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20 life lessons we learned from the Spice Girls

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As the Spice Girls celebrate 20 years of Wannabe, we take a look back at the important life lessons we learned from them... 

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Don't be afraid to dream big

Five normal girls from the UK went on to conquer the world - and are still one of the biggest selling bands ever, with more than 80million records shipped worldwide. 

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Anything a man can do, women can do just as well (and sometimes better!)

Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh and Ginger came along during a time when the world was dominated by men. But they encouraged young girls everywhere to follow their dreams and to not settle for anything less than the best.  

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Do it your way

The Spice Girls didn't play by the rules, they saw what they wanted and took it. Speaking in 2014, Mel B explained: "I don't think we could've done it if anybody was telling us how to do things."

After initially auditioning for girl band Touch, Mel, Victoria Beckham, Geri Horner, Emma Bunton and Melanie C realised Chris and Bob Herbert wanted to control their every move and turn them into a manufactured slinky R&B group.

So they stole the recordings they'd made and set up auditions with all the major players in the music industry. Sure, they were turned down by Simon Cowell but they eventually signed with Simon Fuller's management company. And the rest is history. 

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Don't be afraid to say "no"

An especially important message to young people, the girls stressed the meaning of consent and taught us that no means no.

"What part of no don't you understand? I want a man, not a boy who thinks he can," They crooned on single Too Much

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Don't take boys too seriously

We've all had our hearts broken, but the Spice Girls taught us not to pin all of our hopes on one boy and to enter any new relationship with our eyes wide open.

On anthem Stop, Baby, Scary, Sporty, Ginger and Posh said: "Caught in a craze, it's just a phase. Or will this be around forever?"

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Play people at their own games

If someone wants to make things up about you, laugh it off and start a rumour right back at them. As the pop queens of the 90s, the Spice Girls were often asked to share their wisdom with readers of teen pop magazine for the problem pages.

One in particular is a complete gem. "There's this boy at school who's telling everyone he's had sex with me. How can I stop his lies? Slandered, Newquay." "Mel B: Confront him about it in front of his friends. That should embarrass him into confessing that he's been lying."

"Victoria: Beat him at his own game by going round the school saying what a bad sh*g he was." 

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Don't take your relationship with your mum for granted

Growing up, it was easy to think that mum's sole job was to suck the fun out of everything by enforcing boring rules. But the Spice Girls taught us that you'll never have a relationship, romantic or otherwise, as important as the one you have with your mum.

In their hit single Mama, Mel B sang: "I didn't want to hear it then but I'm not afraid to say it now: everything little thing you said and did was right for me."

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In life friends grow apart but you should never forget the good times you had together

Geri broke the hearts of millions in 1998 when she announced she'd left the group. What followed was seemingly endless rumours of bitter infighting, jealousy and the beginning of the end for the world's biggest girl band.

But months later, the four remaining girls released single Goodbye, which revealed exactly how they felt about Geri's exit. "Goodbye my friend… So glad we made it, time will never change it." 

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Just like friends, lovers sometimes outgrow each other – and that's okay, too

In Viva Forever, their last single with Geri, the girls sang about a relationship that had ended, and told us it was okay to mourn our exes and remember the good times.

"Slipping through our fingers, like the sands of time, promises made, every memory saved, as reflections in my mind." 

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Completely love the skin you're in

Along with girl power and feminism, the Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh championed body positivity and being comfortable in your own body.

In Do It, a track from second album Spiceworld, they insisted: "Who cares what care they say? Because the rules are for breaking… Come on and do it, don't care how you look it's just how you feel."

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Your body is amazing

It's hard to believe but even these days women are often told they need to cover up in order to be taken more seriously. But Emma, Mel B, Victoria, Geri and Melanie C weren't having any of that – they insisted the naked body is something to be celebrated, not sexualised.

One powerful line from debut album Spice was: "Don't be afraid to stare, she is only naked."

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As humans, we'll probably always find a flaw in our situation

"Too much of something is bad enough, but something's coming over me to make me wonder if too much of nothing is just as tough." See what we mean?

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Everyone has a past, but it's all about who you are now

We've all made mistakes but it's important not to dwell on those. Singing on Wannabe, Mel B insisted that any person coming into her life could not judge her on the past.

She recited: "If you want my future, forget my past." And, just for good measure, Emma added that she wouldn't be waiting around. "If you wanna get with me, better make it fast." 

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Always wear what you want

They were known for their controversial comments, but the Spice Girls really stood for the importance of feminism. Baby Spice Emma Bunton was once quoted as saying: "Just because you've got a short skirt on and a pair of t*ts, you can still say what you want to say. We're still very strong."

Emma and the girls were also famous for their absolute refusal to follow fashion trends, instead dressing in clothes that reflected their individual personalities. 

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But also be independent

They weren't just a group, they were five very different personalities who each brought something different to the table. Geri always said what everybody else was too afraid to say, Mel B was the first to bring someone back down to earth, Victoria had a dry sense of humour and an amazing ability to mock herself, Emma was innocent and sometimes a bit naïve and Melanie C had the voice of reason.  

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Never put a man before your friends

Aside from girl power, the Spice Girls' strongest message was that "friendship never ends". In their first single they sang: "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends." In other words, if you potential love interest doesn't like your friends then he/she probably isn't worth it. 

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And, as long as you've got good friends around you, you can do anything

There were doubts about the band's survival rate before Wannabe. Afterwards, they were billed by many in the industry as a one-hit wonder. But, ambition, drive and the support of their best friends pushed the girls do achieve things most groups only ever dream of. 

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People will always judge you at face value, and that's okay

To many on the outside, the Spice Girls were five ditzy industry puppets. But in 1997, when they started to feel like they weren't in control of their own lives, they fired their management, planned and executed a world tour on their own.

The lesson here: Don't worry about what people think of you, worry about proving them wrong. 

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Kiss who you want but always be safe

When it came to the Spice Girls' music, they were very open about their sexuality. Instead of the shaming we see and hear so much of these days, the girls were all about embracing our freedom to date as many people as we like. But they had a rule. 

As Emma crooned in their second number one single 2 Become 1: "Be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on. 'Cause tonight is the night when two become one."

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If you're not happy with your life, change it

After three hit albums, 80 million records sold and a box office smash film which grossed over $100million worldwide, the Spice Girls did the unthinkable and walked away from it all. At the height of their fame in 2000, Mel B, Victoria, Emma and Melanie C announced the band was splitting for good.

Critics said their careers were over and that everybody would soon forget about the girls who changed the world – but we all know how that one turned out…