Last updated: April 2021.
I’ve heard a lot about #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso recently, so I picked it up to read on the train. If people are still raving about it a year after release, I figured it’d be worth a read! #Girlboss is an autobiography of sorts by Sophia Amoruso, the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal.
About Sophia Amoruso and Nasty Gal
Nasty Gal started out as a small business on eBay, then developed into a multi-million dollar online shop. Sophia is definitely an exception in the world of business. Her passion for vintage clothes is definitely a reason Nasty Gal was so successful, and that passion is evident in the book.
While I used to love Nasty Gal, I no longer purchase clothing from them. Why? Because they turned into a fast fashion brand. Since the company went bankrupt, it was acquired by huge fast fashion retailer BooHoo. I suppose you couldn’t turn your small vintage clothing business into a multi-million dollar company without exploitation… Just being honest here. There are many allegations from previous Nasty Gal employees of discrimination, wrongful termination and managerial abuse.
I totally understand that sustainable clothing isn’t an option for everyone, as ethically made clothes can be expensive, and less accessible. Personally, I feel guilty when I purchase fast fashion, so I avoid it where possible. I shop second-hand on eBay, in charity shops, and try to make do with what I already own. Recently I’ve started refashioning my old clothes, and repairing damaged items. Although I will say, the majority of my wardrobe is still fast fashion – I’ve just made my clothes last longer by fixing things.
Related Post: Budget-Friendly Fashion Tips for Students.
#Girlboss Book Review
I read #Girlboss in one sitting, and found it an easy read. Sophia’s anecdotes are funny, and I couldn’t help but feel a little inspired by her attitude and the quotes scattered through the book. If you’re a small business owner, blogger or fashion lover, I feel like you’ll enjoy it. However, if you’re looking for actionable advice or a guide to creating your own company, it isn’t for you.
#Girlboss is more of an inspiration book for women to become whoever they want to be if they work hard enough. While I agree that passion, dedication and working hard are important, remember that Sophia’s level of success isn’t the norm. Unfortunately in this world, meritocracy is emphasised, but often ‘connections’ and money are how people can rise to the top.
The concept of a ‘girlboss’ has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years, particularly due to the rise of social media influencers. Many women have carved out successful careers online, and it’s obvious why someone like Sophia Amoruso would be an inspiration to them. The girlboss image appears to be mostly middle-class white women with a discernment for image… think glossy branding and highly curated Instagram feeds. It’s not very diverse at all.
Girlbosses tend to only show the highlight reels of their lives, idealising their work, rather than showing the realities of running your own business. It’s definitely controversial: many women find it inspiring, but likewise many find it demeaning and infantalising. In 2020, an advert was banned in the UK for using the phrase ‘you do the girlboss thing, we’ll do the SEO’. So patronising!
What actually is Girlboss Culture?
It’s essentially a kind of corporate feminism, characterised by slogans (#girlboss and femtrepreneur being two clear examples). It often borders on toxic productivity and aligns with hustle culture, essentially as a ‘feminine’ version of the ‘hustle bros’ you may have seen on Twitter and in those weird YouTube ads.
I have no issue with anyone who finds this kind of content aspirational, but you do need to make sure that you’re not making yourself feel guilty for not ‘hustling’ 24/7. When I read articles from writers that claim to wake up at 5am every day then work for hours and hours without a break… I worry about their wellbeing.
You need to make sure not to fall into the trap of toxic productivity, and look after yourself. Burning out is not fun or admirable!
More recently, Girlboss culture has been co-opted by MLMs (multi-level marketing). This is problematic, because MLMs are predatory and very close to pyramid schemes. The problem is that these companies appear to offer legitimate employment opportunities, but in reality, you’ll work entirely on commission and most people do not even earn back their initial investment. To lure in young women, MLM recruiters often use aspirational ‘girlboss’ or ‘boss babe’ branding with motivational quotes, portraying a ‘luxury lifestyle’. Please be cautious when approached for opportunities like this.
To leave this post on a positive note, I don’t regret reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, and enjoyed it more than I expected to. I have found myself motivated to work at my blog and creative skills recently. I hope that I’ll enjoy whatever job I have after I finish university, because feeling fulfilled in life is what it’s all about. You can read my tips on setting goals productively with gratitude if you like!
Have you read #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso?
I’d love to know your thoughts. While I can see why #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso is a popular read, I wouldn’t recommend reading this for small business tips or anything like that. Have you seen the Girlboss Netflix series? It was pretty wild.
All the best,