The Story Behind The Spice Girls' Iconic Nicknames Revealed

If you're a millennial, you likely grew up obsessing over the Spice Girls. During the '90s, the iconic group swept the world with tweens everywhere embracing their message of "Girl Power." Hits like "Wannabe" catapulted them into global pop-culture phenomenon status, as reported by the BBC. The famous song has female empowerment lyrics like, "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends / Make it last forever, friendship never ends." Most of us can't even read those lyrics without singing them in our heads. The Spice Girls also made history selling a staggering 85 million records worldwide, making them the best-selling girl group of all time, according to Billboard


The group consisted of Victoria Beckham, or "Posh Spice"; Melanie Brown, or "Scary Spice"; Emma Bunton, or "Baby Spice"; Geri Horner, or "Ginger Spice"; and Melanie Chisholm, or "Sporty Spice"; per BBC. Girls everywhere argued over which one of their friends could portray each Spice Girl. But do you know how the Spice Girls got their famous nicknames? The story just might surprise you.

The unusual source who gave the Spice Girls their famous nicknames

The Spice Girls were originally named Touch, according to The Guardian. This led the group to feel bland and they wanted to change that. "We felt like we had to fit into a mould," Mel C told The Guardian. "And then we realized that we were quite different personalities, different to each other and to all the female groups in the past. We also realized there was a lot of strength in that."


Marie Claire reports the group ultimately decided to change their name after the ladies switched management. The nicknames came soon after that from an unexpected source: a journalist who interviewed the women. As Mel B explained on the Rachael Ray Show in 2017, "It was a lazy journalist that couldn't remember our names, and said, 'That one's sporty, that one's posh, and that one's definitely scary because she's really loud' ... And then it just stuck, and we were like, 'Well, we don't mind that!'"

Victoria Beckham was the first Spice Girl to get a name

Some of the most iconic moments in pop culture happen organically, and the Spice Girls' iconic nicknames was just that. In fact, when they sat down to hone in on the great idea from the journalist, the names happened pretty effortlessly. While you might think that "Ginger Spice" or "Baby Spice" were the easier names to come up with, it turns out that Victoria Beckham's nickname was the first one to roll off the tongue.


"Posh was the first one to be thought up because Victoria looks pretty sophisticated. The rest were pretty easy really because the girls' characters were already really strong," Peter Loraine, the editor of the publication that created the nicknames, told Bustle. "The names jumped out at us."

It's definitely fitting that Beckham's was the first because it actually still sticks. Today, the 47-year-old owns her own fashion line and designs the most iconic little black dresses, which were her uniform while in the band. She's Posh Spice through and through.

There have been conflicting claims about the nicknames over the years

For those of you who still aren't catching on, the seemingly haphazard nicknames of the Spice Girls were actually extremely spot on. Each girl fell into their on-stage character effortlessly, from the outfits they wore to their personalities. Of all the nicknames from the Spice Girls, "Sporty Spice" just made the most sense. Odds are just about every time you saw Melanie "Mel C" Chisholm dancing on stage or strutting the red carpet, she was wearing a tracksuit.


In 2013, Bustle provided more detail into the origin stories of the various nicknames, writing that "Sporty Spice" actually came from Mel C's love of "The Great Gatsby." The outlet noted that the singer apparently would walk around calling people "Old Sport," like the Jay Gatsby character does in the F. Scott Fitzgerald book. However, the whole thing was a farce; although readers may have fallen for the stories, the claims were all made up as part of an apparent joke. 

As hard as people have tried over the years to assign more meaning to the nicknames, the real story is just not as colorful. In all honesty, we have a forgetful journalist to thank for the now-iconic nicknames we all know and love. Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction!


Do the Spice Girls even like their nicknames?

Once you know the true story about the Spice Girls — that is, that they didn't choose their nicknames themselves — you may wonder whether they even like their monikers. While on The Babble podcast, Mel C provided an answer.


After explaining how the nicknames came about, she told the hosts, "We kind of embraced them and in the States that's how people know us, they don't even know our real names. ...It was really it was a fun thing, we loved it because I think we really became caricatures of our actual selves and out and those nicknames help that."

Apparently, Mel B is in agreement. Back in 2015, she revealed to HuffPost that despite what people may think, her nickname has never felt like a negative or offensive thing. "I'm very kind of in-your-face," she said. "I was even more so back then. I was, what, 17, 18, like, 'What! What do you want?!' So I guess I could have come off as Scary. But I like my name."

We don't know about you, but we'll be living in these little nostalgic pockets of fun facts until the Spice Girls decide to have a comeback again.