I Read #GIRLBOSS and I Hated It

girlboss book review

Do you ever really look forward to something just to have it turn out to be a massive disappointment? That’s what happened to me after I finished reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. As a self-proclaimed girl boss myself (I have an LLC which basically makes me a boss of some sort, right?), I was looking forward to being inspired with real-life, no bullshit tips from a very successful woman in the fashion industry. Instead, I ended up realizing that Ms. Amoruso is extremely unlikable and that the book offered no actionable tips or inspiring stories at all.

Her writing style is contrived — she often comes off as “that” girl we all know who tries a little too hard to be in your friend group. Although I applaud her trying to connect with her audience of future girl bosses, it’s too forced and too conversational. She references inside jokes without providing context and goes off on tangents that never really relate back to the point of the story, which I find hard to keep up with. It’s almost as if she’s writing the book for her fangirls and not for future female entrepreneurs. If that’s the case, then the title should be changed to, “So You Want to Wipe Sophia’s Ass?” or “The Childhood of Nasty Gal’s Founder”.

My biggest problem with the book is the narcissism that leaks off of every page. The amount of humble-bragging, and sometimes not-so-humble-bragging, that goes on in the book is incredible. From talking about how ~awesome~ her Myspace skills were (seriously, is this something people brag about still?) to every event that led up to her purchasing her Porsche, no chapter is completed without a little self-aggrandizing glory. She presents herself as a role model for women, proving that “anyone can do anything if they work hard”, but then fails to acknowledge anyone who helped her get to the top. Instead, she focuses on how she did it all herself (and in not-so-great ways, like failing to pay her models and instead paying them “in burgers”) which isn’t really what an inspiring CEO should be preaching.

Another issue with Amoruso, and the book itself, is how contradictory her messaging is. She says, “I’m here to tell you that the straight and narrow is not the only way to success”, which is an empowering message in itself. However, the path she took isn’t anything that a young woman should try for herself or relate to as girl boss behavior. She spends the majority of the book talking about her past (which is a huge red flag in itself), and how she couldn’t hold a steady job, had no work ethic, didn’t really care about anything other than rebelling — and then switches over to how hard she worked growing up. Um, no you didn’t. You slacked off for 90% of your life, opened up an Ebay shop and played around on Myspace and got famous from selling vintage clothes on pretty models. Working hard for 1% of your life should not equal 100% success. The math just doesn’t add up.

All of the women out there who actually spend their days working their asses off to become the next entrepreneur should be the ones succeeding- and the book just reinforces that. Maybe that’s why I was so upset and uninspired by the book. As someone who has never been handed anything and works hard for her successes, it’s cringe-worthy to see someone who didn’t put that work in succeed and then have the guts to write about it. Amoruso essentially bought vintage clothes, put them on her pretty friends, and then got her Myspace followers to spend their money on them. If that’s called “working your ass off”, then we’d all be rich.

When she’s not writing about how “hardXcore” she was by stealing things and rebelling against society as a teenager/grown woman, Amoruso invites some of her girl boss friends to write about their journeys. “This should be promising. Maybe I’ll give this book another chance”, I thought. Nope. If she included anyone inspiring (she includes a blogger with an embarrassing domain name and a writer for an often-criticized fashion company), and if the stories were more than ramblings about how cool nail polish is, then maybe.

For a book that is supposed to be filled with “honest advice that’s useful for women in any industry”, it lacks any sort of business advice. She tells you how to create an eBay shop, how to write a cover letter (she says not to brag about yourself in your cover letter, but oddly enough that’s all she does in the book), and how to steal clothing. Seriously. I’m so glad I now know that I should spell-check my resume — groundbreaking advice!

I have nothing personally against Amoruso or her company, Nasty Gal. Their clothes are cute. Sort of slutty and grungy, and not different than what any other company is doing, but still cute. I admire any woman who runs her own business and has a no-bullshit attitude, and Amoruso does fit that description. I really looked forward to reading — and enjoying — the book, but I just didn’t. Don’t waste your money on this one.

Have you read Girl Boss? What did you think?

12 Comments

  1. I could never bring myself to read this because she seems to be that girl. Girls that I’m oh so familiar with in South Florida, they don’t really work hard or have job but somehow are bosses. I was never impressed with her story either because I am familiar with a couple women with very successful online stores. So after reading your review I know I will never read that book for sure.

  2. I love your review!! Every review I have read has been like, “She is so awesome” “She is so inspiring”, etc. etc. I love your honest, real review. I thought about reading it. I am so not wasting my time with this one!

  3. Ouch! Although I appreciate your very candid and honest review. I have zero intentions of reading this simply because it doesn’t interest me.

  4. I like the book. I thought it came from a sincere place, but I also like motivational “get up and go” books. I think telling young girls that even if you’ve been slacking off, that doesn’t have to be your whole identity and at any time you can start really working hard. It isn’t a jam packed how to guide and it does have some fluff and highly promotes the brand. I read it really quickly and I felt pumped up at the end – but I love bios. AND all the quotes she uses are great – and I’m a quotes junkie.

  5. I was also really looking forward to reading this book. It was showing up all over my instagram feed, and I thought “I need that! I’m a Girlboss too! Sounds great!”

    Typically, with a good book, I like to indulge, take things slow and digest every word, but I found myself reading this so fast. At first I felt proud, like dang, I am reading this book fast! But then I realized I was almost at the end and had learned nothing. I kept waiting for the good part to kick in. Maybe it’s on the next page. I read on. I tried. I really did. Just like you, I found no redeeming chapter, paragraph, or epiphany of awesome advice. I also thought “This girl sounds like a wreck! …And that’s okay. I’m a wreck too sometimes, but uh….. Where’s the part about actually being a Girlboss? Not just a woman who has a bunch of employees.”

    I had no idea who Sophia Amoruso was before I picked up this book. In fact, I had never heard of NastyGal. If I had, I probably dismissed it because I personally find the title displeasing. Nonetheless, yes, the clothes are cute, I guess, though not exactly my style. Regardless, I kept thinking, “Uh… What’s the catch? Where’s the crescendo? Where’s the advice I could apply to my own business? Where the inspiration?”

    I guess this is all just good marketing. I’ll give her that. Great photo. Great title. Good use of a hahstag that really caught on. But terrible advice. Terrible storytelling. And terribly overdramatic narcissism.

    When someone writes a real book about being a badass girlboss, please let me know. I’m very interested and will be happy to join and support the girlboss community.

    If anyone’s interested in reading this book, let me know. I’ll send you my copy.

  6. I think her main point is that when you feel lost, don’t! if you’re unhappy you just might not be where you are supposed to be in life, and instead of accepting defeat and giving up use the area of your life that you enjoy and role with it. She continued to discuss how she felt like she was born in the wrong decade, so what did she do? she created a company with her own decade – and now others want to be there too. I get she talked about her successes a lot … but I would be proud of myself too if I came from dumpster diving to doing interviews for Elle Magazine. I think you were extremely harsh in your review, and sometimes unnecessarily rude. Your review doesn’t much come across as a review – more like a bully trying to put someone down. You might not feel like she is an inspiration or you might not have felt inspired, but hey maybe thats because you’re already where you’re supposed to be – or you’re just boring. Every person I have spoken to who has read this book has loved it, because its comical, relatable, and truly brings light to anyone’s situation when they feel as if they are in the dark.

  7. I wouldn’t read it, because, everything about the cover screams right out “This is self promotion and I will sell my self respect and pretend power to get your attention.”

    Maybe I’m reading too much into the pink and white, and the use of the word girl and the obvious attempt at sex appeal .. but, I’m still not reading any of the book. And, if I had ever thought of doing so, the watching of the trailer for the NF Original based on it would have cured me of any such notion.

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