Culture

Did We Just Witness The Death Of The Millennial Girlboss?

By Ella Carroll-Smith··  6 min read
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Glossier’s Emily Weiss was one of the many Millennial girlbosses who launched her career in the wake of Nasty Gal’s Sophia Amoruso's rise of stardom, and she just stepped down as CEO.

Emily Weiss founded her makeup and skincare line, Glossier, back in 2014. It was right around the time that a slew of other female founders were making a splash in the business world and starting their own companies. Many of them were following in the footsteps of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal. Amoruso is often thought of as the “OG” girlboss, so much so that she even started a company called #Girlboss and wrote a book with the same name.

The years from 2006 to (approximately) 2020 were the golden days of the Millennial girlboss. The idea of a female founder was normalized, and women found a voice for themselves in the workplace. They were no longer afraid to speak up or be disliked; many embraced the “think like a man” approach to the office and it paid off. We hustled, we climbed the corporate ladder, and we looked good doing it, but somewhere along the way, the once glossy girlboss ideal lost its luster. 

I wrote an entire article about all the reasons why that is, so I won’t repeat myself here. But Emily Weiss stepping down as the CEO of Glossier (a much-loved and iconic brand) seems to signal yet another shift in the era of the girlboss. Emily is not going anywhere and will remain an integral part of the company, but in a very different capacity. Her new title will be Executive Chairwoman, and she’ll “focus more of [her] time as [she] did in the earlier days – supporting our brilliant leaders of creative, brand, product and retail, as they take our customer experience innovation to new heights.”

Emily’s primary focus in the next few weeks to months, however, will be on her family. She’s nine months pregnant and expecting her baby any day now. Before she tackles her new role at Glossier, Emily is looking forward to beginning her arguably more important new role as a mom. The fact that Emily stepping down as CEO coincides with her starting a family (and might even be motivated by that fact) makes me think about the evolution of the entire girlboss phenomenon from 2006 to now. Even though a lot of women (especially Gen Zers) are abandoning the identity, I don’t think the girlboss is “dead” per se, I think she just grew up. 

The girlboss isn’t dead, she just grew up. 

The New Era of the Girl Boss 

Millennial women are in very different places now than we were in 2006 (obviously). I was in high school in 2006. I’m in my thirties now. It makes sense that our priorities have shifted away from the hustle and more towards the home. That’s the natural way of things, but that shift feels like an earthquake for many Millennial women because we’ve been conditioned from a young age to believe that “hustling” is the most important thing we’ll ever do in life. Why start a family when you could start a company?

But life goes on, you grow up, and reality will eventually come knocking. You can start a business at any age, but if you want to start a family, as many women do, there’s an undeniable clock ticking. Sophia Amoruso is 38. Emily Weiss is 37. It’s normal for women in their thirties to shift their focus toward having a family. Girlbosses are human too. 

When you’re twenty, it’s easy and even romantic to think that your entire life should be wrapped up in your work. The idea of power-walking into the office in your stilettos, cup of Starbucks in one hand and trendy briefcase in the other, is intoxicating. We all watched Devil Wears Prada and believed that Andy’s evolution could be our own evolution, so we bought the girlboss ticket, took the ride, and found ourselves wanting more. Because when you reach your thirties and all you have is your work, the shine on your stilettos becomes dull. 

The mature, well-rounded woman phase is an even more important iteration of the girlboss.

The new era of the girlboss goes beyond the boardroom. This is the era of a mature, well-rounded woman. A woman who’s worldly and understands that there’s far more to life than your job. Life is what happens outside the office, not in it. As we say here at Evie all the time: it’s just as admirable to aspire to be a mother as it is to aspire to be a career woman. You don’t need to be a “girlboss,” you just need to be happy. Even girlbosses like Emily Weiss are realizing that true happiness is about more than just being CEO. 

Girlboss Is a State of Mind

Some women are rejecting the traditional idea of the girlboss altogether and leaving behind the grind for more down-to-earth pursuits. One former PR professional left her job in the city and bought a farm, and she has never been happier. Does that make her less worthy than a traditional girlboss? Of course not. We need to collectively move past the idea that women are only praiseworthy when they succeed in male-dominated fields like business and finance. Why can’t a teacher or a homemaker or a farmer be a woman to aspire to? After all, a girlboss is a state of mind more than anything else. 

Emily Weiss is no longer the CEO of Glossier, but that’s just a change in title. She’s still the founder of Glossier, but she’s also a wife and a mother now too. She has grown up, as all Millennial women have. She’s not a girl anymore, she’s a woman, and this next chapter of her life might look a little different, but it will most likely be the most fulfilling and meaningful phase yet. 

Closing Thoughts

Although the girlboss vision of happiness was an ultimately shallow one, the confidence that she represented was still important and very meaningful to a lot of women in the workplace. But I'd argue to say that this next phase – the mature, well-rounded woman phase – is an even more important iteration of the girlboss.

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