Why I no longer want to be a #GIRLBOSS

Ditching a trendy hashtag that makes me feel like a failure

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We’re in the 21st century so you probably read the book, seen it in a hashtag form or heard someone call themselves like that. Google it, and you’ll find pens, t-shirts, diary’s and hats on sale rtwing off the same bold-lettered phrase: GIRLBOSS

I don’t know if I can call myself a feminist, but I believe in equality, I believe in women’s rights and I believe that women are remarkable. The older I grow the more invested I am in this subject and the prouder I get when I hear stories about women supporting and inspiring one another. Yet this one little phrase makes my skin crawl.

I’m the first person to point a finger at myself and admit that I am my own biggest critic. I’ve never really been great at cheering for myself but since last August, things have only gone worse in that department. You see, that’s when I decided to leave my secure job (which I loved, might I add) and do what at that point seemed like the Idea of The Century: set up my own business.

The last time I wore high heels for a full day I fell and headbutted a pensioner…

I know exactly what a lot of you will think now because that is what I used to think when I heard someone say these magic words. You’ll think: She’s brave, good on her, that’s fantastic, another Girlboss joining the group.

The phrase Girlboss used to make my stomach churn because I wanted to be one so badly. From afar it seemed glamorous and exciting and almost unreachable and I think I thought that if I could just manage to be my own boss, the world will suddenly be perfect. My Instagram account will look like a pastel dream, I’ll be strutting my stuff on high heels from 8am-5pm and people will be asking ME for business advice for a change.

The reality of it is that my Instagram still looks like an amateur scrapbook with far too many pictures of my cat, the last time I wore high heels for a full day I fell and headbutted a pensioner and if anyone would ask me business-related questions, I would curl up on the floor and whimper.

The issue here isn’t that I feel the way I do – realistically, I can’t be the only one. Starting a new business is some life-changing, scary shit and unless you are Wonderwoman and all the stars all aligned especially for you, you will struggle.

The issue is that most of the time, I’m made to think that by feeling like I do, I am failing. That me being insecure, scared, sceptical and often lonely means that I should probably stop what I’m doing, and I am not cut out for running my own company (what a load of crap).

What social media and society are telling me is that honesty and vulnerability are big no-no’s if you want to be a Girlboss.

I’m a huge Instagram addict and while I love scrolling through it 50 times a day I am painfully aware that it is constantly making me feel less than I am. It’s a subject we keep talking about, yet nothing seems to change. The fact is that looking at other women’s #girlboss-riddled, seemingly perfect life/appearance/home/business is making many of us, simply put, feel.like.shit.

What social media and society are telling me is that honesty and vulnerability are big no-no’s if you want to be a Girlboss. Well let me tell you, I no longer want to be one. After only spending 7 months trying to get ‘promoted’ to this position I am now stepping aside because clearly, this is not for me.

Because let’s face it, I’m a 28-year-old girl struggling with insomnia, stress eating, making a million mistakes and wanting to bang my head against the wall on a daily basis – all due to the fact that I am building a business. On a good day, I will sit down and battle through my mile-long to-do list and keep telling myself: you’ve got this, baby. But who am I kidding? I absolutely do not have this at all. In the best case scenario, I kind of, sort of, sometimes have it. AND THAT IS OKAY. Because I’m also a 28-year-old girl who loves what she does and worked her ass off to be where she is now.

Like I said, I am my own biggest critic. And while it’s very unlikely that you’ll see me using the trendy G hashtag anytime soon, I am hoping to achieve something a hell of a lot harder than being a Girlboss: kinder to myself.

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  • Great article! Think it’s worth looking at what a feminist is and considering if you can identify with it (aka everything you said straight after saying I’m not sure I am!). Go get em girl!!

    • Hi Nic, thank you for reading! I love the history of feminism and used to study it quite a bit at university – the only reason why I’m reluctant to label myself as such is that I like to believe that gender equality is the way forward. If I’d really have to label myself, I’d say I’m a humanist and as such I’m nothing more than a mere ‘boss’. And even that sounds like an exaggeration:)

  • Dear Melinda, if you aren’t a girlboss yet you are certainly a girlboss in training and that’s exactly where you need to be. I credit Sophia Amoroso’s #girlboss book for being the lynchpin that helped me propel my career? Why? She definitely taught me to be vulnerable. I was so afraid of failing I never took risks. While the men I worked alongside took risks and seemed to pick themselves up if they struggled.

    Sophia specifically says “failure is a reason to reinvent yourself”. She encourages us to be vulnerable and fail so we learn our biggest lessons. Perhaps the hashtag is annoying but the ethos of the original book most definitely isn’t. I don’t know anyone else who is a multi millionaire having started a business with $170 in their bedroom.

    There are resources for female entrepreneurs and wonderful networks I will happily put you in touch with. Because girlbosses definitely support each other.

    • Hi Mona,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my article! I have absolutely nothing against people who do identify as Girlbosses. I just wouldn’t describe myself as one, that is all. It’s subjective and personal and each one of us will see it from different perspectives, and I think that is okay.

      I look up to Sophia and what she achieved and everything she wrote in her book – I just think the whole idea of the book has now been slightly distorted and taken into a different dimension, one I can’t fully agree with. Mainly because of my personal experiences. I do a lot of networking (one of the ‘fun’ sides of owning a business), some of it within ladies only groups. The last time I stood up and said that I’m in need of reassurance and help, 4 successful ladies came up to me saying maybe it’s time to cut my losses while I can. All of them used the word ‘girlboss’ in their introductions.

      That being said, I am supported by some amazing women who own their own businesses and I don’t think I could do all this without them. The main reason why I’m so proud of being part of the ALL community is because of all you lovely ladies here!


  • I’m not keen on the #girlboss hashtag but it’s not because I feel that I don’t live up to it.. and you shouldn’t either! I’m not keen on it because if I’m honest.. it never sounds that genuine. I am a business owner and am literally surrounded by female business owners.. all showing their crazy achievements AND their vulnerabilities and owning a business is hard and crazy and wonderful and we’re all making shit up and trying our best.. so if something isn’t feeding you positively then let it pass.. it’s not good for you (or your business). Then concentrate on the good stuff.. who and what makes you feel like you.. 🙂

  • Melinda.. you have a beautiful surname and a lovely personality. Your comic talent should not be underestimated either!

    Mistakes, insecurities and self doubt are normal. Don’t believe all you see on social media please!

    I’m ‘mature’ enough to remember life before internet and social media and can tell you that you should just trust your own instincts. If you don’t feel ready to be your own boss that’s totally fine. You are not a failure, you are a realist and are being honest.It’s not for everyone.

    It’s important to be true to yourself and to know when you are taking too much on and making yourself ill. Try cutting down your time scrolling through instagram accounts and the like. Instead research books which will help you to focus upon what you really want to achieve..

    You are an intelligent and brave young woman. Believe in yourself and look after your health..for without it you won’t enjoy these precious young years, which fly past so fast. Life is too short to scroll… be yourself and your purpose will find you:-)

    • Dear Diana, how lovely you are!

      Becoming my own boss was a huge leap of faith, but even with all the sleepless nights I still believe that I’ve made the right decision and I’m doing the right thing. Social media is a huge guilty pleasure for me – but I’m starting to feel like there’s far more guilty than pleasure in it.

      I’ve made a very conscious decision to spend more time away from the computer, work a little bit less, go on walks, surround myself with good people, and to even love myself a tiny bit more.

      And now that you’ve read this too, you’re more than welcome to hold me accountable!:)

  • Oh holy endless breadsticks, Melinda — you took the words right out of my mouth (‘scuse the cheesy Meatloaf reference).

    I never took to the term Girlboss either and that’s nothing to do with rejecting the empowering message behind it but all about the actual word(s). I adored a cakemaker who, a couple of years ago, took a dislike to it and said on Instagram: “I’m not the Girlboss — I’m the creative, the maker, the delivery driver, the bookkeeper, the cleaner, the marketing department andandand, all rolled into one”.

    And I’ve had just that conversation about the beauty yet also not-so-pretty side of social media a few times last week, sparked by Annabel’s post on blogging.

    Of course I love scrolling through beautiful interiors and artfully captured scenes of ‘the good life’. Who doesn’t. But I’m more and more finding that the posts that really grab me are the ones that make me snort my tea right through my nose, the ones that make me want to holler “oh me too!”.

    So really: the ones that, instead of leaving me feel inadequate, make me feel that it’s ok to be me, to feel like I’ve totally got this just as often as I feel like loosing my shit.

    So this is my very best cheerleading dance and a big fat hurrah for showing more of our honest and vulnerable selves, the ones that make us connect with not alienate from each other.

    And now give yourself a break, go for that walk and breathe and I promise, I’ll do the same. *saidinpositiveencouragingyougotthisstylenothorriblypatronisingway*

    • Hello there Anna,

      First of all: whenever I read anything you write, it makes ME snort my tea right through my nose! And that is exactly the reaction I want to have when I’m reading or scrolling through social media. I want to know that I’m not the only one who will set off to a meeting with only one eye made up, or who puts a full white load into the washing machine with one wondering pink t-shirt (you’ll guess how this story ended) – we’re all human and making mistakes like these together creates a bond between us all, and I think that is so precious.

      I’m sure the word works for some, it’s just not quite right for me (or you). We should all embrace whatever floats our own boats and just go with it!

      Let’s do the cheerleading dance together (and hope that no one comes in the office in the next 5 minutes:) !

  • I don’t dislike “girlboss” as a concept but the phrase itself feels somewhat… frivolous, maybe? Sort of like someone is playing at running a business… and when half the time I feel a bit like I’m not as much of a pro as I should be, it doesn’t help much!

    I think the aesthetic of being a successful woman running around in killer heels and bright lippy is also a bit misleading… I’m more likely to be found frowning over the accounts (my *least* favourite bit of running my business!) with no make up on, or pacing around the office in ripped jeans. And in the early days, even more likely to be found on the sofa in my PJs, doing everything from my lap!

    But if it makes some women feel empowered then fair enough I guess! Not a label I’d apply to myself though.

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