The Girlboss Problem

The language of business has evolved from ‘Profit and Loss’ or ‘Service Assistant’ to ‘Social Impact’ and ‘Happiness Officer’ as we begin dismantling suffocating corporate cultures. This change in language shows the way we talk about business is evolving in response to the changes in the business landscape . Which is a good thing, unless it isn’t. Enter, the Girlboss problem.

The Problem with Girlboss

#Girlboss began as the title of NastyGal founder Sophie Amoruso’s best seller and is also the name of her resource website So far so good. A new descriptor for a new kind of business, Girlboss originally captured the ‘work smart, hustle hard, believe and achieve’ ethos of a self-made business person. They just happened to identify as female too.


Just Add Glitter

As the world of business is changing, especially with the rise of self-employed, digitally savvy young women and mom-preneurs, Girlboss has become  popularised across a range of platforms, industries and products.

Like anything overused, it risks losing meaning. With the rise of the empowered entrepreneur the word has begun to appear everywhere from stationery sets to underwear. Often it appears with a floral flourish, spray of glitter and a sprinkle of ‘purchase to increase self-worth’ thrown in too. Suddenly this badass, hard working hashtag is not only describing women but being used to market to them.


The aesthetics around the Girlboss movement are not an issue until you take a step back and look at the Boyboss aisle. Oh wait, there isn’t one. Because a Boyboss is just a “boss”. Duh.

The language of being a Girlboss has mutated from a term of empowerment, to one of endearment. It’s transformed from a label to signify badass femmes to an aspiration limited by a certain aesthetic, gender and a certain glass ceiling. “Sure honey,” it says “ you can be a woman and a boss, but you can’t be you know, like a real boss”.

The Death of the Girlboss?

Girlboss is not a dirty word. We still use it in our TW Inked hashtags because 1000s of Alternative Business owners still identify with it in a positive way. And to be honest, we do too.

I feel like Girlboss represents women rejecting the traditional business model and doing it our own way

Julia, The Independent Girls Collective

There is also an actual fuck-tonne of empowering an inspirational content out there around the word Girlboss. Just checkout the giphy result page for an instant sense of pride and community around sistas doing it for themselves.

girlboss quote gif

However, like all things in a state of transition, it is important to watch how a word or label evolves and  asses if it still resonates with you. Here are a few things you can do to check in with the language you use in your company to see if it is hurting or helping you connect with your audience.

Check in with Your Values – does the language you use in your copy and captions translate your business ethos effectively. Do those hashtags reach the people you want to work with?

Keep Educating Yourself – think about how your language affects you, but also those who look to your brand/ company for guidance.

Don’t Label Yourself – You are redefining business and you are a real business owner with or without that hashtag descriptor.

Alternative Businesses and their owners are changing the way business operates and that can be pretty tricky stuff. You are a boss first and foremost regardless of gender. Ensure you resonate with the language you use to help share your values with your audience, and keep them close to your vision too.

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