Marketing is a powerful force in the world. It can make us think we need a Swarovski-encrusted iPhone case. It can also make educated, accomplished women believe that being referred to as a “girl” is empowering.
Or at least that’s one way of looking at the popularity of #GIRLBOSS, coined by Sophia Amoruso, the sharp-as-nails founder and CEO of online fashion retail site, NastyGal.
#GIRLBOSS is the title of Amoruso’s bestselling “business book and life bible.” Published this past May, it’s a Lean In–style memoir for millennial women.
Amoruso’s advice—which we love, BTW— is neither fusty nor staid. Her persona is cool and her advice is Kelly Cutrone-style harsh. Lose your sense of entitlement, she says to whiny wannabes with a minor-league work ethic. Pay your dues working and hustling and showing up at lousy jobs, because “you are not a special snowflake” who is going to fall into success.
Amoruso is taking her role as mentor seriously. Recently she announced that she has started a foundation that will award grants to women working in the fields of design, fashion, music and art “to help fund them on their way to becoming a #GIRLBOSS.”
Her philanthropic bent is awesome. But what a relief it would be if she aged her marketing strategy, because the whole #GIRLBOSS concept feels kind of…juvenile.
For one, the definition of a #GIRLBOSS as someone who “gets what she wants because she works for it” doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. A woman gets what she wants because she works for it (most of the time, anyway). A girl goes to bed before 10 p.m. and does homework.
But the problem with the phrase becomes abundantly clear when you play a little substitution game.
Can you imagine Mark Zuckerberg calling himself that? Or see an entire generation of men identifying themselves similarly?
Amoruso’s answer to critics is that #GIRLBOSS sounds far better than “broad boss” and “matron boss,” and she’s right. (We also prefer it to that other boss hashtag going around—#BossBitch.) But what she’s failing to acknowledge is that in a woman’s life nothing sounds as sweet as simply being called #BOSS.