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Can We All Be #GIRLBOSS[es]?

Published on 28/03/17

Book review : #GIRLBOSS

by Cynthia Chiu

Sophia Amoruso​, a 32-year-old with a $280 million net worth, is the founder of one of “the fastest growing companies” (Inc. Magazine) fashion company named Nasty Gal, and the author of a New York Times Bestseller titled #GIRLBOSS.

#GIRLBOSS was published in 2014, by this Forbes-named “richest self-made women in the world”. Whilst writing this review, I wonder however, how much has feminism changed our society since then?

I must admit - the book appealed to me because I liked Amoruso’s clothing brand (and the book’s baby-pink cover). I remember bumping into a ‘reaction haul’ video, where the dad of the producer of the video accused her of ‘misbehaving’ due to the fact that she has ordered some clothes from a store called Nasty Gal. At that time he had yet to seen anything inside the box, but still, he assumed that Nasty Gal is a disrespectful brand. Interesting... isn’t it?

If this is a man's world, who cares? I'm still really glad to be a girl in it."


I can’t possibly speak for the founder of this ‘disrespectful’ brand, but to me the ‘provocative’ name embodies a sense of rebellion. Perhaps, of a presumptuous break-free from the presumptive, from “the Said” (Critchley), and from the ‘asking for it’ notion that will never move society forward as it lacks the force to breed new perspectives. (Or perhaps this attraction roots in my teenage angst) Anyhow, Amoruso remarks that the “spirit of Nasty Gal” aims to empower women “to dress for yourself, and know that it’s not shallow to put effort into how you look” -- that you “don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both,” if that’s want you want.

I now know that letting someone open a door for me doesn't make me any less independent."


This review is written by a liberal feminist not a radical one, apologies. I believe in the feminine power fortified by presumed, perceptible vulnerability; as well as the right for people to dress as a boy without being discriminated if that’s what they prefer to dressing like a ‘lipstick feminist’. Feminism should stand for equality for all; it should stand for unity, liberation and acceptance for all genders. (Hence male-feminists should also be welcomed)

People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take."

Emma Goldman

It seems that Amoruso’s objective of writing the book is to demonstrate (with her ‘success story’) that :

  1. If she can do this, than all of us can, but more importantly --

  2. Her example shows us that we have within us which is stronger than the restrictions

    imposed on girls; which allows women to breakthrough in a male-dominated society

    (yes it is, even though the female population takes up 52% of the world’s).

It is not a notion to promote matriachy, but to show females that they are as able as their male counterparts.

This may seem very motivational, but Amoruso took it further for all the ‘palely loitering’ -- “generations of women fought for the rights that I [we] take for granted... and ​I believed he best way to honour the past and future of women’s rights is by getting sh*t done.” ​In Amoruso’s book, being a man or woman of words is not enough. She aims to get you all fired-up by the end of this book.

The book follows through the idea of “getting sh*t done” as the ideas behind each title of each chapter unveils. The book also features snippets of ‘success’ stories from #GIRLBOSS [ES] such as Leandra Medine, Christine Barberich and Norma Kamali. Interesting chapter titles... almost like a storyline. Shall I list them for you?

  1. The Chronology of a #GIRLBOSS

  2. So You Want to BE a #GIRLBOSS?

  3. How I Became a #GIRLBOSS

  4. Sh*tty Jobs Saved My Life

  5. Shoplifting (and Hitchhiking) Saved My Life (it is not what you think it’d be)

  6. Money Looks better in the Bank than on Your Feet

  7. Hocus-pocus : The Power of Magical Thinking

  8. I am the Anti-fashion

  9. On Hiring, Staying Employed and Firing

  10. Taking Care of Your (own) Business

  11. Creativity in Everything

  12. The Chances

The chapters are short and easy to read. Yet I must say -- despite the overwhelming repetition of the phrase “hashtag GIRLBOSS”, I believe anyone would and should be able to enjoy this liberating, empowering and happy read.

This book reminded me of several other feminists including : Ibz Mo, who is a Cambridge student, as well as a Youtuber. He remarks in his Q&A video : “It is sad that when we think about Cambridge, we think white, and it is majority white; we think male, and it is male-dominated.” Yet the point is, he argues, that we become the changes that we want to see, that we ​become​ the forces that shakes up the current societal structures. Or Charlotte Gilman, author of ​The Yellow Wallpaper​, the real-life version of the female protagonist who was patronised by patriarchy -- although stripped of her identity, prescribed the ‘Rest Cure’ for her postnatal depression, she ultimately fought depression without the Rest Cure.

“Nasty Gal” ​symbolises the modern, boldly soft feminine power that Plath has likened to Mushrooms, ​or the Queen Mother had demonstrated as “the most dangerous woman in Europe” (Hitler) with her defiance against Nazism.

Uncle Ben said to Spider Man once : “With great power comes great responsibility.” #GIRLBOSS ​is merely one of the many sources of educational power. The book alone is empowering enough, but at the same time will never be enough. Our ‘soft fists’ ought to ‘insist’ on liberating all genders from the confinement of the standardised, incarcerating gender roles... and

‘We shall by morning Inherit the earth. Our foot is in the door.’