Before 2014, the word ‘girlboss’ didn’t even cross our minds. Then Sophia Amoruso released her part autobiography, part self-help book of the same title. The antithesis of Lean In, instead of working with a system that is against us, #Girlboss wanted us to create a new one entirely. It told the story of a college drop-out, anarchist freegan who out of disdain for “The Man,” created an eBay shop that would eventually go on to make $100 million in sales just six years after launching. While the content of the book was questionable at best, #Girlboss served as inspiration for those who didn’t have nepotism or money on their side; those who didn’t want to stifle their femininity to seem “more professional.” Conservative women hated it, but then one day they became it. What was once a title used exclusively by misfits was now being used to describe the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Coco Chanel. Sure they were successful, but their problematic behavior isn’t anything worth celebrating.
Ironically enough, a brand that was created to subvert capitalism is now plastered in every T.J. Maxx and Hobby Lobby and it turned out that these ‘girlboss’ CEOs didn’t quite care about equality and creating better workplaces. ‘Girlboss’ turned into a marketing scheme they could cash in on. Refinery29 was founded to "amplify and build community around women rarely seen or heard in media" but the Black Lives Matter movement helped shed some light on what it was really like working there. Two black women claimed they were paid less and another said co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Christene Barberich would confuse her with another black employee.
This breed of white, #Girlboss feminism hit its peak when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016. Despite the fact that other candidates were probably more fit for the position, Clinton gained a lot of support because she was a woman. Don’t get me wrong I’m patiently waiting for the day a woman takes office but it would be a disservice to vote for her simply because she was a woman when I didn’t totally agree with her policy. However, the internet didn’t care because a Lady-in-Command was great marketing. Plenty of ‘girlboss’ companies, Etsy shops, and pyramid schemes loved feminism for the sake of earning money, but when it came to actually supporting feminist causes like maternity leave and workplace harassment these self-proclaimed girlbosses were silent.
The final nail in the coffin was when the original #Girlboss herself, Sophia Amoruso turned out to be everything she originally hated. Former employees didn’t hold back when posting reviews on Glassdoor. The pros of the company-- free snacks and lots of parties, paled in comparison to the plethora of cons. There was little employee appreciation unless you were a close friend of Amoruso, no room for growth and Amoruso cared more about the image of Nasty Gal than actually running a business. And oh, can’t forget about the lawsuit against Amoruso that claims she fired four employees after they became pregnant.
At the end of the day, you can turn everything pink with venus symbols splashed on the front, but unless you’re actively fighting for ALL types of people, even the ones that don’t look like you, it doesn’t mean jack shit.