I know you are struggling right now. 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, although you are sharing your Surrey school digs with really nice girls. You have bad acne. You think the principal has put you at the back of the end-of-year show (in a humiliatingly bright purple Lycra leotard) because you are too plump to go at the front. (This may or may not be true.)
There is a red telephone box outside the school and you have just rung your parents, crying, “I can’t do this, I miss home, I’m not good enough.” And Mum has told you to come home. “We’ll go to Lakeside and buy a new pair of shoes,” she said. It’s tempting. But then Dad got on the phone: “Stay there, prove everyone wrong.” If you’d listened to Mum, you would be going to Lakeside. (Shoes are important, just not right now.) It would be the
easy solution. And I’m writing to jolly you along, to offer consolation and encouragement, and to tell you, aged 18, to be strong.
You haven’t forgotten being bullied at school, have you? Do you recall that first day at secondary school? Most children were wearing their own coats and had the latest cool bag, but not you. Kitted out in the full St Mary’s High School uniform, you stood in the freezing playground while other teenagers walking past threw soggy tissues and old Coke cans that they plucked from the puddles. 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.
Your complexion will sort itself out (in fact you will launch your own make-up brand); as soon as the Eighties are over, your perm will die down, and your weight will settle itself. At school you eat Super Noodles and boxes of Frosties because they say they are fat free, and you will endure many other silly fad diets (including an addiction to green juices). Instead, learn to embrace your imperfections – that is what I want to tell you. Let your skin breathe; wear less make-up. (And don’t ever let that make-up artist shave your eyebrows! The effects last forever.) You will always be addicted to Elnett hairspray but you will tone it down. Less of the “Hello! I just got stuck in a wind tunnel”, please. 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.
Do answer an ad in The Stage, looking for candidates to form a new girl band. Line up around the block and audition to change your life. You love musicals – Miss Saigon, Cats, Starlight Express and Les Misérables – so you will perform “Mein Herr” from Cabaret, while everyone else sings a Madonna song. You haven’t yet heard of the internet or electronic mail or smartphones. Nor have you perfected the art of the selfie for Instagram (you can’t even turn on a computer right now, and Dad still drives to London to send a telex). But one day you will find that audition performance again online, and at the same time discover that your name brings up 47,800,000 search results on Google.
The judges of the competition will match you to four other girls, all misfits in their own ways. Together you will make it OK to look different. And, as the Spice Girls, you will sell 75 million records. You cannot possibly imagine your future life right now. You will travel on private planes, visit incredible countries, stay in fantastic hotels. (At the beginning, you will steal the hotel mini shampoos, shower gels and conditioners, but you soon realise that they leak in your suitcase – often disastrously.) You will storm into people’s offices, leap on to tables in hotels and go crazy (although you will also be the one checking that the table isn’t going to collapse). You will meet Nelson Mandela, Mariah Carey and Elton John. But please, I implore you, keep a diary. There will be so many amazing moments, and you will forget.
There will also be down days and bad days. You will often be so busy that you will be in a different country every day. And being young and a bit silly, you’ll complain and sit in hotel rooms and moan about being tired. Go out and see the country where you are. Go to galleries, go to museums. Soak up the culture. You are lucky to be there. If you don’t join the Spice Girls, you might always be that insecure person in that little shell, and you will never become who you truly are. With this in mind, be kind, be polite, be considerate of others’ feelings, because I know that every one of us would sit here now and say they’re not the main culprit, but we didn’t fully appreciate each other a lot of the time. So practise what you preach when you sing “friendship never ends”, and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.
Images and Letter penned by Victoria Beckham, Taken from Vogue UK.com