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Sorry Mel C, Little Mix don't want you to be their mum (but you can be ours)

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Melanie Chisholm, aka Sporty Spice, is undoubtedly one of our faves. A down-to-earth northerner who marches to her own beat, she was our original athleisure hero and has always refused to pander to mainstream ideals of sexiness.

Over the last 20-odd years in the spotlight, she's established herself as endearingly honest, from famously challenging one-time adversary Liam Gallagher to "Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough" on stage at the 1997 Brit Awards, to recently revealing she turned down a lucrative Spice Girls reunion to protect her mental health.


Read more: The feminist legacy of the Spice Girls


Last month the 42-year-old's former bandmate Victoria Beckham penned a high-profile letter of advice to her younger self - an admirable missive, if a relatively safe strike in the designer's slick PR agenda. In typical fashion, Chisholm has tumbled outside the safety net of subtlety in relating some gentle advice of her own - not to her past self - but to the hitmakers of today who she feels are "over-sexualised."

"[The] Spice Girls were never put under any pressure to be sexy," she tells AOL. "My question is why do young girls want to be portrayed in that way? There just seems to be a trend of young people being over-sexualised extremely young."

Little Mix, the most high-profile British girl band of the moment, have been singled out by Chisholm for being "provocative". 

"I love Little Mix. I loved them from The X Factor. I just thought they were so different," she tells the Sunday People. "But they are getting more provocative."

Little Mix

Little Mix

"To me, they were kind of the closest thing to the Spice Girls we've seen ... but they weren't sexy and it's got more and more that way. I love them - but I just say, 'Stay you'."

The wise words of an experienced woman in the know, or a patronising dig? 

We can probably guess which option Little Mix's Jesy Nelson would choose. The 25-year-old issued what's naturally being construed as a cheeky riposte to Chisholm on the group's Instagram page:

Teen awards 😏

A photo posted by Little Mix (@littlemix) on

Responding on Twitter, the ex-Spice Girl did not dispute her direct quotes in the Sunday People, but accused the media of stirring up a feud by suggesting that her comments equate to "slamming" Little Mix. She clarified that she would "always love and support" the group. 

Aside from the absoluteness of her adoration for Little Mix, the question remains as to whether the Girl Power legend is bang on about stars being exploited and over-sexualised, or if she's assigning an unnecessary victim status to young women that risks stifling burgeoning female expression and identity.


Read more: How the Spice Girls really got their nicknames


She's not the only established star to assume a motherly status with a younger artist only to have it backfire. Back in 2013 Sinead O'Connor published an open letter to Miley Cyrus after seeing her iconic Wrecking Ball video, warning the ex-Hannah Montana star against being "prostituted" by a male-dominated industry. It was, she said, written in "the spirit of motherliness and with love."

As is usually the way with unsolicited advice - especially the type with overtones of criticism - neither Cyrus or Little Mix responded in kind.

While both Chisholm and O'Connor may have valid points and concerns about the pressures on women, they risk blunting the value of their opinions by pinning them on individual targets.

And Chisholm didn't really help her cause by dipping into nan's drawer of tired cliches for a "back in my day" line.

"We live in a narcissistic age - it's 100 per cent worse than when I was in the Spice Girls. It was a more innocent time."

C'mon, as much as 2 Become 1 is admirable for its promotion of safe sex, lyrics about putting on condoms, no matter how softly delivered, are arguably pretty provocative, in 2016, or 1996.

You get a sense that somewhere in the background, there's probably a nervy rep peeking through their fingers at Chisholm's interactions with the media - and she doesn't care. For that reason Mel, you can always be our mum.

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