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Elizabeth Holmes fans who sell 'Girl Boss' shirts and support the disgraced businesswoman say she's still a 'femme fatale' icon

Lindsay Dodgson   

Elizabeth Holmes fans who sell 'Girl Boss' shirts and support the disgraced businesswoman say she's still a 'femme fatale' icon
  • Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty on four counts of fraud on January 3.
  • But the former businesswoman still has a group of supporters.

Elizabeth Holmes, who founded the defunct blood-testing company Theranos, was found guilty of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Monday.

But the disgraced businesswoman still has the support of some fans who call themselves "Holmies" — and hail Holmes as a "Girl Boss."

"We love her because her story is a villain origin story that we can all relate to," a representative of an Etsy shop called We Are Elizabeth Holmes who asked to remain anonymous due to the controversial community, told Insider.

The Etsy shop sells Holmes merchandise, including T-shirts and mugs, some with now-infamous quotes including: "First they think you're crazy, then they fight you, then you change the world."

"She's a femme fatale who rose up in an industry of old stuffy men and beat them at their own game," they said, adding that the conviction "doesn't change the way we feel about her."

Once valued at $9 billion, Theranos claimed it could test for multiple diseases and conditions with just one drop of blood. Holmes publicised the company's devices to investors despite known shortcomings and inaccuracies in its blood-testing technology, prosecutors said.

The Etsy store representative called Holmes' guilty verdict "harsh" but "fair."

Fans of Holmes are mostly trolling, with a sprinkling of genuine respect

The Holmes fandom, which Insider first reported on in September, appears to be small but mighty.

On September 9, at the start of her trial, three women dressed in Holmes' iconic black turtleneck and blonde bun look were photographed waiting outside the court to catch a glimpse of her. Dorothy Atkins, a senior reporter at Law 360, said in a tweet that the women told her they were "fans."

But many of Holmes' fans seem to support her ironically. Insider has found two active Facebook pages, one which is satirical and pretends to post as Holmes and another that calls itself an "unofficial fan page." The fan page has 2,785 members but has not been updated since October 24, 2021.

Still, there are pockets of folks with a hint of genuine respect for Holmes. TikTok creator Serena Shahidi, who has 424,000 followers and frequently posts about Holmes, told Insider in September that her story can be seen as a feminist issue, as it's empowering to see a woman be such an audacious villain.

"There is something kind of progressive about the idea that a woman in the news isn't playing by anyone's rules," she said.

The owner of an Instagram account called @elizabethholmesupdates, Annuncia Roberts, previously told Insider that the fandom grew from the situation being "almost funny." Roberts, who is mostly trolling with the memes she posts about Holmes, also said she thought Holmes taking money from wealthy people was "satisfying."

In a recent satirical Instagram story after the verdict, Roberts said it was a "dark day" and people should show support for "Lizzie" by donning their "best black turtleneck."

A post shared by @elizabethholmesupdates

One TikTok user named Caroline Dunlap, who uses the handle @ygdunlap, posted a video on January 4 saying Holmes was "#1 in my heart," as her actions were "unprecedented for a woman."

Dunlap added that Holmes was "epic" for modifying her voice to be lower and "scheming" secretaries of state. It has 134,000 views.

In the comments, though, Dunlap clarified that she did not condone the damage Holmes caused and understood she was "100% guilty."

Dunlap told Insider that almost everyone agrees the reasons for her indictment were "sound and justified," and nobody is celebrating the harm Theranos may have caused. But as the discourse has been led by Gen Z, it is a "post-modern and mostly satirical take on feminist ambition," she said.

"She's guilty and epic," Dunlap said.

The "Girl Boss" trend as it relates to Holmes, to Dunlap, is "an odd, hyperaware commentary that recognizes both the enormous wrongdoing and mass deception she caused, but also subtly tips a hat to the female villain's ability to rise as far as she did."

Essentially, it shows that women are capable of just as much disruption and destruction as men, she said.

"Is that a good thing? Yes and no," Dunlap said. "But it's certainly iconic."

Each count Holmes faces come with a maximum 20 year prison sentence. Her sentencing may be six months from now, according to The Wall Street Journal. The sentencing hearing date will be set next week.


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