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The depressing reason the Spice Girls started up the ‘Girl Power’ movement

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Kayleigh Dray
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The Spice Girls were the epitome of female empowerment back in the day – but it has now been revealed that Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, Mel B, Emma Bunton and Mel C never initially intended to bring #girlpower to the world.

Speaking in a frank new interview, Mel C has explained that she and the gang created their famous slogan in reaction to the discrimination they experienced, which included being snubbed from being cover stars on magazines.

“Girl power was something that we never intended,” she said, according to Female First.

“When we started we were a pop group and we just wanted to sing and be famous and travel the world and we never really thought about that side of things at all.

“But, as soon as we were heading into the music industry, we started to be faced with some sexism. We were told girls don’t sell. We would go into magazines and editors would tell us, ‘We can’t put you on the cover because we won’t sell enough magazines that week.’”

Unsurprisingly, that did not go down well with the feminist pop group.

“That really made us have a bee in our bonnets,” Mel C recalled, “and that’s when we started talking about Girl Power.

“We realised we had something really important to say. It gave us even more determination to succeed because we realised very early on, we weren’t just doing it for ourselves and each other, we were doing it for girls.”

She added firmly: “Being told we couldn’t do something was like a red rag to a bull to the Spice Girls.”

Last year, one such example of this sexism was revealed when behind-the-scenes footage of the Spice Girls on the set of a 1997 Polaroid commercial was leaked on Twitter.

Dressed in school uniforms for their parts as Harrow schoolgirls, the band can be seen losing their tempers when a misogynist director demands they show their cleavage and midriffs.

Marching up to him, Mel B asks: “Was it you? Why did you ask that [we show cleavage and midriffs]?”

“It’s every man’s fantasy,” he replies sleazily, before adding: “That’s showbiz.”

However he didn’t bank on the rest of the Spice Girls turning up to back Mel up.

Geri, pointing a finger in his face, slams him (accurately) as a “chauvinistic pig”. Meanwhile Posh Spice, appearing out of nowhere, does what she does best; schools them in fashion.

“It’s not sunny,” she says, pulling his sunglasses from his head. “Stop trying to look cool.”

She then walks off to try and pawn them, offering them to anyone willing to pay a “quid”.

As Ginger Spice says, the director really should “know better” at his age – and we love that, at the end of the clip, both she and Mel refuse to shake his hand as they do the rest of the crew. Naturally, he looks more than a little abashed; could it be that he’s finally learned his lesson?

Best of all, it seems as if the Spice Girls’ complaints did not fall on deaf ears; in the final cut of the advert, their cleavage and midriffs remain firmly off show.

Check it out:

Now that’s what we call #girlpower. 

Image: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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