I recently moved to a new apartment, and came across a pile of vintage purses I had hoarded back when magazines kept encouraging shoppers to mix fashion pieces with “interesting” second hand finds. Now, I love purses — I have a pretty healthy (or toxic, depending on whether you share a closet with me) collection. But the real reason my vintage collection was so purse heavy is because I simply couldn’t fit into any of the clothes off the rack.
This was on my mind constantly as I watched Girlboss, Netflix’s latest binge-watch starring Britt Robertson as a pseudo-Sophia Amoruso (in the series, her last name is Marlowe), founder of Nasty Gal, who got her start selling vintage clothes on E-Bay. Even as I got caught up in Sophia’s lightning rise to success, messy love life, and indomitable spirit, something kept nagging at me: I could never wear those clothes.
Boho chic implies loose, floaty silhouettes that drape oh-so-casually on waif-like limbs, a look that flatters exactly 0.0032 percent of the female population whose last name is not Olsen. There is almost no chance of me wandering into a cute consignment shop and walking out with an impossibly cool 1970s biker jacket that magically turns me into Anita Pallenberg, as Sophia does in the very first episode. My size 10 feet curl up at the mere thought of being squeezed into pre-standard shoe size sky-high platforms. And those high-waisted flares straight out of Cher’s Sonny-era closet? Dare to dream. (Note: This is my experience. If you have managed to snag a fabulous Dior jacket in a non sample-size during a vintage spree, I salute you, and we should talk.)
Most of the show is actually shockingly relatable — the struggle to figure out what you want out of life is something most millennials are all too familiar with. But as I watched Sophia selling item and after item that I knew I would never, ever be able to wear (a prairie dress slashed and converted into a belted robe isn’t easy to pull off unless you’re a certain body type), I just felt sad. Aren’t we over the trope that cool = skinny?
I grant you that this is based on a true story, and therefore had to work with real world material. Britt Robertson’s performance is funny and powerful. But as we are reminded at the beginning of each episode, this is “a loose retelling of true events. Real loose.” Couldn’t some of that loosening have gone towards breaking down one of the most pernicious female stereotypes?
This isn’t to knock the spirit of Girlboss. The show’s feminist message, based on Amoruso’s best-selling book and adapted for television by Kay Cannon, is that all women can look as badass as they feel. If you dream big and go big, you’ll win big. Not to mention that it’s a really fun show to watch (if you can get over the first two episodes in which Sophia is just insufferable), all …