We millennials grew up in an amazing time. We had all these awesome musicians to look up to, before MTV got taken over by pregnant teenagers and weird dating drama.
Back in the good old days, we had pop starlets and boy bands and, of course, the quintessential girl power group: The Spice Girls.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I wanted everything to do with all things Spice Girls, and if I’m being entirely honest, I’d probably still jump at the chance to go to a reunion concert. (Are they still doing those? Anybody know?)
Of all the gorgeous women in the quintet, Sporty Spice (Mel C) was undeniably my favorite. I had the licensed Barbie doll with the white satin suit, and (of course) she would always seduce my other Barbies.
I didn’t even fully understand it at the time, but in a weird sort of way, I think she always was the queer icon I needed. Let’s look at the facts.
She was gorgeous, without relying on fashion trends.
Mel C was always incredibly attractive, whether she was wearing that iconic white satin suit, or dressed down in sweat pants and a sports bra. (Ah, how I love that aesthetic.) She taught me that I didn’t have to wear what everyone else was wearing – as long as I knew how attractive I really was. (And, I think she was more than a little bit of the reason I got my nose pierced, too.)
She helped teach me about “girl power”.
Okay, so this wasn’t just her, but the entire Spice Girls team (including the members behind the scenes), but for some reason, when they’re coming from someone who embodied my own tomboyish style, the information was a little easier to take. Sporty Spice helped teach me that I didn’t have to be “girly” to be glad that I was a girl. She taught me that it’s okay to wear pants, even if everyone else is wearing dresses. It’s all good.
She spoke out about mental health.
To be fair, it was the actual Melanie Chisholm who spoke out about mental health, not “Sporty Spice” (who I’m sure I don’t have to tell you was just a character). But when Melanie chose to speak up about her depression, her eating disorder, and the other mental health issues she’d been facing, it showed me that it really is OK if you need help sometimes. She taught me that it’s okay to not be okay, and that’s super important to remember, even to this day.
She taught me that you could have more than one style.
Sometimes, Mel C was dressed in fancy clothes and impeccable makeup. Other times, she rocked the natural look and baggy clothing. As someone whose style fluctuates from super feminine to super masculine (and often falls somewhere in between), it was so good to see someone who didn’t mind mixing things up. She inspired me to wear what I felt comfortable in that day, and not to worry too much about what I usually wore.
She taught me that it’s okay to keep people guessing.
Despite any of the queer stereotypes that could be imposed on Sporty Spice, Mel C has only publicly been in relationships with men. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t bi (this year has seen a lot of bisexual celebrities coming out, and I think it’s fantastic), but it’s more important that she taught us that the way you look, act, or talk doesn’t have anything to do with your sexuality unless you say it does.