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Dear Spice Girls, Thank You For Teaching A Little Boy About Girl Power

Music
Photo courtesy of Virgin Records; Illustrated by Natalia Spotts

An open letter to the best-selling female group of all time on the 20th anniversary of ‘Spiceworld’

Dear Spice Girls,

Or should I say, "Dear the Spice Girls"? IDK! Anyway, today marks the 20th anniversary of Spiceworld's U.S. release. Not many albums are worth reflecting on two decades in, but Spiceworld and your movie, Spice World (which turns 20 this December), are special. Not just to me, of course—you're the best-selling female group of all time—but, for now, we're going to focus on me.

All five of you were my queens. (Still are, honestly.) As a fey six-year-old living in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York, your message of girl power spoke to me. I felt it. I wasn't versed in identity politics at that age, but I knew I wasn't like all the other boys who were daydreaming of dating you. I wanted to be you. I wanted to wear platforms, have pigtails, and dye my hair a fiery orange. I threw up the peace sign in every photo I could. It wasn't peace to me, it was girl power, and that was the safest way for me to express it. I vibed with your feminine energy because I had that energy, too. I wanted your freedom even if I couldn't properly vocalize that longing.

If your debut album, Spice, introduced me to your universe, Spiceworld was my admission ticket inside. Songs like "Saturday Night Divas" and "Spice Up Your Life" were vehicles for me to escape into a world of fierce independence, a place where I felt like I was a part of something and would be accepted. I would listen to "Do It" and imagine you were all right there, in my room, personally telling me "to free what's in your soul" because "the rules are for breaking." With "Stop," you gave me the power to tell future fuckbois to quit their shit, because any partner who asks me to catch up to them isn't worth my time. (Can't say I've heeded that lesson to a T, but hey, that's why y'all followed "Stop" with "Too Much," so I could better make sense of infatuation.) 

Above all, though, Spiceworld inspired my lifelong love for dance. Perhaps not in the professional sense, but in dancing's ability to shake off stress. Did I nearly ruin my Spice World VHS rewinding and replaying the movie's finale, memorizing the "Spice Up Your Life" choreography? I did. I spent hours dancing to "Never Give Up On The Good Times" and the lot in my room, in the mirror, and in my head when I was in public. Dancing is a form of community building because it asks you to let your guard down and let go a little. Even when I was dancing alone, I learned to make myself vulnerable to Spiceworld. My energy vibrated with yours, on what felt like a spiritual level. Listening to the album today elicits the same feeling; 20 years later, and you're still speaking to my femme identity. I may now be able to wear my platforms freely and outwardly express that feminine energy, but I cannot forget where it all started: Spiceworld. It's not just an album to me, it's a lifestyle. 

Thank you.

Chicas to the front,

Hayden