Cover Photo: Photograph by Kura.kun/Wikimedia Commons; photo illustration by Matt Ortile
Photograph by Kura.kun/Wikimedia Commons; photo illustration by Matt Ortile

Spice Girls and the Rise and Fall of Girl Power

Girl power was the freedom to make a scene, make no sense, join together and make something irresistible, spectacular, unproductive, joyful, and to radically claim one another.


Tell me what you want / What you really, really want. / I’ll tell you what I want / What I really, really want.Spice

Boxcar Children

would come and go, girl-friendship was forever.

Julie Ruin

Tiger BeatBop Teen

Photo courtesy of Adrian Shirk

knowngirl power


This is not what I was banking on. This was not supposed to be the yield of the revolution.


The Oregonian

Spice World: The Movie

Hard Days Nightwere

Nothing is forever!”

Photo courtesy of Adrian Shirk

Spice World

I’m giving you everything / all that joy can bring / this I swear. Barbarella

You take an inch /I run a mile Can’t win, you’re always right behind me.

Spice World: The Moviethat’s


The Guardian

Unhappy with the direction their manager was pushing them, they eluded signing a contract and instead banded together and stole the master recordings—literally, by breaking and entering in the dead of night.

In 1996, at the height of their fame, the Girls visited South Africa with the Royal Family. In Johannesburg, they posed for press pictures with Nelson Mandela. Dozens of different shots emerge on a cursory image search: them and Mandela, yukking it up, and in each one he is grinning, laughing, with a little kid’s glee. That day he is quoted, by the BBC, as saying about the Girls, “These are my heroes!”

Adrian Shirk is the author of And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy, a hybrid-memoir exploring the lives of American women prophets and mystics, named an NPR ‘Best Book’ of 2017. She's currently working on a manuscript about utopian communities. Shirk was raised in Portland, Oregon, and has since lived in New York and Wyoming. She's a frequent contributor to Catapult, and her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, among others. Currently, she teaches in Pratt Institute’s BFA Creative Writing Program, and lives on the border of the Bronx and Yonkers with her husband Sweeney and Quentin the cat.