Courtney Leiva
July 31, 2019 3:01 pm
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Courtney Leiva, HelloGiggles

Like any millennial, I could go on forever about my love for the Spice Girls. Not only were they the first pop group I obsessed over, but they also taught me life-long lessons, like the importance of girl power and putting friendship first.

While everyone had their favorite song and album (mine is Spice, if you must know), fans also typically had their own personal favorite member of the group. Mine, without a doubt, was Baby Spice. Emma Bunton’s girly take on ‘90s fashion is what first drew me in. Her perfect pigtails, sky-high platform shoes, and cute mini-backpacks were a total fashion dream for 9-year-old me. But sense of style and vocal chops aside, I also loved Baby Spice for the advice she dispensed in the tiny book Baby Spice: In My Pocket.

Yes, she introduced me to important life hacks like valuing your relationship with your mom and eating your doughnuts with pride. But she also shared wise words to live by: “Don’t change for anybody, just be who you ‘wannabe.’”

Being able to look to such fearless role models like Baby, Scary, Sporty, Posh, and Ginger made my childhood a time of power. It made me proud of who I was.

Fast forward 20-something years later, and I am looking to inject that carefree innocence and personal sense of power back into my life. I am turning 30 next month, and I can’t say I am entirely thrilled about it.

Tim Roney, Getty Images

Growing older is obviously part of life. But I’ve dealt with lifelong anxiety surrounding death, so I admit to having irrational panic over the general concept of aging.

Irrational, intrusive thoughts are my middle name, and being diagnosed with OCD at this year has made me realize that I often panic over things I can’t control. Aging is practically inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I feel ready to enter my third decade on this planet. Perhaps this relates to my own extremely sheltered naiveté (I’m definitely a late bloomer) because I still don’t feel like I am the wiser, more secure person that you are “supposed” to be once you’ve hit 30.

My therapist has been reminding me that it’s important to take little steps for big feats, so I am trying to use this awesome cognitive behavioral technique to overcome the irrational fear that’s consumed me since I was 24. Exercising daily, journaling, and taking my daily recommended dose of Sertraline are helpful in tackling this fear head-on, but conquering it also requires me to be more playful and lighthearted about my upcoming birthday. I am trying to understand that you only live once, so you might as well make the most of it, right?

To embrace this carefree attitude leading up to my 30th, I chose to honor that inner 9-year-old by paying homage to Baby Spice. I’d already made the platinum blonde plunge back in 2012, but Emma Bunton recently shared a striking pink hair transformation. It was time to take a page from my childhood idol and achieve the pastel pink color of my (new) dreams. After all, if Emma can look phenomenal with pink hair at 43, so can I at 30.

Dave J Hogan, Getty Images

Of course, I could write a whole piece about how long it takes to turn your hair pastel pink. It’s always wise to see a professional (like the fab Laura at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa) who can provide product recommendations and color-preserving tips. But more than that, I want to highlight the empowerment I experienced after that long coloring session was over; I felt more beautiful than the color itself.

That feeling is both warm and feminine like Emma’s Baby Spice alter ego, and it kindly reminds me that girliness never ends, whether I’m 10 or 37. And it’s equally strong and fierce, just like Emma Bunton, confirming that just because one decade ends, the next one on the horizon doesn’t have to be bad.

Looking back at my childhood self not only reminded me that the Spice Girls were awesome, but that I need to think of aging more positively. Yes, society places a lot of pressure on women as they age. We all hear the Hollywood horror stories of 30-plus actresses being pushed aside for younger starlets. But like my therapist says, aging is more of a reflection on how much you’ve grown throughout your life, and how you’ve learned from your anxieties, tears, laughter, and mistakes. Just like Baby Spice (and the rest of the Spice Girls) sang, “Past encounters have made her strong, strong enough to carry on and on.”

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