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“I survived the Gainesville plague,” read the Instagram post. “My friends and I sent that around and we all talked about it because everyone started to get sick in Gainesville,” freshman Jasmine Glover said. “I definitely did, and so did my mom when she came up for parents’ weekend.”

Glover is referring to the post created by UF Girlboss Club, a Gainesville-based meme page with over 5,000 followers. The account is administered by two University of Florida students, M and S, or Meagan Valliere, 19, and Sabrina, who is still semi-anonymous. On Sept. 12, the account owners ran their first public event, a picnic, where followers, or “boss babes,” met up at the Plaza of the Americas.

“We just wanted to have a get-together where people could meet each other and meet us,” Valliere said. “That’s exactly what happened. They also were able to pick up stickers if they ordered them. I would say a couple hundred people came. It was pretty magical.”

The picnic ran for two hours, where boss babes could converse on blankets, eat food and meet fellow followers. Though this was the first UF Girlboss outing, it was not the first time Valliere had removed her anonymity.

“When we hit 2.5K, I revealed my identity and my personal account. Before that, Sabrina and I had done an Instagram Live to tease people. That’s also where we dropped our personals for people that came. It was maybe 30 people. The picnic is where I met a lot more people.”

Before Sabrina joined, Valliere started the Instagram page in March with another friend.

“We were both kind of going through it, and we looked on Twitter and there was this meme that was like Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss, and we were like “oh my god it’s so funny that this idea of success was being used in this backward, feminist way.”

Eventually, the other administrator was no longer interested in continuing the account, but Valliere knew that there was something deeper they had yet to tap into.

“I expected it to get some kind of popularity, maybe a couple thousand followers but now we surpassed 5K. I’m just grateful people think the account’s funny and want to share it and follow it.”

Valliere voiced that she was inspired by UF Virginity, another meme page whose first post popped up on Dec. 13. Since then, UF meme and parody accounts have spread rapidly. Some accounts feature characters whose owners photograph them around campus, like UF Gnome, while others showcase a variety of one niche item found in Gainesville, like Cats of UF or UF Pasta.

No matter the account, there is a common ground rooted in humor among followers. What sets UF Girlboss apart is its unique, comedic and real content.

“As a whole, a lot of the posts are intended to be funny and not always be taken seriously. But they do end up touching on a lot of topics that are serious such as sex positivity, self-love, LGBTQ+ issues, feminism, and all that,” Clare Meyers, a biology freshman, said.

One fan favorite is UF Girlboss of the Week. In this series, the administrators use a random generator to choose a boss babe and their quote that will be featured on the account. Interactivity like this allows followers to feel like they contribute to the page, ultimately creating a community.

“It’s an inside joke type culture, so people who get the joke understand each other and therefore people are friends with each other,” Valliere explained.

The attention gained from UF Girlboss is both positive and harmful for the 19-year-old music composition major. Despite growing her fanbase on a platform that does deal with feminist issues, Valliere has her fair share of male mistreatment.

“I’ve definitely gotten some creepy men that think they’re entitled to my time because I run this page. One of these men actually showed up to my workplace. I told him I have a boyfriend, and I do. It wasn’t a lie. Thank god I locked the place up and he [couldn’t] get in.”

Such instances are alarming reminders that online spaces for women are just that: online. UF Girlboss is a meme page, but it is still a sacred, womanly space that can be unfortunately infiltrated by malicious men. Still, Valliere looks toward the future in which she and Sabrina have big plans for Gainesville boss babes.

“I’m actually doing a live music show Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. at The Bull. I’ll be performing. A lot of people wanted to come and see me sing,” Valliere said. “Sabrina and I are working on having an announcement for a costume picnic, a get-together, for Halloween.”

Hear it here first, boss babes. The UF Girlboss Club has so much left in store. As for farther in the future, there is much still left in the air.

“I’m definitely not gonna do it forever. It would be kind of weird. I’m like 30 and running UF Girlboss,” Valliere said. “What I would do is probably set up some sort of procedure where when someone graduates you find someone younger, and you run the account with them.”

In the meantime, “M” likes to bask in the best that being a UF Girlboss administrator provides: posting. “When you make posts and you see it do really, really well you see a lot of people laughing at it, you see a lot of people’s days get made because of something you did.”

Lauren Brensel is a freshman Journalism major at the University of Florida. She enjoys writing entertainment and identity pieces, and is trying her hand at screenwriting, too. You can find other stories by Brensel here: https://laurenbrensel.carrd.co/
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