Right now, the currency for all things girl power has never been at its highest. Well, since May 1997, anyhow. And in a year which has bought us a Spice Girls comeback stadium tour they said wouldn’t happen again after the last one in 2007, the generation that grew up around all things Ginger, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Posh two decades ago is now driving their message of inclusivity, gobbiness and positive thinking forward.
That’s the argument of Lauren Bravo, journalist for the likes of The Guardian, Grazia and Cosmopolitan in her debut book, titled ‘What Would the Spice Girls Do?’, and then subtitled ‘How the Girl Power generation grew up’. There’s been a couple of excellent books that have explored the musical and recording history of the Spice Girls and their impact in pop history – David Sinclair’s ‘Wannabe’ in 2004, and more recently Quentin Harrison’s brilliant ‘Record Redux’ volume that chronicled their discography, both together as a group and as solo artists, in its entirety up to 2016.
But Lauren’s book is the first to explore the wider impact they had on a cultural, social and even commercial level, and crucially, their impact on the young girls – and boys – who were fans of them growing up and are now empowered, strong and determined adult women and men. No stone is left unturned in her quest to tap into each crucial element of the formula behind the biggest girl group in history and what they mean now in the 21st century.
And much like it’s subject, these elements are explored with humour, fearlessness, engagement and genuine likeability. One underlying theme of the book, and which Lauren explores both sides of, is about the one argument that has always circled the girls like a hawk since they zig-a-zig-aahed into our lives and onto the world’s stage 23 years ago: the debate over whether ‘Girl Power’ was a dirty marketing slogan or something much wider reaching.
But this book is proof, if any was needed, that the latter defence has won out. As Geri Halliwell said as recently as 2017, ‘Sometimes you have to dip vegetables in chocolate. No one likes to be preached to.’ Lauren’s book is adorned lovingly with nostalgic pop cultural references that anyone who was between the ages of 5 and 15 in the mid 90s will automatically recognise to illustrate her points on certain subjects – be that on confidence, style, embracing success, putting friendships first and learning lessons from the women that came before you and where the future lies ahead.
There’s also a compelling argument here which really makes this book a winner: the idea that it takes 20 years for things to become fashionable again. Working on this basis, the time for the Spice Girls and indeed this book is now. And as Lauren argues, the fun that underpinned everything they did, whether it was topping the charts, selling out tours, advertising bags of crisps or pinching Prince Charles on the bum, is something we badly need in our society again at present. More power to ‘What Would the Spice Girls Do?’ for putting that message out there again.
‘What Would the Spice Girls Do?’ is out now, published by Bantam Press. Lauren also has a new book, titled ‘How to Break Up With Fast Fashion’, set for publication on 9th January 2020. Find her on Twitter: @LaurenBravo
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