• Lyla Trilling and Gabe Garon

Was That a Girlboss Slay?

Updated: Feb 28

Affirmative


By Gabe Garon.


If that wasn’t a girlboss slay, I sure as hell don’t know what is. There I was, in the middle of a team meeting at Arbola—the CEO described the startup to me during my interview as “Airbnb, but for trees”—sitting on an artisanal beanbag chair and daydreaming. I was contemplating how the floor of the SoHo building I found myself in was a pediatric oncology wing—or, rather, it used to be a pediatric oncology wing until WeWork bought it four years ago and forced the hospital to move to the landfill part of Staten Island. Such is life! My thoughts had just turned to my Robin Hood stocks (my most successful were in BP and Tesla) when, all of a sudden, Kharleigh loudly cleared her throat. “Excuse me, everyone!” she announced. “Can I have everyone’s attention, please? Eyes on me? That means you, Dan. I just wanted to let you all know that I have to briefly leave this meeting in order to make a deposit in the ladies’ room. Yeah, that’s right—girls poop, too! Sorry to make all you sexist little pigs uncomfortable! Oh wait—I’m not sorry!”


My mouth was agape. I was new to the company—it was only the first week of my internship—and I’d never seen someone lean in with such grit, tenacity, and conviction. By the end of her announcement, she was at a 45-degree angle that would have made both Sheryl Sandberg and Michael Jackson swoon. Then she darted across the open-concept office floor, her pristinely white vegan leather sneakers glinting in the mid-morning sun. As she passed the organic ancient grains cereal bar, she briefly glanced at the metal scoop before ignoring it in favor of her bare, unwashed right hand, hurriedly shoving a handful of the deep brown, earthy-smelling cheerio knockoffs into her mouth and dropping most of them on the floor. “She’s so confident,” I muttered to myself. I was entranced. I had to follow her. I dashed into the bathroom a few moments after her, sliding past the door she’d brashly flung wide open—as if for me, as if for all women, everywhere. I walked silently across the tile floor, opened the stall door next to hers, sat on the toilet seat, and drew my legs up to my chest so they couldn’t be seen through the gap under the stall. 

Illustration by Mwandeyi Kamwendo

Then, her iPhone 12 (encased in a Kamala Harris phone case with nevertheless, she persisted inscribed in cursive) rang. The ringtone I immediately identified as Hillary Clinton’s recorded voice, coyly prodding, “Kharleigh! Pick up the phone! Khaaaaarleigh!” I was taken aback for a second, partly because of Hillary’s dulcet tones and partly because I could just tell that Hillary was spelling Kharleigh’s name correctly, even in speech. I then remembered that Dan had told me three days prior that Hillary (Aunty Hill, as Kharleigh liked to call her) was Kharleigh’s godmother, and her parents shared a condo in Tulum with Hill and Bill.


Kharleigh picked up the phone and put it on speaker. “Hello? Jacklynne! Hey! No, I’m not busy—just taking a little dump. I hope you don’t mind—kidding! I don’t care if you mind! I just read a Goop article that said taking phone calls on the toilet reduces the risk of getting cancer. All the radiation or whatever. Something about the tile. Or maybe the porcelain? But you have to watch out for prolapses. OK, you caught me, it was a tweet, not an article. And I only got halfway through. I’m a busy lady, what can I say! Anyways, what’s up? Holy shit—hold on, my jade yoni egg just popped out.”


I held my breath, my head pressed against the plastic stall divider, as I listened to the sound of her fishing around in the bowl for the lost yoni egg.


“Oop–uh . . . OOH, okay—”


I watched a few not-quite-cheerios clatter to the floor as she wiggled around on the toilet seat.


“Almost there . . . ooOOhH . . . HA! There we go. Back inside! Anyways, back to your startup idea. I mean, I love it. It reaches a completely untapped market. There’s a HUGE demand for sustainable, body-positive lingerie for small to mid-size dogs. And I love the designs! Did you steal them from Instagram? That’s what I did for my line of business-casual crop tops.”

She’s incredible, I whispered to myself. I quietly stood up on the toilet seat and surreptitiously peeked over into her stall. I watched her gesticulating wildly, an impressive number of the not-quite-cheerios still cupped in her right hand.


“All you’ll need to get the ball rolling on this is a solid elevator pitch for an angel investor. I could set up a meeting for you with my friend O.J.—yeah, O.J. Simpson! He’s actually a really lovely guy. Ooh, or maybe my friend Chris from Yale! Yeah, the one who was involved with Fyre Fest! She just made a whole bunch of money but won’t tell me where it’s from. I wanna say . . . arms deals? Either way, she’s looking to invest. Anyways, I gotta go. Need a free hand to wipe. I’ll call you later, though! And we should totally get lunch soon.”


She hung up, took a glance at the toilet paper, and scoffed. “Three-ply? Please. What am I, a fucking intern? Good thing I brought my own.” She shoveled the remaining handful of cheerio-adjacents into her mouth, sprinkled the rest between her legs into the porcelain bowl, then pulled out the most pillowy, silky roll of toilet paper I’d ever seen. And as I squinted at it I realized she had printed her resume onto it in Garamond Bold. She wiped a few times (back to front, of course) stood up, and flushed. I ducked my head back into my own stall. I listened to her wash her hands and leave. I stayed for a few moments in the stall, awestruck by her ability to make even her excrement smell like Santal 33. Then I rushed back to the reclaimed wood table, eager to hear her presentation on the company’s holiday partnership with Halliburton. 


Negative


By Lyla Trilling.


Did you get my singing telegram? The one where the woman dressed head to toe in fast-fashion athleisure painfully whines out the lyrics to any Dua Lipa song? Merry agnostic holiday, you are officially on the Naughty List! You leaned too far into corporate feminism and as a girlboss, you absolutely did not slay.


I’m no True Jackson VP, but I know a girlboss slay when I see one. Anne Hathaway “coincidentally” acting in the two greatest makeover scenes in cinematic history (and no, you freaks, I’m not talking about the Les Mis haircut scene)? Slay. Operating a successful Depop shop where you call all your buyers “love” and tag your clothes as Prada for “exposure?” Slay. Michelle Williams playing “Jen” in Dawson’s Creek and then 13 years later “Randi” in Manchester by the Sea, proving herself the most versatile actress to ever walk the red carpet? Slay. Being the Bachelorette? Major slay.


There’s a huge difference between a girlboss, and a girlboss who slays. A girlboss wins an Oscar for directing—a girlboss who slays gets nominated for an Oscar but never wins because her films are too emotionally raw and esoteric, and the Academy doesn’t have the youthful eye to understand the work she’s done, so she is reductively branded an “indie darling” even though her films are much more complex than that. A girlboss tags the brand of every article of clothing she’s wearing in her inaugural “winter” post. A girlboss who slays doesn’t need to tag the brand, because you already know what it is and, if you don’t, you’ve spent enough time on Pinterest “Aritzia style inspo” mood boards to have a general idea of where it’s from. A girlboss gets a minor-but-noticeable rhinoplasty. A girlboss who slays watches Beverly Hills cosmetic surgery videos on repeat—internalizing the life-changing effects of a “gummy smile reduction” surgery— just to reaffirm that her teeth-to-gum ratio is already perfect. Kharleigh is a girlboss, and nobody can deny that absolute fact. But does she slay? No, and here’s why.

Illustration by Mwandeyi Kamwendo

Girls don’t poop. It’s a known fact that no girl has ever pooped. Margaret Thatcher did it one time—but only because she hates women. We’ve been living in the shadow of her mistake ever since. So when Kharleigh performatively declared that she had to make a “deposit,” what she really meant was that she had to call Chase bank to install a check from Charles Schwab’s annual Women in Business Conference, where she was the star panelist. And yes, Jacklynn, it was a big freaking dump—because if there is one thing we know for certain about girlbosses, it’s that they are absolutely addicted to the exact system that pays them 81 cents to every male dollar. Father capitalism is every girlboss’ best friend.


As for the Notorious RBG phone case, a true girlboss would never jeopardize her relationship with leftist podcasters like that. Twitter would destroy her—though, of course, they already have. Just look up “Zara-clad corporate female actively engages in neoliberal Biggie Smalls erasure.” Have you seen Meghlanie’s phone case? Now that is a girlboss slay. A simple, matte black case with the name “Amal Clooney” printed over it in matte black letters, so you can only see it if you are really looking (and you are). Sometimes I see Meghlanie in the breakroom with the guys—she’s talking about basketball and flawlessly switching between playoff highlights and that new Lena Dunham show she’s been watching. “But don’t worry, boys,” she throws in. “She only produced it.”


That’s the main difference between Meghlanie (a slaying girlboss) and Kharleigh (a regular girlboss). Nobody doubts that Meghlanie is a guy’s girl, but Kharleigh has to frequently prove herself to our humble little WeWork floor by telling us that “they are just less drama!” and “they love to have her around” because of her “laid back attitude” and “positive mindset.” A quick vibe check reveals that Karleigh is nowhere near laid back—she’s so tightly wound (though apparently not enough to rule out vaginal strengthening tools) that even her toilet paper needs to signal to the world that she worked at a few modest-but-prestigious production companies before her turn to corporate life.


Wake up, Kharleigh: only girls who freelance for Glossier’s beauty blog still wear Santal 33.


#December2020

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