Monday 27 May 2019

Why the Spice Girls Were the Idols of a Generation

With the long awaited and much anticipated Spice World reunion kicking off last Friday in Croke Park, Dublin, Spicemania is once again building and the world is once again twitching at the curtains to watch their every move. 
But just why is it that a generation idolised these 5 world-dominating females in the mid 90s and even to this day?

As a female born in 1991, I was understandably a massive fan of the Spice Girls and really, they were the first thing that I ever considered myself a fan of. 
Now, I was only 5/6 years old when they came on the scene and whilst hardly any of the lyrics would make sense to a child of that age, for me, it was all about what they symbolised. They symbolised a strong, fun group of females who had each others' backs invariably. They symbolised the fact that 5 girls who have totally different vibes, different interests and different styles could be the very best of friends. They symbolised the fact that people could be unique, true to themselves and regardless of that, could absolutely conquer the world in whatever it was that they set their mind to. 

And that vibe was something that, I'm sure, carried itself through the fandom. When I think back to being that 5/6 year old in primary school, I reminisce about the fact that myself and several other girls would 'play Spice Girls' during play-time, decide who was going to be who and then spend the remaining 15/20 minutes in a circle re-enacting Wannabe or Stop. This became a daily thing and before we knew it, every morning and afternoon break was spent playing 'pop-group'. To the point where teachers were noticing it and the other kids too. As we got older, those girls and I would drift and fall into different friendship groups, take different paths and therefore become somewhat disassociated with each other. But thinking back to that time on the playgrounds of our primary, there were no cliques, no popularity contests, no pre-occupation with image or reputation, albeit the odd heated debate over who got to be Baby that day but overall just several young girls having such fun, with such innocence and simplicity and just coming together over a mutual love for their idols.

Growing up, you start to realise that those symbolisations were very much at the heart of what Spice Girls were about, regardless of the demographic of their fans. Of course, Spicemania surged internationally and manifested itself on the shelves of shops, on radio stations and on TV channels across the world. Girl Power became their catchphrase and with the Union Jack dress and the platforms, they became iconic. SpiceWorld, One Hour of Girl Power and the Pepsi, Walkers and Cadbury campaigns - they were quite simply, everywhere. 
For that reason, many will question the phenomenon from the point of view of consumerism, feminism and the overall role model debate. But at face value, these ladies and their mantra of Girl Power, allowed young women in particular to grow up amidst a wave of female empowerment, total celebration of diversity in personality, a desire to support and encourage other girls and allowed them to watch five women from entirely different backgrounds completely dominate the 90s and take control of their own legacy and success. In my book, that can only be a bloody magnificent thing, especially given that previously, periods like this had been few and far between.

When Geri left in 1998, it immediately threw those ideologies of support, encouragement and loyalty into disarray. Hence why it was such a big deal, both to fans and amongst the group. Only on reflection does it make total sense as to why this happened. These were 5 totally different people, who spent every second of everyday with each other, in a massive pressure cooker with no time to reflect and recuperate and the eyes of the world constantly watching and judging. Whilst it took a while to heal, the reunion in 2008 proved that no matter the circumstance, these ladies were those kind of people who can be away from each other for a substantial period of time but once reunited, would be right back in that moment. I never had the opportunity to go to this reunion tour which was a shame as it was all 5, back in their full glory. But thankfully, the 2019 reunion, although just a four piece, has gone to colossal heights and this time round, that little girl who remembers the days of 'playing Spice Girls' in the primary playground will get the chance to see those she idolised.

So to answer the question, why were the Spice Girls the idols of a generation?
They were the idols of a generation because they helped to spread the message that you can be real and just 100% unapologetically yourself and it doesn't matter if that is entirely different from the person standing next to you. 
They helped to spread the message that girls can do anything they set their minds to, even if the societal landscape at the time might suggest otherwise. 
They helped to spread the message that even if you are entirely different from the friend standing next to you, that we should still encourage, support and empower each other wholeheartedly. 
They helped spread the message that you can do anything when you have faith in yourself and have a damn good network of support around you. 
Mel B once said that she feels incredibly powerful when she's in the company of the other four girls and that is something that resonates with me, as I'm sure it does with many of their other fans. I have groups of friends who are like family and who I instantly feel comfortable, powerful and supported in the presence of too.

Be around people who make you feel that important and powerful, who help you believe in yourself and spread positivity.
And let's all be those people too, because the Spice Girls taught us so.

Liked this post? Check out Britannia Rules the (Radio) Waves, another one of my posts centred around the music and pop culture that shaped me.


  1. I agree they were idolized by a lot of girls including me. They represented diversity which was not seen a lot in girl groups then or years before. I believe most girls can see a part of themselves in Spice Girls.

    1. I do too, I think they represented everyone. And even if there wasn't one you could relate to, there was one you wanted to be more like.

  2. I loved this post, I absolutely loved the Spice Girls back in the day! I love that they were all so unique but worked together amazingly :)

    Kate |

    1. Exactly! A mantra that society should use and promote more!

  3. Great post! I was born in 1992 and was a huge fan of the Spice Girls!