Boss versus Bawse: A Review of Lilly Singh's 'How to be a Bawse'

The term ‘Bawse’ is not a term you would expect to read in a book. You might hear someone say it but would think of it as ‘boss’ and nothing more. YouTuber Lilly Singh—or ||Superwoman|| as she is known—begs to differ. To her, a ‘bawse’ is “epic” and does not survive life, but conquers it. Her first book How to be a Bawse offers ideas, practical advice, and insights from her own life that have brought her from being a psychology student to a world famous YouTube star. With over 13 million subscribers (at last count), gender equality campaigns and relatable songs under her belt, Lilly shares the lessons she’s learnt from life over the years in this book, and how anyone can become a bawse, with no shortcuts.



The book is divided into four parts, with a total of fifty chapters. Each chapter contains a different piece of advice, with fandom references, featured comments from Lilly’s videos, and a conversation between the reader and Lilly herself. If you’re familiar with Lilly’s videos (as I am), you’re likely to find yourself reading the book in her voice. How to be a Bawse combines Lilly’s online presence as a YouTuber along with her experiences. It’s not always possible to write the same way you speak, but Lilly comes as close to it as she can.

There are no soft words or “lucky charms” in the book - after an introduction to help you settle in, each chapter gets straight to the point. While the ideas aren’t necessarily novel, the way they’re presented is. It’s not all “do this, then do that, and remember X and Y”. It blends definitions, life, a little humor, and some really clear lines between plans. You don’t get to go scot-free either; occasionally, there’s a section at the end of a chapter called “Let’s Work”, where you, as the reader, work on what Lilly has been talking about so far, and further explore how you can implement it in your own life. She provides suggestions in the chapter itself, but “Let’s Work” is a good way to make sure something stays with you after you are done reading. Lilly encourages the readers to go beyond being a boss, and how becoming a ‘bawse’ has far more advantages.



By far the most hitting chapters of the book are the four ‘Out of the Blue’ sections at the end of each part. As a young adult, Lilly struggled with depression and hit rock bottom, but eventually emerged stronger and happier. ‘Out of the Blue’ looks at her life during depression and post-depression, as a reminder that she’s not a divine being who magically recovered, but someone who has faced many of the struggles her readers have. In fact, the book is dedicated to the person she was all those years ago, the girl who probably needed this book the most.



How to be a Bawse reminds us readers, and Team Super, as Lilly calls her fans that Lilly Singh is ||Superwoman||, but it works the other way around too. A bawse doesn’t just appear from nowhere but grows through a strong work ethic, passion and vision, remembering your foundations, and sometimes just owning how fabulous you are as Lilly does in each photo preceding a new chapter. Even then, we remember that the glamour of the photoshoot is preceded by storyboarding, having a concrete plan, logistics and dozens of staff members to help out. Perhaps that’s why the photos are there; to remind us that beneath the fabulous bawse is a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and even smiles. What Lilly shares in her book is hard-hitting, but so is life.


Edited by Priyanka Shankar

Photographic content curated by Sanjna Mishra