Celebrating Girl Squads of the ’80s and ’90s
Lest you begin to think Taylor Swift invented the notion of girl squads, you should know that girl squads have been around since the beginning of time. I’m no paleontologist, but I bet even girl dinosaurs would band together with other girl dinosaurs because even they knew the importance of female friendship. Groups of girlfriends taking on the world is nothing new, but it does feel like they had a big resurgence in pop culture during the 1980s and 1990s. Here are a few of our favorites from that time. By the time you get through this list, you’ll be calling your best girls up for an impromptu hang. Girl Power, always and forever. But especially in the '80s and '90s.
Books: The Baby-Sitters Club
Say hello to your friends! In 1986, Ann M. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea was released and we were introduced to a group of very best friends (and teen entrepreneurs) in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacy, Dawn, Jessi, and Mallory not only ran a business together (BSC was a very lucrative venture for a group of 13 and 11-year olds!), but weathered the challenges of growing up together. Dealing with divorce, dating problems, illness, and navigating changing friendships, these girls had each other’s backs through it all. They proved that girl squads aren’t just for adults.
TV: The Golden Girls
Didn’t everyone in the '80s and '90s want to join this girl squad? Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia were having the best time living out their retirement together in Miami. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with your best gals on that lovely little lanai all day? They didn’t always get along — Dorothy always had a sarcastic zinger for her pals — but at the end of the day they could always come together at the kitchen table around a piece of cheesecake. A girl squad founded on a shared love of cheesecake? Sign. Me. Up.
Music: The Spice Girls
Their rallying cry was “Girl Power!” and what else do you really need in a girl squad? Ginger, Baby, Scary, Posh, and Sporty Spices were all about the power of female friendship from the beginning — their first hit song, 1996’s “Wannabe” was literally about not dating a guy unless her friends approved. Sure, in reality the ladies of the Spice Girls couldn’t get over some in-fighting and Ginger ditched her pals in the late 90s, but for all intents and purposes they taught '90s girls that their friendships only made them stronger. And also to zig-a-zig-ah. Whatever that means.
Movies: Now & Then
Sam, Roberta, Chrissy, and Teeny prove that a true girl squad will always be connected no matter how much time or space separates them. In the 1995 film, we see the four friends survive a very formative summer together in the 1970s—boys, divorce, the death of a parent, ghosts—and then learn that as they became adults, they went their separate ways. They come back together as adults in 1991 to reflect on their friendship and vow to make an effort to see each other more. Yet, even though they haven’t been in each other’s lives as much as they were as kids, they carried each other and their memories together with them, always. That’s some hardcore girl power, if you ask me.
TV: Living Single
Sure there were guys around, but the friendship between Brooklynites Khadijah, Synclaire, Max, and Regine is what endures from this classic 90s sitcom. It was easy to relate to these four single ladies who didn’t need a partner to enjoy life—they had each other. It didn’t matter that they came from different socioeconomic backgrounds, each of the friends was a valuable member of the group. Even as they began to fall in love, get married, and have children, the four women of Living Single were bound together from their shared experience of just trying to survive single life in the big city.
Music: The Bangles
If you’re an '80s kid, this female rock band basically created the soundtrack to your childhood. “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Manic Monday,” and hello, “Eternal Flame” are all unforgettable songs, made even more memorable by the fact that you got a little dose of female empowerment each time you listened to them. Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson, Susanna Hoffs, and Michael Steele had a falling out at the height of their fame, but eventually found their way back to one another in the '90s. Okay, so they broke up again but hey, no one ever said keeping your girl squad together was easy. Still, for any wannabe musician, how wonderful was it to watch four female friends rocking out together on stage, doing what they love?
TV: Sex and the City
The girl squad of HBO’s seminal '90s (and early 2000s) series Sex and the City changed all girl squads forever. From then on, every girl squad was trying to figure out who among them was the Carrie, the Miranda, the Samantha, or the Charlotte. Like all the girl squads we’ve discussed today, the ladies from Sex and the City didn’t always see eye-to-eye, and each brought their unique perspective to their group of friends, but those differences were celebrated. Although, as different as these four were, they could all agree that breaking up with someone on a post-it note is just plain wrong.