Racism in Female Groups: Spice Girls, Little Mix & Fifth Harmony

Racism: prejudice and discrimination against a person based on their ethnicity and race.

Girl groups have been predominant in the music industry. We can all name the iconic female groups that have been gracing the scene with their songs about heartbreak, love, friendships and everything to do with girlhood. But whilst providing us with these songs getting us through these good and bad times, racism, from fans, has been consistent in these groups



Spice girls- considered the most successful girl group at their time.

Formed in 1994, the English girl group mantra ‘girl power’ has transcended decades and is still a staple today. They were known for their diversity and empowerment and were considered one of the most successful girl groups of the 90s. Created as a way to challenge popular boy bands NSYNC and The Backstreet boys, the group consisted of 5 women. 

Scary spice- Mel B 

Sporty spice- Melanie Jayne Chisholm.

Baby spice- Emma Lee Bunton

Ginger spice- Geraldine Estelle Halliwell

Posh spice- Victoria Beckham

These women were legendary in breaking barriers for current female groups in the UK such as FLO and Little Mix. Some of their hit songs included, Wanna, Mama, When two become one, Viva Forever.


Mel B has been vocal about her experiences with racism, even starting from a young age. She went to a predominantly white school which made her a subject of racial abuse. Due to her being biracial with an Afro Caribbean father and an English mother. In this isolation, she worked hard and has spoken many times about being the only black member of the group making her a target, having an impact on her mental health and self esteem.

Known as ‘Scary Spice’ this stereotype has portrayed black women as vicious and daunting which she has already criticised as racially insensitive.



Also an English girl group, the original 4 girls were grouped together on the hit show X Factor in 2011 and all the girls auditioned individually. The group first consisted of Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirwill, Leigh-Anne Pinnock with Jesy Nelson leaving the group after 9 years in 2020.

Some of their hit songs included Black Magic, Salute, Shout out to my ex. They were renowned for their vocals and harmony which led them to win the X Factor and being successful ever since. Little Mix consistently promotes diversity and inclusion including LGBTQ+ rights.


Both women have spoken out and have been advocates against racism in the music industry for a while. Leigh-Anne has spoken about feeling marginalised, fans ignoring her and feeling overlooked in the group. She released a documentary called Race, Pop and Power , discussing her personal experiences with racism. She also talked about the lack of diversity within the industry and challenges black artists do face.

Jade has also openly spoken out against racism and discrimination she has faced. She, as well as Leigh-Anne, have spoken about lack of representation, tokenism and the pressure of conformity in the music industry space. They have also been using their platform to speak out against injustices of race and other marginalised groups.



The successful American girl group Fifth Harmony were formed similarly to Little mix at the X Factor.. The girls auditioned separately at auditions and were formed as a group. This group consisted of Ally Brooke, Camila Cabello, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui. Originally a group of 5, Camilla left the group in 2016, to pursue her solo career. The group has disbanded so members could pursue all their own solo careers.

Some of their hit songs include Work from home, Boss, Worth it, All in my head.


After Camilla’s departure, Normani was asked her opinion on her. She briefly described Camilla as ‘quirky and cute’ which left fans disappointed. This comment led to racial abuse including memes of Normani being lynched.

Normani has also been open in saying  she does not get the same opportunities as others, being the only black girl in the group. Now she is a successful solo artist who is still on the rise with a growing fan base.

Racism in the music industry must be confronted. From the 90s and Mel B discussing her experiences to present day with Jade,Leigh- Anne and Normani, racism is clearly an issue.

As women of colour continue to break barriers and  provide representation, this may undermine their talent. We must amplify their voices and support causes they fight for. This is because people ‘s talent should not be based on their race and at 5678 we must help create a more inclusive environment without the fear of being ridiculed and felt less than in the music industry.

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Written by: Sharon Antwi