl Era”

  1. Spice Girls. Ah, the fifth grade. I remember I had all the stickers from all the lollipops, and there was only one deli in town you could get them from. I begged my dad to take me to Spiceworld when it came out, but he didn’t. I saw it later on, and it was so atrocious, I wondered what the big deal was.

    I still listen to their music, though. And I often ponder the Girl Power message. I remember the boys at school teased us if we wore anything saying that slogan. I’d hardly call it my first introduction to feminism, but it did make me a little more conscious of what being a girl meant and entailed at that point in history.

  2. I had pretty much the same haircut as Posh, so I was always Posh in my little group of friends. We were waayyy into the Spice Girls- I had photographs, a book, a necklace, all their CDs, the movie and the Spice Girl brand lollipops. We performed Stop Right Now at the talent show at Brownies- I still remember most of the dance!

  3. We also have Pink.  Who yeah, doesn’t have the friendship thing going, but she’s a badass, she demonstrates many, many different ways of being a strong powerful woman, and a lot of pride in herself.  I dunno.  I think she’s about my favorite pop star, role-model wise, on the scene today.

    1. P!nk is one of the few female artists performing today that I respect both as an artist and as a great role model for women. She can be tough and badass and she can be soft and vulnerable. She is an advocate for smart girls, for freaks and geeks, for equality and acceptance. She is incredible!

  4. I wanted to be Ginger Spice, because finally there was a cool, exciting red head. But I got out-yelled that I was supposed to be Scary because my hair looked the most like an afro. Only later did I realize that that at least meant I didn’t had to wear such little clothes.

    Spice Girls have been pretty much the only ‘fandom’ I had stuff from. I had a matching T-shirt and legging and of course I’ve got a tape (!) from Spice World.

    1. I am both touched by this and saddened. So conflicted. YAY for cool red heads boo for tiny clothes (so true). Its nice to hear I’m not the only one who didn’t want to be Baby- I feel like she was always ‘the cutest’ one. All black dresses, with that bitchy pout- Posh spice all the way for this lady.
      I loved all the Spice fan gear. I just remember having costuming items my gal pals and I would get together and dress up in.

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