The Real Story Behind How the Spice Girls Got Their Nicknames

I wasn’t allowed to listen to the Spice Girls in 1996. Or 1997, 1998, or any of the years when they were at their peak popularity.

My mother willfully tuned out their overt messages of girl power, and refused to see these five women as anything other than sluts who’d set a bad example for her young, impressionable child.

All of which may help to explain why I’ve made it 26 years without knowing the true story behind how the Spice Girls got their nicknames.

Today, in a personal essay posted on Marie Claire, OG Spice Girl Geri Halliwell wistfully recounted the band’s early days, buying vintage Mary Quant platform boots in Notting Hill and living together in a small three-bedroom house just outside of London.

Geri was 22 at the time, Emma was 18, and the three other girls fell somewhere in between.

It wasn’t until after they released the video for their first song “Wannabe” that the idea of giving the Spice Girls nicknames ever occurred to anybody, and surprisingly, the nicknames were neither their idea nor their label’s.

Instead their nicknames came from a teen pop magazine.

As Gerri explains:

“We released the single, shot our first music video, and finished our album. Then we got our Spice nicknames: Top of the Pops, a teen pop magazine, playfully labeled us “Scary,” “Baby,” “Sporty,” “Posh” and “Ginger,” based on our appearances. I got “Ginger” because of the color of my hair. At first I thought, OK, being ginger can be made fun of, but it felt a little more glamorous when I got to the States, and I thought, Hey, cool…Ginger like Ginger Rogers!”

Reading Ginger’s entire essay, which I highly recommend, it only reinforced what I already knew about my mother’s decision to choose who I should or shouldn’t be listening to.

She never really understood what she was talking about.

What my mother failed to ascertain from her brief exposure to the Spice Girls on television was that even though they wore tight mini dresses that made their breasts look phenomenal, they were never really a sexy band, just women who happened to be sexy.

While on the other hand, Christina Aguilera, who my mother had zero problems with, was significantly more sexual, and sexually explicit than the Spice Girls ever were.

Case in point, the lyrics from her first single: “If you wanna be with me / baby there’s a price to pay / I’m a genie in a bottle / you gotta rub me the right way.”

If that’s not a song about a young woman standing up for the importance of foreplay, I don’t know what is.

While I can’t go back in time and try to turn my mother into a woke woman, I wish she understood being confident with your body doesn’t make you a slut.

But hey, at least my lingering curiosity about the Spice Girls led me to learn a new fact and share it with you all. Happy Tuesday from Sheltered Spice!

[H/T Marie Claire]

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