Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes merch is gaining popularity, making fun of the ‘girlboss’

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes. CNBC/Getty Images
  • Merchandise with the image or style choices of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is for sale on the internet.
  • Fans of Holmes and those who like to poke fun at her are selling t-shirts, mugs, and other accessores referencing the “girlboss.”
  • Holmes is currently on trial for fraud for allegedly defrauding investors about her blood testing company, Theranos.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes might be on trial for fraud, but merchandise showcasing her likeness is cropping up for sale all over the internet.

Mugs, t-shirts, and accessories carrying the image of the former blood testing company CEO are available online, both poking fun at and celebrating the “girlboss.” Retailers like Amazon, RedBubble, and Etsy all sell items with Holmes’s face on it, seeking to cash in with supporters or those trying to be ironic.

One Etsy shop is selling mugs that read “I wish disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes had an MLM so I could join it #girlboss,” while various apparel on RedBubble with Holmes’s face on it have slogans like “fake it ’til you make it” and “they hate to see a girlboss winning.”

Many listings reference the meme “gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss,” a phrase used to poke fun at and describe a capitalistic version of feminism online. The idea was called out for a lack of inclusivity and focus on wealth online. Since then, “girlboss” has become known satirically online with Elizabeth Holmes fans, dubbed “Holmies” by some observers, who use the term often to describe her, Insider reported.

“To be clear, we don’t condone any criminal activity, but we’re tickled that she was able to get so far on a lie, in an industry so heavily dominated by men,” a representative from one online shop told the Guardian. “She’s oozes femme fatale energy and who doesn’t like a good villain origin story?”

Holmes has pleaded not guilty to the fraud charges.

Stephen D. Benning, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas previously told Insider that Holmes fans may see their own mistakes in Holmes’, which are currently playing out in public.

Holmes dropped out of Stanford University at 19 to start her blood-testing business, Theranos. The company, which purported to be able to test for a range of diseases and conditions from a drop of blood, was once valued at $US9 ($AU12) billion, Insider reported. The technology did not do what Holmes and her ex-boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani — the former Theranos vice-chair, COO, and president — claimed, and both are charged with defrauding investors, medical professionals, and customers. Balwani, who will face a separate fraud trial, also pleaded not guilty.

Holmes went from Silicon Valley darling to worldwide infamy after Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou broke the story documenting Theranos’ alleged shortcomings, followed by his book “Bad Blood.” Several popular podcasts have also documented Theranos’ downfall.

Holmes faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The Theranos trial recently concluded its fourth week.