Spice Girls and Feminism

Some time ago, I was listening to the radio when a journalist explained how growing up with the Spice Girls made her a feminist without knowing it. This resonated with me as I was obsessed with Ginger Spice and collected everything I could get from the band (I still have a pretty complete collection of mood-colour-changing Spice Girls rings!). It got me thinking about the girls band and what it taught me.

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1) You don’t have to dress in pink and be cute to be a girl… unless that’s your thing. What I loved most about these girls was that in my 8 years old mind, they were so authenticly and unapologetically themselves. They all had strong, independent and different personnas that you could relate or aspire to, and that was part of their feminimity. Being Scary Spice did not make her any less woman, just as being Sporty Spice didn’t make her a boy. The Spice Girls offered young me with different options as how to be a girl and a woman, something that was particularly rare yet so important.

2) Girls could do anything. Fast forward to the Spice Girl movie, Spice World: granted, this is probably one of the worst film ever made in all kinds of ways. Yet, it showed my favourite girls doing all sorts of things, crushing a bad guy, meeting aliens and rocking a super show. These girls were unstopable, extremely energetic and so alive. It taught young me that there were no limits.

3) Female friendship, when truly found, is a sacred thing. The Spice Girls were so incredible because they stuck together and seemed to really be BFFs. I was devastated when they separated because their friendship seemed so undestructible. Through their friendship they conquered the world and were even big in Japan. Growing up, I longed for this type of friendship. Honestly, I’m still longing for it and all the support it implies.

So, in a nutshell, yes, the Spice Girls and what they represented in my young mind totally had a feminist effect on my upbringing. Theirs was the first CD I ever had, and I felt so grown-up listening to it on my parents’ stereo. Their music is still helping me rock interval training sessions and dance in my pyjamas when I need a quick happiness boost. A big thank you to this legendary formation. BTW, I’m still waiting for a second last reunion tour.



This week, she had a realization.

During her Spanish class, she was given an info-gap exercise where she had to create a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu for a wedding. Skimming the text, she realized that there were no vegetarian options but only meat and fish. So, she naively asked the teacher where the vegetarian meals were. The teacher told her they were the fish dishes. She was a bit confused so she said that vegetarian don’t actually eat fish or seafood. The teacher answered that all her vegetarian friends ate fish and so the options were vegetarian. So she repeated that no, vegetarian did not eat fish: fish being animals it would not make sense. Another eavesdropping students said that the teacher was right: vegetarians do eat fish, it’s the vegan that “don’t eat nothing but beans and lettuce”. She was surprised by their ignorance and nodded her way out of the conversation.

This happened in a university course, in a vibrant multicultural, multilingual city. Yet, people do not know what it is implied in the words “vegetarian” or “vegan”. She was really surprised to see that even technically “educated” people were not aware of such distinctions. Moreover,she was a bit shocked by the refusal of discussion. Granted that this was just a Spanish exercise, but still. Sometimes, she wish people would be more open and ready to accept it when they lack some knowledge. This incident was probably due to the fact that the teacher had never thought about vegetarianism/veganism. That’s alright, but pretending to know is silly.

This was just an incident that happened. It did not change her resolutions or her choices. It just made her realize that veganism still has a long way to go…

I guess we have to be prepared for those comments.

I guess we have to be prepared for those comments.