‘What would the Spice Girls do?’ is a question I’m sure many late 80s/early 90s baby has asked themselves.
I was born in ’97, slimly missing out on the hype of Spicemania at its peak, but they spiced up the life of people of the world, (well, mostly girls of the UK), and that notion certainly lingered for years to come.
My then nine-year-old sister (now coming up for 30, sorry Kirsty) was a devout Sporty Spice with full tracksuit and high ponytail. Kirsty is actually the one who bought me this book for Christmas, I think it was partly through pride that her baby sister was interested in the Spice Girls, but probably because it was written on my list… in bold… and underlined.
Lauren Bravo’s book reminisces how Spice nicknames were delegated to kids in playground groups, dependent on looks and personality traits. You rarely had a choice, and you probably weren’t your favourite Spice, but hey, the Spice Girls were cool and I’ll take one over none. Had it still been a thing when I was at school, I’d defo have been Ginger spice, despite claiming I was strawberry blonde until the age of 12 when I just gave up on that.
What Would The Spice Girls Do? Was released in October 2018, 20 years post-Spice. It’s a book the world didn’t know it needed, and a book any girl between the ages of 20-35 will love.
Whilst this book is about the Spice Girls, it’s about more than just five pop artists and their music, just like the Spice Girls were more than your average girl band. This book is about the girls-turned-women whom the Spice Girls empowered, it’s about the rise of feminism in modern culture and be beginning of the girl power movement.
Lauren’s friend and fellow author Daisy Buchanan puts it as ‘a joyous and energetic celebration of girlhood, friendship and pop culture. If you have ever sung into the can of an Impulse body spray, you need to read this.’ And I wholeheartedly agree.
The book is full of nostalgic moments that make you grin behind the pages of the little pink book. Moments you weren’t sure if you were the only one that did that, but confirms you weren’t alone. It reminds you of the god awful stylistic choices you made, and the ones that came back to haunt us years later, but died a second time – tattoo chokers, I’m looking at you.
If I were to write a dissertation, which unfortunately, I’m not – it would have definitely been inspired by this book. There are some real key feminist issues discussed in here, in a light-hearted, chatty and comedic way, which is something I love about Bravo’s writing. Her style makes it feel like she’s both stood on a pedestal giving a power-speech to the masses of women in their buffalo platforms and throwing the peace sign, but also like you’re best friends over a table drinking over-priced coffee and going over those ‘remember whens-‘. It’s a feeling of ‘if you were a fan of the Spice Girls, you’re a friend of mine’ – it was something that united young women and tweens ad sparks a sense of sadness and wistfulness when you realise it’s passed.
Back to the issues, though, this book debates whether or not the Spice Girls were feminist icons, and gives a pretty strong argument for this. Perhaps by today’s standards there are better icons, but back in the 90s they were certainly needed to kickstart the mass movement in a more modern and unapologetic way. Lauren’s arguments are passionate and thoroughly researched, delving deeply into the inner workings of the Spice world and the impact it had on UK teens.
Between Lauren’s beautifully written points are quotes and stories from other Spice fans, reinforcing the girl gang mentality and the fact we definitely weren’t the only ones. There are also some pretty hilarious listicles that I looked forward to reading after every chapter, like ‘Spice Girls for the modern world’ (complete with Vegan Spice and Self-care Spice), and ‘13 things that didn’t last as long as girl power’, featuring Peter Andre’s sex appeal (very short lived) and The Tamagotchi.
This book is a blast from the past, and if ever I wanted to build a time capsule, I would include this book. It’s an important part of womanhood, girl power, the coming-of-age and more. There are so many nineties gems in there, and hey, the future needs to know about the Spice Girls and how they inspired an entire generation of women to be themselves. Loudly, unapologetically and in bloody big shoes – maybe they’ll even figure out what a zig-a-zig-ah is.