The Spice Girls were one of the biggest pop culture icons of the nineties, bringing feminism into the mainstream through their consistent focus on ‘girl power’. Now, just after they announced their reunion tour – minus ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Beckham – the girl group have changed their tune and are embracing ‘people power’.
In an interview with The Sun promoting their six-date 2019 UK stadium tour, the group says that they’re all about equality and bringing people together.
“We have this ethos about girls support girls, women support women,” ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Horner says, “the Spice Girls support everybody, very inclusive”
When discussing the recent events in the #MeToo movement, the girls want to move the conversation forward.
“We want to bring lightness now and that’s really important to us, and joy,” says ‘Baby Spice’ Emma Bunton.
“We can do it through the songs, we do it through coming together, everybody matters to us,” adds Horner.
“It’s the philosophy of Spice Up Your Life, you know, ‘every boy, every girl’. It doesn’t matter where you are, everybody’s welcome.”
Formed in 1994 to compete against popular boy bands, the Spice Girls quickly became one of the best-selling female groups of all time and the biggest British pop success since The Beatles.
Their debut single Wannabe was praised as a feminist anthem upon its release and was used for the United Nations’ ‘#WhatIReallyReallyWant’ campaign in 2016 to highlight gender inequality issues worldwide.
It wasn’t just their songs that sparked a movement, but also their clothing choices. Ginger Spice’s minidress from the 1997 BRIT Awards, with the Union Jack on the front and the peace symbol on the back, became synonymous with the group and the Girl Power movement.
However, in a 2007 interview with The Guardian, Horner denounced that she was a feminist.
“It’s about labelling. For me, feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It’s very unglamorous,” she said,
“I’d like to see it rebranded. We need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness.”
But she’s not the only female celebrity to reject feminism and later change her mind.
In 2012, Taylor Swift refused to say whether she was a feminist, instead, saying that she was brought up to think “if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life”. She soon became a vocal advocate for the feminist movement when she came to understand what the term meant.
“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities,” she told The Guardian in 2014.
Lady Gaga told The Los Angeles Times in 2009 that she wasn’t a feminist, saying “I hail men, I love men, I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars, and muscle cars”. However, she revised her position in 2014 when she said she has no problem identifying as a feminist.
“A feminist to me is somebody that wishes to protect the integrity of women who are ambitious,” she said to The Times in 2014.
“A feminist, in my opinion, is somebody that regards that women have a strong intelligence and wisdom. That we are just as great as men — and some of us can be even better.”
In a similar way to the Spice Girls, Little Mix is a British girl group who are currently breaking records and helping shape the current feminist movement.
Their fourth album, Glory Days, was the longest-reigning girl group number one album since the Spice Girls‘ debut album 20 years earlier, and the highest first week UK album sales for a girl band since Spiceworld.
“When we were younger, we had the Spice Girls and groups like that to look up to, that had this really empowering message and made you feel really good about yourself,” Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix told Billboard in 2013, “and I think it’s kind of about time that it was brought around again.”
After constantly being criticised for their choice of stage outfits and performances, the girls of Little Mix hit back in a recent interview with Attitude magazine.
“Being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to wear a polo-neck jumper and a pair of trousers. Anyone can be feminist. Feminism is just believing in equality,” Jade Thirlwall said.
Whether it’s ‘girl power’, ‘women power’ or ‘people power’, there’s no denying that there is a strength in girl groups and the messages they deliver.
The Spice Girls have currently teamed up with Comic Relief to release a range of clothes with the hashtag #IWANNABEASPICEGIRL. All of the proceeds will go towards Comic Relief’s Gender Justice initiative, which helps champion equality for women.
“Equality and the movement of people power has always been at the heart of the band,” the Spice Girls said in a statement, “it is about equality for all.”
Only available for three weeks, you can purchase the Spice Girls charity tees, hoodies and sweatshirts here.