I’ll admit, before reading “Girl, Wash Your Face,” I had never heard of Rachel Hollis. Or her husband, Dave Hollis, a former big shot for Walt Disney Studios. Yes, I often write about celebrities and entertainment news, but I don’t follow people or popularity. So, a person’s semi-celebrity status or name-dropping abilities doesn’t impress me.
But perhaps my lack of knowledge about Rachel and her family’s everyday life is a good thing. I only know her as a writer, so I’m able to deliver an honest book review to my subscribers without worrying about who I might offend.
Who is Rachel Hollis?
Yes, this is a book review, not a biography, but I feel like it’s important to know about an author before I either promote or trash a book they’ve written. So, let’s start with the basics.
Rachel Hollis was born on January 9, 1983, and she grew up in Weedpatch, California as a preacher’s daughter. She attended a small country Church of God, but she always had dreams of living in a big city. Today, she’s is a loving wife, a busy mother, and a successful entrepreneur.
In her book, Rachel shares her struggles about coping with her older brother’s suicide, her father’s temper, and her awkwardness as a teenager. She also shares details about her battle against Bell’s Palsy, which causes facial paralysis, and her bouts of depression.
“If Rachel Hollis tells you to wash your face, turn on that water! She is the mentor every woman needs, from new mommas to seasoned business women.”Anna Todd | New York Times bestselling author
“Rachel’s voice is the winning combination of an inspiring life coach and your very best (and funniest) friend. Shockingly honest and hilariously down to earth, Girl, Wash Your Face is a gift to women who want to flourish and live a courageously authentic life.”Megan Tamte, Founder and co-CEO of Evereve
Things I Like about Rachel Hollis’ Book: “Girl, Wash Your Face”
Again, I don’t know much about Rachel Hollis’ personal life, or her previous work. But I do know enough about her as a writer, and as a motivational speaker to write this review. And from what I can tell, there’s a lot to like about her as a person. She seems to have a straightforward, carefree, and witty attitude, and she seems passionate about her life, her children, and her job.
I like the self-help topics Rachel writes about in “Girl, Wash Your Face.” And her candidness while speaking about taboo subjects, such as suicide and depression. Her stories feel shocking, at first, but also necessary because too many authors worry about offending an audience.
I also appreciate that Rachel includes takeaway notes at the end of each chapter called, “Things That Helped Me.” In motivational writing, takeaways provide an inside look into an author’s thought process while offering advice to the reader.
Finally, I feel like anyone; man or woman could benefit from reading Rachel Hollis’ book. Yes, the stories come from a woman’s perspective, but most self-help topics speak to human nature, not a specific gender.
Do Numbers Ever Lie?
Rachel Hollis’ book, “Girl, Wash Your Face” currently has over 10,000 reviews on Amazon, of which 82% came from readers giving the book a 5-star rating. It’s hard to argue with numbers, but sometimes the majority vote isn’t always right.
Based on the book’s content alone, I’d gladly give it a 4 or 5-star rating. But after thinking about the book as a whole, I have to agree with the other 18%. “Girl, Wash Your Face” deserves a 2 or 3-star rating from me, and here’s why.
Structurally Unsound Motivational Approach
This book feels structurally unsound from the beginning. Yes, I know it sounds harsh to compare a motivational book’s advice to an old and decrepit bridge that might fall down. But frankly, I find Rachel’s foundation a bit shaky, for lack of a better word. Her writing seems fine, but her motivational approach feels ingenuine and somewhat condescending. Let me explain.
“Girl, Wash Your Face” is twenty chapters focused on the same, unwavering premise that everything a female reader believes about herself is a lie. In fact, every chapter title starts with the words: “The Lie” followed by a catchy subtitle. The Lie: I’m Bad at Sex. The Lie: I’m a Bad Mom. But in my experience as a spiritual life coach, lies, perceived or otherwise, invoke a person’s natural defense mode. And it’s difficult for most people to learn while they feel guarded.
Also, claiming that something is untrue doesn’t make it false for everyone else. Rachel’s lifestyle is much different from mine, and from most of her female readers. She’s married to a former top executive, and she lives the life of a business mogul, so her truth is not the same as not my truth. I appreciate her sharing her story, but her advice seems improbable for my life.
Reads More Like a Celebrity Memoir
I’ll be the first to say that Rachel Hollis seems extroverted and personable. However, “Girl, Wash Your Face” reads more like a celebrity memoir, and a list of Rachel’s credentials, rather than a motivational book for women.
Motivational speaking is like having a conversation with another person. But just like a conversation, no one wants to listen to twenty chapters of another person bragging about themselves.
There’s too much about “me” and not enough “you” in this book. Rachel mentions being “a popular blogger” with a slew of fans and gaining most of her publicity as a “celebrity party planner” at least a bazillion times. But then, in the same breath, she lists the Fruits of the Spirit. Yes, confidence makes a great entrepreneur, but exercising humility is equally as important, and I just don’t see much humility from her in this book.
Rachel also shares many stories about being a lifestyle blogger and a motivational speaker in her book. But at times, she seems to veer away from motivating other people, and more toward praising herself for her personal accomplishments.
In 2018, “Girl, Wash Your Face” made it to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Then, six weeks ago, Rachel Hollis staked her claim among Amazon Charts Top 20 bestsellers. She was also named as one of the “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” by Inc. Magazine. No doubt, Rachel’s entrepreneurial resumé speaks for itself, but I wonder if all the publicity is going to her head. Let me explain.
Feels Like a High School Power Trip
After Inc. Magazine named Rachel, she started receiving invitations from colleges to be a keynote speaker. I expected her to share a story about having an opportunity to inspire hundreds of future entrepreneurs, but her reaction was quite different.
As the story goes, one college student stood up to ask a question, but then made the mistake of addressing Rachel by her first name.
Rachel wastes most of a chapter by going on a tangent about one student’s question: “Can you tell us the secret of your success? Like what’s the one thing that truly gives you an advantage over others.”
Here’s how Rachel explains her reaction.
“Because apparently we call adults by our first names now because we’re a bunch of hippies…”
“God bless our youth. God bless these wee infants that believe a lifetime of hustling and working…”
Rachel Hollis | Girl, Wash Your Face | Chapter: The Lie – No is the Final Answer
I don’t know if Rachel felt insulted, or if she’s just bad at making jokes, but her perceived arrogance still baffles me. Regardless of her intention, her approach seems hypocritical, especially after she had just said:
“Holding each other accountable comes from a place of love. Judgment comes from a place of fear, disdain, or even hate.”Rachel Hollis | Girl, wash Your Face | Chapter: The Lie – I’m Better than You
If Rachel went to the college to motivate and inspire young entrepreneurs, rather than promote herself, who gives a shit about a name?
I don’t think I’ll be seeking any more de-motivational advice from Ms. Hollis, but I do have one question for her:
What’s wrong with hippies?