Being a girlboss sounds fun, but in reality it can be extremely difficult to break into the world of big girl jobs. What’s a girlboss anyway? Born out of rising fury against capitalism, a girlboss is a girl in charge, at the top, the CEO, the boss of all bosses. Armed with independence, locked and loaded with business know-how and ready to take on the world, she is an unapologetic leader and inspiration to all the little wide-eyed futures of tomorrow. Although, much like the story of Icarus, the wax melts away and the feathers fall when you get too close to the sun as a girl in the working world, and no amount of bossing can cover up that fact.
Being a girlboss is not all it’s cracked out to be
The era of the girlboss, and all the girlbossing it provoked in the last decade, was supposed to help all the girls out there to succeed. We win when a she wins! The term was coined by former Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso, who was at the forefront of marching us into the new age of powerful women - minus the dreaded shoulder pads - began tearing down the patriarchy for us to follow. From there on, the term morphed into a monolith, becoming a bat signal for MLM hunbots to flock together and capitalist cronies to mock.
The death of the word couldn't come any sooner to some. The turn of the decade made us thrust aside girlbossing, as the pandemic opened our eyes to how insidious the term is. Smacking a little bit of faux feminism onto glorified patriarchal ideas is the attempt of some to maintain their aspirational capitalism. We as women, girls and femme presenting people, face a large task in getting the professional jobs we spend years working towards.
Girlboss culture creates an impossible standard that many can’t live up to, even the professed girlbosses themselves. Business Insider noted a list of famous CEO’s stepping down from their positions in 2020. Much like the ‘rise and grind culture’, girlbossing is a mythic dream that actually perpetuates more harm than good. Since no one tells you that the hard work doesn’t end when you get to the top.
Big girl job, big girl tears, big girl TikTok
The immediate feeling I had after I got offered my first real job - my dream job - was terrifying. I realised I had done it, then I realised I had done it. In the midst of confetti and congratulations texts flying into my notifications after posting about my new role, I felt like an imposter—like I should’ve been put in a record book for bamboozling a boss into hiring me. The feeling got worse when I started. Every Google Meet felt like a haze, the faces on the screen were not too much older than mine but were so far removed from where I was in life as a graduate. Some days I wasn’t sure if I was thankful or hateful towards the virtual screens separating us all.
Still, I felt like I had flown a bit too close to the sun - a feeling I think is unique to those who aren’t male and especially those who aren’t white and male - and I thought I was going to burn up and drop out because of it. Which is why I was surprised that - in a very modern take on saving the damsel in distress - an app came to my rescue. And that app was none other than Tik Tok.
Making lemonade out of lemons, humour has made light out of the heavy crown that lies on the heads of girlbossses, and aspiring girlbosses. Under the hashtag #girlboss I found loads - 3 million in fact - of videos, many of them related to my own struggle. My saving grace, however, was a sound. My FYP directed me to a particular sound that originated from a video by user carol.ine3. Since it has a whopping 6 million views, you might have heard of the video of a panicked Caroline Timoney saying the famous words “I fear I may have girlbossed a bit too close to the sun.”
The original video, uploaded by Timoney, has amassed over 1 million likes with more than 31,000 videos using the original sound and thousands more using remixed versions of it. In the video - no context, as Timoney shared with a gulp “Um, I cannot give more information” - the girl stated she has girlbossed too close to the sun. For those of us who can relate, the meaning is crystal clear - and hilarious too.
The sound then spiralled, triggering a stream of uploaded videos unloading the trials and tribulations of girlbossing for everyone to see. Though the term is mocked, it is the perfect descriptor for that feeling we all as girls in the working world have.
Just because girlboss crashed and burned - almost as quickly as it rose to popularity - doesn’t mean that we cannot form new ideas of empowerment from its ashes.
Written by Francesca Johnson
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