Women's Health South Africa
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Image Credit: Women's Health South Africa
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Image Credit: Women's Health South Africa

Mind Your Language

Loud and proud boss babe? Vocal about your #ladieswholift gains? Cutesy terms to denote women’s strength, power and status have crept into our conversations. As research suggests the way you talk about yourself could be sabotaging your progress, we ask if it’s time for this rhetoric to get a rebrand

When Alice Ojeda quit her well-paid marketing job to start her own eco-friendly subscription-box service, she couldn’t wait to be her own boss. She had money saved in a dedicated business account, a network of contacts to call upon and a watertight business plan. By way of celebrating her bold new move, a friend bought her a notebook as a gift – because nothing says “new start” like stationery. “It was black, with ‘Girl Boss’ emblazoned in glittery silver lettering,” she recalls. “I thought it was playful, empowering even and just the thing for filling with ideas.”

The 26-year-old soon got into the habit of taking it into meetings with other sustainable-business founders she hoped to collaborate with. But as the weeks wore on, and the notes she’d written evolved into plans, she began to sense a certain... Vibe. Directed not towards her burgeoning enterprise, but at the notebook she was using to document it. “I’d catch people looking at it with bemused expressions and I began surreptitiously hiding it in meetings. Then I started outright apologising, explaining that it wasn’t me who’d bought it.” It was only a matter of time before the gift was consigned to the recycling bin.

“Girl boss” isn’t the only well-meaning phrase that leaves a millennial-pink trail in its wake. Start to listen out for these diminutions and you can’t un


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