Mel C: ‘I come up against a lot of ageism in music’

“Why can’t I be the face of a sports brand just because I’m 43?” Mel C talks candidly to Good Housekeeping about battling ageism and being at odds with her Sporty Spice portrayal.

Mel C is making it her mission to break down the barriers of ageism. Speaking exclusively to the May 2017 issue of Good Housekeeping, she states:

“I come up against a lot of ageism in music, especially for women. There are certain radio stations that won’t play you because it doesn’t fit their demographic. I don’t have an issue with that. But there will be things that I would quite like to do and someone might say to me: ‘Well, you know we live in a very ageist society.’ Why can’t I be the face of a sports brand just because I’m 43? Why can’t I try? I want to break down these ageist barriers. I still feel youthful. I’m in the best shape of my life and I have just made one of the best records of my career.”

However, since turning 40, she admits her body has started to slow:

“At 39, I thought I was getting better with age. Then I hit 40 and did start to notice the wheels falling off a bit. Just waking up in the morning and taking longer to get going. And it hurts more when I bend down! But I feel lots of positive things, too. I’m much more confident and stronger in voicing my opinion and standing up for myself. Physically, there is a bit more maintenance, though!”

She reveals she’s had Botox, but doesn’t want to dramatically change the way she looks:

“… There are so many people in the public eye and in the street who look great and benefit from it, but I think it’s easy to get a little bit dysmorphic about it. It can be a slippery slope. I’ve done musical theatre and I want to be able to move my face. I’ve had bits of Botox done. I do like it, but it does freak me out because I don’t want to turn into that person that everyone thinks looks like Michael Jackson!”

She reveals she was at odds with her feisty portrayal in the Spice Girls:

“In the band, there was power in numbers and we egged one another on. As Sporty Spice, I felt I was portrayed as being quite bolshy, mouthy and aggressive and that has never been me. I felt really uncomfortable with this portrayal. When you’re in your early 20s, you are trying to figure out who you are anyway. I hate confrontation and, in the band, I was the diplomat. I’ve always been very low key and put up with stuff. I just got to a point where I realised it wasn’t serving me well. I had to take responsibility for myself.”

Despite turning down a reunion with the Spice Girls, she admits her New Year’s Eve duet with Victoria Beckham in the Maldives when they sang ‘2 become 1’ was really enjoyable:

“We had a bit of a joke and I made her the offer: your last chance! She came and it was lovely. We hadn’t been on stage together since the Olympics. It was fun for us, and I think it was really fun for the audience, too.”

How does she feel about going back on tour after taking a break?

“It’s exciting! But whenever I’m back on stage after a break, it is so petrifying. It’s like anything in life – when you haven’t done it in a while, you question whether you still can. It’s been five years since my last record – my longest break. You find yourself entering a world that has changed so much, but the album’s been well received, and now I finally get to my favourite part, which is getting on stage and performing and being able to express those emotions night after night. It’s going to be fun!”

Read the full Mel C interview in the May 2017 issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale 5th April. Also available as a digital edition.