Anshu Pokharel
HustlerGirl Boss Culture The Cause of Depression

I’d just finished the book #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso and I’d just bought a Kate Spade “Like a book” tumbler from Marshalls for a steal. So, consequently, I started thinking… how did Kate Spade obtain a reputation for selling such quality and luxury products? So, I did what a normal human does: I googled it.

The second I looked up “Kate Spade” on google, I noticed her continuous happy-go-lucky aesthetic that her brand always promoted (of course, always with a hefty price tag). As I scrolled down, I couldn’t help but feel ignorant for not knowing that Kate Spade had passed away in June of 2018 — at 55. But, she was so young. What could have happened?

My mind immediately went to a horrible sickness that took her away from us this early. But, what I saw was not the result of a sickness I was expecting. Suicide — oh. This was shocking to me for many reasons. First, no matter how unfair, I fail to see celebrities as human. Someone with all that money and resources and influence taking their own life? Why?

Second, and the most important for this generation, Kate Spade lived the life #BossBabe’s and #Hustler’s promoted. You know, the whole #BossBabe lifestyle posts that are constantly showing up on your Instagram page? The ones that promote financial independence, being your own boss, having influence, etc. Kate Spade had it all: a business she owned and controlled with her husband (worth 2 billion dollars), financial freedom and the ability to buy all the luxuries in the world— exactly how the #BossBabe lifestyle defines happiness was all within Kate Spade. So, what went wrong?

Now, not everything about this BossBabe narrative is toxic. But, the one part that is: the obsessive focus on money signifying the end goal. The focus on workaholism, toxic productivity and the non-stop, day and night “grind” that supposedly brings joy and happiness. This brings me to another Instagram trend that, this time, is aimed towards men: The hustler culture. The promotion techniques and the message is very similar among these narratives: they both promote financial independence, an obsessive focus on money, putting money over relationships, and finally — happiness being caused by money. The #GirlBoss narrative and this “screw 9–5, screw sleep, grind 24/7” narrative ultimately result in the same thing: depression.

Here are some facts & stats: individuals who routinely put in over 11-hour days more than twofold their odds of depression. An assortment of hereditary, physical, and enthusiastic variables can make an individual helpless against depression. In the work environment, the drawn-out pressure felt by individuals with extended periods of time is one of the contributing variables to major depression and stress.

In the generation that constantly promotes #Hustler and #GirlBoss culture, these overworked individuals are glorified through social media for aspiring entrepreneurs. The reason for that may be because we see billionaires like Elon Musk pulling 100 hours a week and, unsurprisingly, we want to be Elon Musk. We want to be Grant Cardone so we work 95 hours a week. We want to be Bill Gates. We want to be Kate Spade..right?

Hustler culture promotes the destruction of mental health simultaneously while working for your passions. But, the “working for your passions” part is often trumped by money. This narrative undermines one huge aspect of billionaires and millionaires: their passions trumped money.

Money is the biggest motivator in these two narratives; whereas, the people these posts admire and use as backgrounds for their “motivational quotes” do not work 100 hours a week for money. They work 100 hours because they love what they do. Elon Musk does not value Ivy League degrees or pretentious certifications, he values passion. Money as your primary motivation will leave you empty, restless and shallow. An obsession you have, a strong desire you have to create something and relentlessly work on it, will naturally bring hard work out of you. Warren Buffett still lives in Nebraska and drives a car he bought in 1958; he picks up shifts at Dairy Queen with Bill Gates; yet, he was quoted saying “I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.” So, why doesn’t he flaunt his riches? Because—he did not work for money, he worked for a passion that just so happened to be to learn the market. He was passionate about being the jack-of-all-trades. He did not stack up billions simply to stack up billions. That is what these narratives need to focus on to promote a healthier lifestyle: work towards a topic you adore and hard-work will come naturally. Money is not the primary goal.

Finally, we’re going back to Kate Spade. Although Kate Spade’s reason for suicide is not clear — we know a little about why and how this action occurred. Spade’s sister had told The Star: “she was always a very excitable little girl and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand (KS) may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive.” When your work turns out to be a burden, passions turn toxic. The passion Spade had for her company had turned into the “image” she had to preserve. Her colorful, always positive brand would be tarnished if she would seek help for her mental health; that is why she never got treatment for her depressive episodes. Focusing on work and money and image will never bring you inner satisfaction. The work you do, you have to enjoy — that will bring happiness, glory, and positivity.

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