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victoria beckham short hair CB brit awards spice girls

Does My Ongoing Love for Short Hair Stem from VB’s 90s Cut?

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Welcome to Blasts From My Beauty Past, our monthly column written by journalist, and Live That Glow Beauty Editor, Philippa PearneFor the last 17 years, Philippa has written about her own beauty wins, fails and everything in between. In her monthly column, she looks back at the influence of 90s band The Spice Girls.

Does anyone else remember watching The Brit Awards in 1998? I know, I know. You’re thinking, “How on earth am I supposed to remember that far back?” But what if I told you The Spice Girls performed live on stage that year? Would you remember it then?

No, not the year Geri wore her infamous Union Jack dress – that was 1997 (although let’s not forget just how iconic that performance was). I’m talking about the following year when The Spice Girls arrived on stage in a Mini, initially donned in trench coats. By this point, I was an obsessed fan, and they were probably millions of pounds richer than the year before.

The reason I remember it so vividly is because of Victoria. Usually a hardcore Baby Spice fan, I had warmed the least to Posh. Mainly because it annoyed me that she wasn’t even that posh and I always found her to be a bit dull because she always wore black. What can I say? These tiny details matter when you’re an impressionable almost 15-year-old.

Nevertheless, I watched the 1998 Brits with bated breath. The Spice Girls were about to come on and if it was anything like last year, this would be epic. The announcement finally came. “Would you please welcome, Emma, Victoria, Geri, Melanie C and Mel B – The Spice Girls,” said Ben Elton.

 

victoria beckham short hair CB brit awards spice girls

1998 Brit Awards. Image – @spicegirlsnostalgia/instagram

 

[Side note: I’m not ashamed to say that I didn’t even need to YouTube the order their names were read out in, I’ve watched it so many times. And yet I still can’t remember where I put the dog’s lead this morning…]

On they came to rapturous applause, along with the introduction to ‘Stop’, their then-new song which I had already learnt all the dance moves to (obvs).

As always, I studied the fab five, one by one, top to bottom. They’d put a black and white filter on the screen for the people watching at home (pretty advanced for 1998…!) as the song is Motown-style. This meant I couldn’t quite make Victoria out as she was at the back of the Mini and our 90s TV screen was so small.  But as soon as the camera zoomed in, I gasped. Victoria had gone for the chop.

Now, I realise this might seem trivial. These days, we get to follow our favourite celebrities on Instagram/TikTok and are able to see what they’re doing day-to-day. A brand-new haircut is usually casually spotted in someone’s story or at best, a grid post. That old chestnut of the before shot, hand in front of the camera, after shot. No biggie, just a standard Tuesday.

But back in 1998, there was very little ‘breaking news’ to feed off. All we could rely on were pre-recorded TV interviews, blink-and-you-miss-them live TV shows, delayed magazine articles or blurred pap shots in tomorrow’s newspapers. And, if you were really fangirling, finding out where your favourite celebrity was going to be hanging out and waiting for hours in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of them.

 

victoria beckham short hair CB brit awards spice girls

Image – Spice Girls Net/Facebook

 

As I watched their performance, mouth wide open, it was sinking in that VB’s style had gone from her signature shoulder-length bob (seen in ‘those’ engagement photos a month before) to an amazing long-at-the-front pixie style. No warning, no explanation, no Instagram BTS shot. Just a brand-new haircut on one of the most famous heads in the world.

This was BIG. NEWS. Victoria Beckham (then Adams) chopping off her hair in 1998 was the equivalent of Taylor Swift doing it now. Imagine the commotion! Only with Taylor, we would probably see it on social media as it was happening because it’s 2024 and nothing’s sacred.

That 1998 realisation, followed by my teen hysteria – ‘VICTORIA’S HAD HER HAIR CUT!!!!!’ – hit me like a train. I needed to tell my equally obsessed older sister immediately but she was at a party and now she would have to wait until the next day to see it in the morning papers. I couldn’t even take a picture of the TV screen with my phone to send her a preview because my phone didn’t exist yet! You can only imagine the inconvenience.

Don’t get me wrong, I know people get their hair cut every single day. But this felt different. This was a Spice Girl. I took note of The Spice Girls’ every move, every outfit, every pair of platform shoes. And they each had their roles, their nicknames, their styles.

The fact that Victoria had gone off-piste and had the ‘audacity’ to change her signature style, that I somehow felt I owned a piece of, was both wild and inspirational to me.

I was blown away by her confidence and admired the sheer boldness of it. She wanted to get her hair chopped off and damn it, she went ahead and did it.  She even had the balls to broadcast it for the first time live on national TV. And in those three-ish minutes, she went from being my least favourite Spice Girl to hair icon.

You can probably guess what happened next. Off I went to Toni and Guy in search of VB’s new ‘do for my own head. Out I walked, armed with shorter hair and the confirmation that no, I definitely don’t have Victoria’s bone structure.

But I made it work using headbands and clips and funnily enough, managed to bag myself my first-ever boyfriend a few months later. It was a summer romance that didn’t last. But maybe – just maybe – I was his version of Victoria.

 

victoria beckham short hair CB brit awards spice girls

Image – @spicegirls/instagram

 

The Spice Girls represented confidence, embracing your individuality and girl power. I didn’t really understand what all of that meant until that haircut moment. Because I certainly didn’t expect straightlaced, always-in-an-LBD Victoria to break out of what I can assume was her comfort zone and go for a really dramatic change like that. But then again, perhaps I should have expected it given everything The Spice Girls stood for.

I love that it immediately gave me the confidence to go and get my own hair chopped off. I had never had such short hair in my life and whilst it really didn’t do my adolescent looks any favours, at least I gave it a go. Looking back, I realise this was actually incredibly brave, particularly since I was at such a vulnerable age and went to school with girls who I thought were much prettier than me.

I dabbled with lots of hairstyles throughout my teens. Of course, I took inspiration from Victoria for a while but also longer-haired icons too, like Jennifer Aniston, SJP and Reese Witherspoon.

But what about now, aged 41? Whilst a large portion of women my age understandably like to maintain long locks, I settled on short hair years ago. I’m 100% team short. Always. I just love a short ‘do.

I wonder if this reluctance to conform is subconsciously down to that oh-so-inspiring VB moment from 1998. Because if it is, then it’s safe to say girl power absolutely lives on.

 

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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University
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