Girlboss, Cancellation, Fashion, Podcasts

Girlboss, Cancellation

The Girlboss Apologia Era Is Upon Us

Last month’s Leandra Medine interview on ‘The Cutting Room Floor’ offers a glimpse into the new comeback playbook for female founders.

8/4/2021 5:06:00 AM

Last month’s Leandra Medine interview on 'The Cutting Room Floor' offers a glimpse into the new comeback playbook for female founders.

Last month’s Leandra Medine interview on ‘The Cutting Room Floor’ offers a glimpse into the new comeback playbook for female founders.

Recho Omondilisteners found to be anti-Semitic, prompting an edited rerelease of the episode days later. The promised part two of the interview has since been delayed twice and still has yet to materialize.Whether or not the long-awaited part two comes along, the delay has already proven how fraught the road is for those girlbosses who are attempting second acts via their requisite apologies. Medine, who last summer faced criticism along with her media company, Man Repeller, for her alleged performative solidarity with Black lives, stepped down in June 2020; the outlet briefly rebranded as Repeller without her and eventually shuttered that October. Ostensibly, Medine was on the fashion podcast to discuss what she’d learned since her “cancellation rite of passage.” Over 87 minutes—the final of three interview attempts, we were told by Omondi, who also caveated right off the bat, “I don’t like this episode”—Medine attempted to embark on a journey of redemptive self-castigation.

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“I’m not surprised that people have had bad experiences at Man Repeller, but I don’t think this is because I’m a racist,” Medine said early in the interview, adding, “I’m an equal opportunity asshole. I sucked as a leader.”As far as the old girlboss maxims go—admitting you’re not perfect, insisting on personal growth—it was an admission that read almost admirably frank. And there were points where Medine offered up her vulnerability so directly that it was not hard to be sympathetic: On the cancellation, she described having a trauma response and alluded to thoughts of self-harm; on the burden of being an influencer-cum-CEO with a “super-codependent relationship” with her 10-year-old company, she sounded genuinely miserable. (How codependent? Medine admitted that she only got back together with her now husband after she started the site, as he suddenly saw her “as this, like, attractive, independent woman.”)

On their own these admissions could be worth further excavation within the larger contexts of influencer burnout, the realities of the media industry, or our tendency as a society to equate work to worth. But the interview sidestepped a bigger question: What

hasLeandra Medine learned? The closest we got to an answer came via an earful about her rich-but-not-mega-rich childhood demarcated by feeling othered via her Iranian-Turkish heritage and Jewish identity on the Upper East Side, which admittedly does wrinkle the white-villain template often applied to the #Girlboss downfall story.

That isn’t to say Medine’s issues don’t matter; she talked about the guilt she has wrestling with these questions, wondering if she’s allowed “any version of adversity” amidst a time of societal upheaval and systemic inequality. At the end of the day, it’s both clear that Medine was ill-equipped to run a media company purporting to elevate “all voices”—and that Medine is still unaware of the depths of her privilege. Is it possible that Medine was truly that oblivious and tone-deaf, to have had three chances to explain herself on this podcast and instead fumble her way into self-pity over being unable to befriend former employees and that “I thought I was poor” pull quote for the ages? Or was this all a calculated

positioning statementfrom a savvy influencer in the vein of a job candidate who, when asked about her greatest weakness, thinks pulling the perfectionist card is still the move? (Medine’s claim that she was obsessed with having employee satisfaction be 100% is textbook girlbossian.)

That Omondi and the podcast received backlash for anti-Semitic remarks proves the thorniness of privilege as a casual podcast topic (in the original version of the episode, Omondi called Medine a “Jewish American Princess,” adding, “At the end of the day, you guys are going to get your nose jobs and your keratin treatments and change your last name from Ralph Lifshitz to

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