The stunning transformation of Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham has been navigating the spotlight for quite some time now. Fans first met her as Posh Spice, back when girl power skyrocketed her to worldwide fame. I've been a fan of hers from as far back as I can remember: when she was blossoming into a young, 20-something, pop-star sensation, and I was a 7-year-old mimicking her every move, in my garage. Just as the Spice Girls were hitting their peak, she experienced love at first sight — her romance with David Beckham, shooting them both into an unparalleled realm of fame.

When I think of transformations, Beckham's clothing styles over the years obviously come to the top of my mind. I could look back at the matching denim outfits, the head-to-toe leather, and the little Gucci dress — but there's so much more to this fashionable Brit. She went from a girl chasing her dreams to celeb-status almost over night, becoming a mother before she became a wife. After the Spice Girls reign came to an end, she put herself out there solo, and later, carved out a career in fashion — all while supporting her growing family.

She continues to spread girl power all over the world by adding her voice to important causes, running her fashion empire like a total boss babe, and tucking in with the family at night. There are still times where she gets flack for not smiling enough, or appearing uptight, but anyone who watches closely will see she's quite down to earth, with no qualms about kicking off her high heel shoes. Let's take a look at the stunning transformation of Victoria Beckham: a woman who exudes posh, spice, and everything nice.

Before all the fame

Victoria Adams, before we knew her as Posh Spice, was born on April 17, 1974 in Harlow, England. She was raised in a tight-knit, affluent family, as the oldest of three siblings. From a young age she was passionate about dancing, singing and performing for others. She studied ballet when she was younger and continued to pursue her interest in dance at the Laine Arts Theatre College in Surrey at the age of 17, for three years.

I dusted off her first autobiography, Learning to Fly, from my shelf, to see what she had to say about growing up. In it, she wrote, "I was a girl with a dream. It all started when my mum took me and my sister to see Fame, the Alan Parker film about the Manhattan school for performing arts. It was 1982 and I was eight." From then on, all she dreamed about was becoming a star — the hard work of getting there, just beginning.

Throughout her childhood and teen years she struggled with bullying, confidence, and body image issues. In a letter to her 18-year-old self she wrote, "You are not the prettiest, or the thinnest, or the best at dancing at the Laine Theatre Arts college. You have never properly fitted in. You have bad acne. You think the principal has put you at the back of the end-of-year show because you are too plump to go at the front. (Which may or may not be true.)" She continued, recounting how childhood bullying helped her prepare for her rise to fame. "You haven't forgotten being bullied at school, have you? But the thick skin that you developed then is already standing you in good stead, and it will do so for the rest of your life."

The rise of the Spice Girls

In the mid-1990s, boy bands were dominating the music scene. When a successful management team put an advertisement in a trade magazine asking for singers to audition for an all-female pop group, Beckham, who was 20 at the time, beat out 400 hundred girls by auditioning with an odd choice of song. "Everybody sang a pop song," she recalled to. "I sang 'Mein Herr' from Cabaret, which was really, really not the right thing to do, but it got me in the group." In the beginning, they were to be The Spicy Girls, but they quickly realized there was an adult site with the same name. "That wouldn't have been good!" she jests.

As for their nicknames? "Nobody put those images on us," she stressed — except for the shoes. "We all just looked that way. I always dressed that way. Mel B was always wearing the leopard print and Emma was always the baby one wearing the pigtails, and there's those bloody awful shoes." The girls parted ways with the original management team and moved in together — essentially living off welfare, in order to work on their music. They eventually crossed paths with management legend Simon Fuller and the girls enjoyed success around the globe, until Geri left the band. They reunited in 2007 for a world tour that did not disappoint fans.

Falling in love

Beckham was experiencing the height of her fame when she met professional footballer David Beckham. In fact, he was much lesser known than she was, at the time, but the catsuit-clad Spice had caught his attention before they even met. In a 2007 W Magazine feature, David confessed that he saw the video for "Say You'll Be There," while watching TV with his Manchester United teammate Gary Neville, and became smitten, saying, "I turned around to Gary and said, that one there, that's the girl I'm going to marry." When he finally saw her in the flesh in the Manchester United players lounge at a charity match, he was shy at first, admitting, "I sort of said hello and then just went back to Manchester. I was quite upset and gutted." The second time he saw her in the lounge, he didn't let her slip away.

Though it took fame to bring them together, the pair had grown up within 15 minutes of each other in London — both, in working-class households. In the W feature, Beckham described that what attracted her to David, was the fact that "he was always with his mom, dad and sister, while a lot of the footballers were at the bar getting drunk. I could sense right from the start that David was a gentleman, and very family-oriented, which is important because I'm the same." The two were married in an extremely lavish and extravagant ceremony in a castle near Dublin, on July 4, 1999. Fans remain perpetually dazzled by their fairytale romance, often evidenced by sweet sentiments of love for their family and each other.

A brief solo music career

Performing on her own was something Beckham was uneasy about pursuing, at first. She knew she hadn't been the greatest singer in her girl band, but she could still carry a note. In 2000, after the Spice Girls disbanded, Beckham released the True Steppers' single Out Of Your Mind, which also featured Dane Bowers — along with a subsequent series of solo tracks.

She often received criticism for her vocals from the public and just didn't really feel "in her element". Needless to say, she ditched this pursuit to go after her real passion: building her fashion brand.

Surviving tabloid gossip and threats

Beckham and hubby David became known as Posh and Becks, amidst the media storm that followed them around, early on in their relationship. They couldn't go anywhere without being noticed, and were the easy targets of the paparazzi and scandalous tabloids. When they first met they had to meet in car parks and often had to sneak around in their free time just to avoid a tabloid scene. However, the media gave them an easier time of it, compared to some of the Manchester United football fans.

In her autobiography, Learning to Fly, Beckham describes occasions where she was afraid to be alone with Brooklyn while David was away at games, due to multiple kidnap threats and people mailing bullets to her home. "I was terrified," she said, after learning the police had heard from a reliable source that Brooklyn was going to be kidnapped when he was six months old. "It was the Manchester United fans who hated me, everyone knew where [we] had moved to, all they had to do was come and get me."

The journey to health and wellness

Beckham has been very open about her about her challenges with body issues. In her autobiography, she delves into her struggles with her skin and weight growing up — in school, as well as before and after the success of the Spice Girls. People continue to ask her if she even eats at all. She refutes this to Glamour, saying, "I'm a very, very healthy eater. I eat lots of fish, lots of vegetables, lots of fruit. I don't eat junk food. I work out." In most cases she wouldn't respond to her critics but she says, "That's the only time I get upset by things written about me — when people write irresponsible things about my weight…I appreciate that young girls look up to me. And I take that very seriously."

Years later in a letter she offered some wellness advice to her younger self, "Your complexion will sort itself out. You will endure many silly fad diets. Instead, learn to embrace your imperfections — that is what I want to tell you. Let your skin breathe: wear less make-up. And I should probably say, don't mess with your boobs. All those years I denied it — stupid. A sign of insecurity. Just celebrate what you've got."

Making big moves and sacrifices

When her husband got the opportunity to play for Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham moved the family to Spain. "In Spain you will revel in watching him enjoy some of his best footballing days." she recalled, in a letter to her younger self, "But I need to warn you: a lot of your time there will be really hard. I'm not afraid to say now what a horribly difficult time it was. People will say awful things. You will be a laughing stock. Every time you turn on the television, or look at a newspaper, it will seem as though someone is having a go at you and your family. You will learn how mean other women can be. Others would crack under the pressure, but you won't. Use that time to close off, to focus, work hard and protect the children."

She utilized that time wisely by laying down the foundation for her own fashion brand. Through collaboration with others she launched denim, fragrances, and sunglasses under her dVb brand while living in Madrid, Spain.

Coming to America

Beckham and husband David had attained near-global recognition, due to their individual successes alone. But their move to America made an even bigger splash, worldwide. Beckham had dreams to expand the brand, and her family was on board, to realize them.

While David had set out to improve the American opinion of professional soccer, Beckham told W she was determined to change America's opinion of her. "I think people are really going to see me for the first time," she said. "I think they have this impression that I'm this miserable cow who doesn't smile. But I'm actually quite the opposite." In my opinion, she officially won people over with the cheeky one-hour special, Victoria Beckham: Coming to America that aired upon their arrival in 2007.

Raising a talented brood

The Beckhams are a beautiful, talented, and hard-working family. More importantly, above all the fame and success, they are loving, affectionate, talented, and extremely close. Beckham and her husband remain close with their own families, attributing that "tight-knittedness" to informing the style in which they've raised their own children, thus far. Their first son Brooklyn was born in 1999, and is now cultivating a passion for photography and modeling. Her second son Romeo, born in 2002, has modeled for Burberry and ran a mini marathon for UNAIDS. Her youngest son Cruz, born in 2005, has already taken after his mother, releasing a holiday single with the help of Scooter Braun. Their little girl Harper completed the family when she was born in 2011.

Beckham told Vogue that the children are never spoiled with anything other than love, and that they're always cuddling and communicating constantly. Despite their busy lives, the working parents always make their children a priority, rarely missing a parents' night or a sporting event. "I'm lucky that David is such a hands-on dad," Beckham said, in a Q&A at Saks Fifth Avenue (via InStyle), "He's so great, and we have so much respect for each other. When I'm traveling, he's at home. And when he's traveling, I'm at home. We work really well together and we're very present in the children's lives."

Building her fashion empire

As long as she's been in the spotlight, Beckham's been known for her sense of style. Her hairstyle and duds have drastically over the years, but fashion has always been her passion. "It's what I've always wanted to do," she confessed, in an intimate Q&A at Saks Fifth Avenue. "There was a little detour because I was in a pop group, but it was the fashion that excited me. I felt like I had a point of view. And I love women and I want to make women feel the best version of themselves. I always say it started with girl power, and now, it's about empowering women through fashion in a different way."

By putting her head down, working hard, surrounding herself with the right people, and staying focused, she created quite the successful brand. Since launching in 2008, her label has developed stellar reviews for bold style and fine craftsmanship. Victoria Beckham brand apparel and accessories are stocked in over 60 countries internationally, and are consistently popping up all over the red carpet. She opened a flagship store in London and recently partnered with Estée Lauder to create a cosmetic collection, including a new lipstick shade called, of course, Nude Spice.

Speaking out for others

In 2014 Beckham was named a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for children and women who are born with, living with, or have been affected by HIV — to have access to life-saving medicine and care. "This is the beginning of an important journey for me," she said, at a special event for the cause. "As a woman, and a mother, I have a responsibility to support other women. I am proud and honored to be working with UNAIDS in this new role to help to raise resources and awareness, to support and empower women and children affected by HIV."

In recent years she visited Kenya and brought teenage son, Brooklyn along for the UNAIDS charity mission.

Living girl power to the max

Beckham is certain she'll be working just as hard in 10 years' time. "My mum can't understand why I'm working this hard now, to be honest," she told The Guardian. When it comes to a hard-earned hustle, Beckham's pretty much got it in her blood.

"The thing is," she said in the interview, "I've always worked. The Spice Girls had a crazy schedule. I can't imagine what I'd do all day if I didn't work. I'm lucky that I do something I love, and I am proud as I think it's a positive message to give to young women: if you want to have a career, and be married with children, then you can. It's full-on, but it's doable." Rip a page out of the Victoria Beckham playbook — and, ladies, spice up your life!

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