She’s awake at 5am for matcha and pilates, followed by journaling, an ‘everything’ shower and a 10-step skincare routine.
She picks out expensive brown trousers from her colour coordinated wardrobe, and pairs them with a crisp white shirt, high heels, and the Marc Jacobs tote bag. Her hair is glossy from rosemary oil, and on her face she’s wearing nothing more than concealer, brow gel and mascara. She strikes a pose at the camera before picking up her MacBook and leaving her aesthetic apartment for work. She’ll be home later to edit the ‘Get Ready With Me’ video filmed that morning for TikTok.
This is the corporate girlie, a persona du jour that has been dominating corners of social media over the last year. She is the token of hustle culture; think Hamptons and Birkins meet city high-rise and 60 hour weeks. While Gen Z are often considered the founders of quiet quitting, the corporate girlie is a sharp contrast, proudly capitalist, embracing the corporate world, always productive, and always on the grind.
But what caused this trend to take off in the first place? At a time when corporate industries are facing layoffs, and the cost of living continues to rear its ugly head, is the corporate girlie simply immune to economic collapse?
We aren’t too sure.
Selling a dream
Despite the draw to be ‘authentic’ online, corporate girlies sell a dream of fraudulent positivity and career envy. The intoxicating notion that you’re not ‘working hard enough’ is as guilt-inducing as any heavily photoshopped bikini picture, something that has perhaps contributed to the ‘lazy girl job’ phenomenon – where young women let go of that corporate guilt and focus on life outside of work.
But with the #corporategirlies hashtag sitting at 319.4 million views (July 2023), ‘girlbossing’ is hardly going out of style. And you can see why when only 23% of women hold executive positions globally. Fighting to increase that number is not easy, let alone with a predicted recession this year. Some young women still want to hustle for that high-paid corporate job, regardless of economic downfall.
The corporate girlie trend may look seductive, but it’s far from reality. The truth is, not many people can achieve such an extreme level of productivity without feeling burnout. Hidden behind an enticing illusion is a group of people probably feeling just as tired and exploited as those who aren’t a member of the club. Corporate girlies romantacise their lives, but at what cost? Are the early starts, traditional work ideals and potentially toxic environments worth it?
Female empowerment vs an unrealistic standard
Whispers of toxicity entwined with female empowerment is one of the biggest taboos faced by the corporate girlie trend.
Sure, being a girlboss is proving centuries of sexism wrong; that women don’t belong in the home and are more than capable of achieving the same things as their male counterparts. But while the corporate girlie may have started with female empowerment, the final product is a toxic concoction that only the most elite are invited to consume.
There is an acute pressure for young women to overperform on social media. If wearing perfect clothes, living in the perfect apartment, eating the perfect diet and socialising every night isn’t enough, you also have to work your 60 hour week and document it all on online.
It’s more than just having a perfect body. The corporate girlie must have the perfect life.
What does this tell the next generation who are entering the workplace? Is it ok that a 21-year-old graduate is being sold an unrealistic corporate dream through their social media feed?
Corporate life can be exciting and rewarding, and any ‘girlboss’ should feel proud of their achievements. But the platitude of a 30 second TikTok video is far from reality. We ask young women to think carefully when consuming corporate girlie content. The women you view online probably don’t have a flawless life. Look behind the clothes, bags, MacBooks and iced matcha. The truth is likely to be far from perfect.