Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell-Horner has always had her finger on the cultural pulse. Now, as she turns 50, she’s blazing a trail for older women – and is more committed than ever to empowering others.
Meeting Geri Horner (ne´e Halliwell) for the first time is a disarming experience. For so many of us she’s an iconic figure: as one-fifth of the Spice Girls, the world’s most successful female group of all time, she is remembered as the boldest, most outspoken of the ballsy young women who brought girl power to the world in the nineties.
Sitting opposite me today, though, at an outdoor cafe´ in the grounds of stately Kenwood House, north London, is a low-key, thoughtful, incredibly polite woman. A youthful, almost boyish figure in white jeans, cream cashmere top, Alexander McQueen trainers (with chewed tongue courtesy of her rescue dog Daisy) and baseball cap, beneath which is tucked her trademark auburn hair, she passes mostly unrecognised by the other customers.
Of course, much has changed since the former Ginger Spice and her bandmates ruled the airwaves, with their mix of inspirational pop bravado and commercial savviness that saw global record sales totalling more than 100 million.
Perhaps the cheekiest member – she once memorably pinched Prince Charles’s behind at a Royal gala – she is now a wife (to Formula One boss Christian Horner), mother and stepmother, who divides her time between the family home in London and a farm in Oxfordshire. Her days include early morning horse rides, the school run and homework supervision.
What is harder to get your head around is the fact that Horner, the oldest of the fivesome, celebrates her 50th birthday on 6 August. How can this be? Where have the years gone – those charmed years when she and her cohorts made you feel anything was possible?
Unsurprisingly, Horner, who has always possessed an inbuilt barometer for detecting the collective cultural pulse, is ahead of the curve again. For her, this milestone birthday is unquestionably cause for celebration; no hiding away or declining to acknowledge it. No typical midlife angst. She’s embracing it with everything she’s got, determined to make every second count.
“Rather than saying I am 50, I’m saying I get to be 50,” she says delightedly. “I’ve got half a century under my belt! I thought if I am going to champion the evolution of what I’ve always stood for – and that’s empowering others, whoever you are, and being yourself – actually, another boundary to break is to say, ‘It’s alright, it’s more than alright, it’s amazing [to be 50].’ I think sometimes we can look at the future with fear, but it’s the opposite.”
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