AI Startups Are Facing a ReckoningRead more

Photograph: Sophia Amoruso.
Photograph: Sophia Amoruso.

‘The Only Way to Find Out If You’re a Pariah Is to Stick Around’: Sophia Amoruso Looks to the Future

The former Nasty Gal CEO became “wildly out of touch” during her 2010s rise and fall. Now she’s ready to test her staying power.

Photograph: Sophia Amoruso.
Dec. 23, 2021 12:00 PM PST

Sophia Amoruso has complicated feelings about the word “girlboss.”

“That poor word, I feel so bad for that word,” she says over the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “It must be so exhausted. It is exhausted. It does need to be put to rest. I have no attachment to it. I kind of cringe when people are like, ‘You’re a girlboss,’ or whatever. I don’t know.…When it comes up, I’m just like, ugh.”

Amoruso, of course, popularized the term with her best-selling 2014 memoir by the same name (with a hashtag affixed at the beginning). It is also the title of the 2017 Netflix series based on Amoruso’s life, which was canceled after its first season. The term, though, went on to have a life of its own long after Amoruso’s rise. As The Cut described it in August, “the term ‘girlboss’ became synonymous with ‘hustle culture,’ with a feminism-lite twist: the optimistic, almost religious desire to get ahead at work and in life. #Girlboss is the millennial-pink version of Helen Gurley Brown’s Having It All, the living embodiment of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s order to lean in.”

That’s a lot of baggage for a term that was barely spoken until a young startup founder claimed it for the title of her book.

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