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The case for the Goldilocks Girl
You can be a #snailgirlsenior later. A guest essay from Eva Goicochea.
Today’s essay is by Eva Goicochea, the founder of maude, an inclusive modern sexual wellness company. In her spare time, Eva collects old books, rescues shih tzus and Persian cats, and gives both unsolicited & solicited advice to strangers and friends.
When I was 14, I convinced a woman who owned a coffee shop to give me a job. She said I could wash dirty cups. Then maybe, I could move up and make dirty chai lattes. My first check came in. Freedom, I thought.
I grew up in New Mexico in the 1980s. My single mom—herself the daughter of a mother with four master’s degrees and no financial help—made life work as an art teacher by day and graduate student by night, bettering our future while I read books in the corner of her classroom. On the weekends, my mom and I would always go to the mineral pools at Ojo Caliente to dip our feet in the warm water and eat sandwiches we packed.
To my mother, hard work and convivial play coexisted; one fed and financed the other. She lived in a world without social media, free from the looking glass that fosters daydreams of far-off pots of gold. She was simply happy to live in a time and place where she could work and get an education, and no man had to co-sign for her Spa Saturday credit. Women of her time—the late ‘80s— were byproducts of Melanie Griffith’s Working Girl era, brimming with gumption and the cleverness to advance one’s station in life. Outfitted in power suits, they were modern women writing their own destinies with their own paychecks. For most of my childhood, it was a badge of honor I waited years to wear.
But now, as a forty-something-year-old with a startup that closes every evening at 6pm, I’ve observed a concerning pendulum swing over the last few decades. First, the aforementioned blazer-wearing Murphy Browns of the 1980s morphed into the ‘90s era of Friends, where everyone seemed to have a low-paying job but an enormous loft (unrelated: RIP Matthew Perry). Then, as we entered the 2000 and 2010s, we witnessed the craze of female founders gracing the covers of Forbes. Fast forward to today, and our screens are flooded with post-Covid TikToks, where #lazygirls celebrate life at a snail’s pace. While resting is needed and good, I think there’s a very big case to be made for appreciating the middle ground—particularly for the majority of us without wealthy partners or the safety net of a trust fund (#blessed).
Since the 1980s, there have been four recessions and we’re on the brink of another. Women occupy only 8% of the CEO chairs in America and, on average, make 15% less money than our male counterparts. Those numbers, of course, are so much worse for women of color. In our new work-from-home era, we’re passed up for promotions without the benefit of face time, fighting against a wage gap that hasn’t changed over the last 15 years. Interestingly, studies show that there’s a common notion among GenZers that they will be able to retire at 60 with $1.2 million. The reality is much harsher; If you live to 100 years old, with a budget of only $4,000 per month to spend, you will need to retire with $4 million. You read that right.
Here’s the thing: The yo-yo effect of championing a precarious generation of girlbosses to now encouraging the “soft girl” ethos of at-home hibernation is unproductive. Neither of these extremes provide a tenable path forward to what we all really want, which is financial independence and freedom. No amount of sitting in sweats on TikTok (guilty) and hoping a bag of money falls through the ceiling is going to fix the reality of needing to pay for the said ceiling. So in the immortal words of Jewel, “Who will save your (bank account’s) soul?” The answer, of course, is us.
Working, and more importantly, not shrinking away, is mission critical to the future of female equity. To succeed, we must step into the next era of the work heroine: The Goldilocks Girl. Who is the Goldilocks Girl? She feels no guilt when it comes to a good couch rot on the weekends, but she has enough time in the evenings to feed herself whatever girl dinner she wants, funded by equal pay during work hours. She is equilibrium. She has fair and rewarding opportunities in her professional pursuits, and once at the top, she makes no concessions for being a balanced boss. She is not operating at hyper-speed, about to crash, nor is she stuck in park. She embodies the overused but always prescient, Virginia Woolfe quote:
“A woman needs money and a room of her own if she is to be able to write fiction."
Recently, I texted my mom to ask about her week’s plans. She’s now a retiree with a job—she calls her paycheck her “weekend money.” She followed up by saying, “There’s a big marketing push for the bookstore this week, I am going to the balloon fiesta with my friends, and I’m going to do some gardening.” Maybe one day she’ll be a #snailgirlsenior, but for now, she is the original, unfettered Goldilocks Girl: the toughness of a Tuesday and the spirit of a Saturday.
I love that for her. And us.
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