When I was in fourth grade, the best way to know how close you were with your friends wasn’t how many friendship bracelets you’d exchanged. It wasn’t the number of sleepovers you’d stayed up during or whether you could recite each other’s birthdays and favorite colors.
Instead, the true indication of “friendship” was whether you and your friends had formed your own version of the Spice Girls. Only the best of friends could come to an agreement about who in your group could attempt to fill the platform shoes of our Spice Girl idols.
My friends and I were known as the Jr. Spice Girls – “Jr.” because we weren’t trying to steal the thunder away from the true goddesses, obviously. I was Scary Spice, AKA Mel B., (shout out to all the other brown girls who had to be Scary!), while the rest of my best friends rounded out the group as Sporty (Mel C.), Baby (Emma), Ginger (Geri), and Posh (Victoria).
And we knew what being a good friend was all about. If Melanie and Melanie could have the same name and not tear each other’s hair out, then we could make it through a challenging recess, you know? Plus, we’d seen “Spice World” 1,000 times, which taught us all we ever needed to know about friendship. Like…
It’s okay to poke fun at one another every once in a while. In fact, it’s probably good for you. Following a drab photoshoot, the Spice Girls took it upon themselves to dress up in fun costumes. Some of those costumes included dressing up and acting like each other. Geri wore sports attire, Victoria donned pigtails, while Mel B. dressed up like Geri – blond wig, pleather outfit and a message: “Blah blah blah, girl power… feminism, d’you know what I mean?” It was playful and cheeky and meant to show true friends are able to handle a bit of teasing.
Respect each friend’s troubles… Some could argue that Victoria’s persistent dilemma about what to wear is trivial. But not me (it’s hard being a fashionista!), and certainly not her friends. Mel C. articulated it perfectly, and demonstrated immense support and understanding, when she said, “It must be really hard for you, Victoria. You know, trying to decide whether to wear the little Gucci dress, the little Gucci dress, or the little Gucci dress.” How nice was it that Mel C. let Victoria know she was being heard?
… And offer advice when asked. Victoria’s dire situation of choosing an outfit was one that needed a solution. Ever the problem solver, Emma chimed in and encouraged Victoria to try the little Gucci dress. That was exactly the advice Victoria needed, when she needed it. Good friends are able to sense when a friend needs advice, and when they just need someone to listen. (Another good lesson: pillow fights solve everything.)
It’s good to have at least one friend outside of your group of friends. Healthy, even. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all! You can’t spend all of your time together, as great as that may seem. That’s why all five girls made sure to have a friend outside the group: the adorably-pregnant Nicola. Sidenote: it’s totally fine if that one friend outside of the group is also friends with everyone in the group. If one of you is drawn to a new friend, why wouldn’t everyone like her?
Never ask a friend to change who she is. Each Spice Girl is set in her ways, style-wise, and behavior-wise. Emma, who always wears pigtails and sucks on lollipops, would never ask Mel C. to put on a babydoll dress, just like Mel C., who can usually be found in super comfortable Adidas swooshy pants, wouldn’t try to take Emma to Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase a new wardrobe. Similarly, when the girls are in boot camp to prepare for their upcoming concert, they’re expected to change into army uniforms. But they also respect Victoria’s desire to wear a camouflage dress. And heels. And her refusal to participate in the athletic course. Good friends are understanding and supportive of each other’s ways – even if that way isn’t right for you.
True friendships can survive anything. That includes everything from being thrown off a boat into the ice-cold water and having to swim to shore…
…almost delivering a baby…
…and encountering aliens.
Truthfully, the Spice Girls knew everything about what embodied true friendship. There’s a reason why, nearly 20 years after they got together in the first place, they’re still friends. They even managed to survive a “break-up” when Geri left the group. Let’s face it: it’s a Spice World, y’all. We’re just living in it.
(If you liked this, check out All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Clueless.)