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Is Mel B’s VMAs dress a message to all women who have faced abuse?

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The fashion worn at the MTV Video Music Awards is always a hot topic, even days after the event has finished. Best-dressed lists are curated, fashion designers are credited and high street trends are derived from the conveyor belt of outfits being paraded by some of the music industry’s most prevalent artists.


Read more: What to do if you suspect your friend is a victim of domestic abuse


But this year, one outfit in particular has attracted attention – and not for any of the usual reasons. Melanie Brown, aka Scary Spice and former member of Spice Girls, attended the awards night donning a completely sequinned pencil dress.

Mel B

Mel B at the 2017 VMAs

Of course, she looked fabulous – and if this were some kind of style Bake Off, you could certainly describe the embellished, multicoloured metallic dress a ‘showstopper’.

But there’s another, more important reason that this Spice Girl’s sartorial choice garnered the attention it has.

Emblazoned across the front of Brown’s dress were the words ‘You Will Never Own Me’.


Read more: A lawyer explains how to safely escape an abusive relationship


Brown filed for a divorce from Stephen Belafonte, her husband of 10 years, in March. She was granted a restraining order against him after allegations that he physically and emotionally abused her throughout their relationship. He denies the claims. The couple’s case is currently going through court.

While many have branded the dress a ‘revenge’ choice, the latest move in a public celebrity split, for others the words could be interpreted as a powerful nod to the feelings of entrapment that women in abusive relationships often report – though of course, the court case has yet to reach a conclusion.

Fans on Twitter have been quick to surmise that Brown’s dress is a reference to her past relationship.

One Twitter user showed their love for Brown’s dress, tweeting, “Mel B is wearing a dress that says ‘You Will Never Own Me’ and now I love her even more”.

Another encouraged the former Spice Girl to “keep moving forward”.

We can’t know for certain if this dress has a deeper meaning, or if it is in fact, just a wardrobe choice.

But the message still stands, whatever her personal situation: no woman should ever feel owned by their partner or trapped in a relationship. If you have doubts about your partner and their behaviour towards you then you should seek help with charities such as Refuge and Women’s Aid which support victims of domestic abuse. 

Images: Rex Features

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