I started writing my thoughts on this book last week after I’d read it. Originally, I’d planned to share it in April. But, in light of the recent plagiarism scandals in the book world (#CopyPasteCris anyone?) and now this article by Katelyn Beaty in Christianity Today, I felt like I needed to share this more. In this article, Beaty shows a host of examples where Rachel Hollis presents ideas and sayings as her own but that are easily found to belong to others. When text or ideas are borrowed from others without attribution that’s generally called plagiarism.
All in all, before you scroll below to see my scattered collection of thoughts after reading Girl, Wash Your Face, this book was a solid “meh” for me. And now after discussing it with some others and reading some of the critiques, I’m even less enthused by it.
Note: These are my honest thoughts and reactions to this very hyped book. These comments are not in any way meant to speak to the character of the author, but rather to the book that was produced. If you enjoyed this book or have been inspired by the author, awesome! Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t.
Book: Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be
Author: Rachel Hollis
Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Inspirational / Self-help
Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts on This Book
This book was a solid meh for me.
While there were a handful of nuggets of wisdom that I connected with, a lot of it felt quite superficial.
I’ll start with the good:
Girl, Wash Your Face is written in a great casual conversational style that’s easy to read and absorb. It very much feels like sitting in a living room with a couple of women, sipping mugs of hot deliciousness (be it tea or coffee or cocoa, you choose) and having a heart to heart. Rachel Hollis appears to be sharing her experiences with the intent to try to help other women. Awesome.
A couple of bits that really hit me were the following:
“Tomorrow is another day and a chance to try again.”
I think we can all appreciate this reminder. I like how she phrased it using the word try. That’s all we can do and reminding ourselves that it’s okay to fail in whatever we’re doing today and that we can try it again tomorrow can be really helpful for creating a self-esteem built on positive self talk.
“You cannot ignore your pain. You cannot ever leave it behind completely. The only thing you can do is find a way to embrace the good that came out of it – even if it takes you years to discover what that is.”
This is what I’ve been trying to do since last July when my son was stillborn. I will always have the pain of losing him, but I am trying every dang day to find the glimmers of good – like the outpouring of support from our friends and family, like the time we’ve had to spend with family since that happened, like my husband’s new job and my new business.
“You can live through something that rocks your world off your axis. You can survive losing a piece of your heart without losing the core of who you are. More than merely surviving the loss, you can thrive. You can do it because it’s what you deserve. More importantly, you can survive the loss because living is the greatest honor you can give to the person you lost…”
I wrote a blog post about this exact sentiment when I announced that I was going freelance full-time (you can read it here). We lost our baby boy and the best way we can honour his memory is by living our best lives and pursuing our dreams.
Related post: “Do you have kids?” How to Answer After Pregnancy Loss
And the not-so-good:
While I found those three quotes resonated with me, the majority of this book felt like a lot of clichés and fluff. For some readers, that’s perfect and what they want or need. If you enjoyed the book, I’m happy for you.For me though, it felt a little too surface-level. Hollis scratches the surface of interesting topics but never goes in depth.
While, as I’ve said, most if it was pretty “meh” for me, there were a few things in this book that riled me up and actually made me angry.
She mentions multiple times how her kids get great grades and uses that as evidence that she’s a good mom. Uh, girl, grades aren’t everything and great kids and great moms might not get good grades. That ain’t evidence of being a good mom and is a detrimental thing to tell a mom who is struggling with her perception of how she’s doing as a parent. Not all kids do well academically, that doesn’t mean they are bad kids or have bad parents. This sentiment could be really damaging to a mom who is already struggling.
Hey fellow white lady, STOP USING THE WORD TRIBE!!!! Unless you’re an Indigenous person, can you please remove that word from your vocabulary? I know this is a popular phrase right now in lady-dom, finding your tribe and all that. But as white people, we have no right to use that word. It is a word that has historically and culturally been used by white people to demean First Nations, Indigenous and Aboriginal people around the world. Use squad, team, girl gang, sisterhood, my people – anything but tribe.
Lastly, I felt like the blurb for this book and any marketing that I saw for it was misleading about its audience and its content.
The audience of this book is definitely women, as advertised, but even more so, moms. This doesn’t come across in the marketing materials. A ton of the content is about being a mom, raising kids, finding balance and peace of mind in the busyness of being a working mom. I can see how that might be relevant and helpful to a lot of women. But as a woman who has lost multiple children to stillbirth and miscarriage and doesn’t have any living kids, a heads-up about a ton of mom-content would have been appreciated.
It’s all written from and for a very white, middle class, privileged perspective. As mentioned in the article I linked at the top of this post, it’s all written from a place of “I worked hard and succeeded so why can’t you…” Yes, her family was very poor when she was young and didn’t always have a perfect relationship. But she is still a white person in a predominantly white society and working hard really doesn’t work for everyone when they are fighting systemic racism as well as poverty. I’d definitely be interested to hear from women of different demographics who’ve read the book.
Christian faith also plays a big role in this book. I didn’t find it to be offensive or pushy, but it’s most definitely there with references to God and Bible verses – and that again is something that surprised me and may not be appreciated by other readers. I hadn’t realized the book was published by Thomas Nelson, which is the Christian imprint of Harper Collins. All the promo I saw for this book was associated with Harper Collins. And to be honest, the combination of “God has your best for you/God is in control” was a little contradictory to her main message of “you’re in charge of your life” and definitely felt like she was verging into dangerous prosperity gospel territory.
All in all, I feel like this book could have used another round of editing to refine some of the clichés, fill in the fluff, smooth out the contradicting messages, and check for plagiarism. And, a revised blurb to mention motherhood and faith would have made the book easier for readers to recognize as something for them or not for them.