Nothing gets the She Spends team more up-in-arms than seeing the term “girlboss” or any of its sister terms, including “boss babe,” “boss bitch” or “mompreneur.” So when Alicia saw this Too Faced Boss Lady Beauty Agenda on Sephora’s website, we almost exploded. Here’s proof in the form of a Slack conversation Amanda, Jemma and Alicia had the day she spotted the abomination.
AM: I am infuriated.
JF: Too Faced is so gimmicky
AE: THIS IS WHY WE ARE HERE
JF: Does this eyeshadow do enough to dismantle the patriarchy? Does my “boss lady” throw pillow come from a sweatshop that subjects working women and girls to a lifetime of poverty? Do I need a #feminist T-shirt to remind myself that I am I feminist? I guess. Can’t wait to climb to management and break the glass ceiling to reinforce an exceptionalism narrative!!!
AM: I #hustle and #grind every day to keep the patriarchy in powerrrrr
JF: I don’t #combat the system I #work the system
What’s the big deal, right? It’s just an eyeshadow kit. Or a pillow. Or a T-shirt. Except, it’s totally not. Language like “girlboss” is infantilizing to women. We don’t use these types of terms for other underrepresented groups, as Kathleen Davis noted in this piece in Fast Company. In fact, if we did, it would almost seem like a slur.
There’s more at play with these terms, though. It makes the work women do seem like a frivolous exercise, as if it’s something we’re doing just to occupy our time. It erases the huge portion of women who support their families, often for minimum wage. In other words, “girlboss” is class prohibitive; “girlworker” is just as deserving of basic human dignity as “girlboss.”
What’s more is that these terms are used to sell products that are often made by low-income women in countries far away from our own. Companies mark up the prices to sell “feminism” without actually practicing any feminist values. And many women buy it. After all, who wouldn’t want a world where our hard work was celebrated with sparkles and hashtags and throw pillows?
This is why at She Spends, we don’t use these types of terms. They diminish the important work women are doing in all fields and erase our sisters working in low-income jobs. We don’t need to wrap our work up in pretty bows to make it seem beautiful and cute to other people. In fact, we’re happy to do the opposite, sharing the tough parts of our jobs in a supportive environment.
What #feminism is good for is moving eyeshadow palettes, T-shirts, throw pillows, notebooks, pencil cases, bags and other garbage. We’ve had enough of infantilizing products exploiting feminism to a capitalist end. She Spends is here to exploit capitalism to a feminist end.