Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Apr 12, 2019

Before my book club decided to read this book, I'd never even heard of Rachel Hollis. (Since she has 1.3 million followers on Instagram, maybe that means I've been living under a rock; it wouldn't be the first time.)

But even not knowing a thing about her, I made assumptions about the book. And those assumptions made me less than excited about reading it.

And now comes the part where I say, "But I was wrong! This book changed my life!"

Except . . .

I was right.

The book was basically exactly what I thought it was going to be. The general gist? Be true to yourself. Pursue your passion. Achieve your dreams. You've got this, girl.

I am not above reading motivational self-help books. In fact, there are times when it's a genre I quite enjoy. But in this case, there were a couple of overarching things that I just couldn't get past.

First, Rachel Hollis came across as a bit full of herself. I don't know how many times she mentioned her self-made company, wide recognition, and devoted tribe, but it was more than enough for me. Also, there was something about the way she touted her many years of experience and wisdom that just rubbed me the wrong way. For example, she wrote about being named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top thirty entrepreneurs under the age of thirty. This initiated a slew of speaking engagements at various colleges, and she said that every time, she would get some variation of the same question (my snide comments and observations are in the [ ]): "'Hi, Rachel,' they'd always begin (because apparently we call adults by their first names now like we're a bunch of hippies! [last time I checked, college students were also adults]). 'Can you tell us the secret of your success? Like, what's the one thing that truly gives you an advantage over others?' First of all, God bless our youth [that are, at most, ten years younger than she is]. God bless these wee infants who believe that a lifetime [29 years] of hustling and working and sweating and stressing and building, building, building a company could be summarized with one single answer."

Do you see what I'm talking about? If she was named one of the top entrepreneurs under the age of thirty, then that means that the very oldest she could be was twenty-nine, right? And here she is, talking about a lifetime of hard work like she's eighty or something! Granted, she has worked really hard and accomplished as much or more than some people do in an entire lifetime, but still, it was presumptuous of her to act like she had all of the answers at the ripe old age of twenty-nine.

Second, our dreams did not match up. Like, at all. Of course it's not her fault that I don't want to be an entrepreneur or run my own company or give advice to millions of people or plan large-scale events. And she's quick to say that your dreams don't have to be the same as her dreams--you just need to identify what your dreams are and then go for them. The funny thing is, you might think we have some things in common since she is also a Type A/Upholder personality, a wife, a mom, and religious--just like me. But even within those categories, we're actually really, extremely different. So yeah, it just wasn't the greatest fit for me. Not her fault.

I will say that in Rachel's defense (I'm thirty-four, so does that make me enough of an adult to call her by her first name?), I read a paper copy of the first two-thirds of the book and then switched to the audio (which Rachel reads herself) for the last third. And I liked it much better. Somehow, hearing her interpretation of the words made them sound more genuine and authentic. Given the fact that she does do a lot of public speaking, I guess this makes sense--maybe this book is a little like poetry: it makes more sense when it is read aloud.

Also, for all of my cynicism, I was actually incredibly impressed with her own vulnerability and the way she opened up and shared some very personal stories, some of which did not always put her in the best light. She has gone through some extremely difficult and challenging and heart wrenching things, and I respect her for being honest and open in the hopes that by so doing, she will help others through their own hard things.

The book wasn't all for naught. Besides finding some of her stories really captivating and interesting, I also had a couple of takeaways.

The first was when she was talking about goals and developing habits. She said, "It's much easier to add a habit than to take one away." Even though I kind of pride myself on being able to make and achieve goals, when she said that, a little light bulb clicked on for me. Suddenly I could see why I was having a hard time eating more healthily. It sounds a little bit stupid when I write it out, but I was trying to cut the junk food out of my life without filling it in with nutritious foods. I was trying to break a habit of bad eating instead of creating a new habit of healthy eating.

The second thing I really loved was when she quoted Tony Robbins, who said, "If you're going to blame your hard times for all the things that are wrong in your life, you better also blame them for the good stuff, too." Without getting into the details because I think that's Rachel's story to tell, she shared the traumatic experience of losing her brother and then acknowledging that some positive things came out of that horrible event. This was a little bit mind-blowing to me. While I definitely believe that God can turn all experiences for our good, I've always been hesitant to acknowledge that good because it feels wrong to be at all grateful for something bad. But this insight gave me a new perspective.

I feel a little like a jerk for criticizing certain aspects of this book, but I always try to give as honest of a review as possible. And the truth is, I wasn't in love with this one. (And thankfully, I know Rachel won't be reading this review because "my opinion isn't any of her business anyway.")

I have a feeling this might be somewhat of a polarizing book. What did you think of it?


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this review! The second I saw which book you were writing abt I was like 'yes! I haven't read this and actually the title i
    Didn't catch my attention when others raved about it, so I was really curious to hear what you thought about it.

  2. I completely agree, Amy. I found her disingenuous. There is some good stuff there, but I felt like she was a little too full of herself and a little too sure of how others should be living.

  3. Ha! I was kind of afraid your review was going to convince me I needed to read this book. I also have no idea who Rachel Hollis is, and the only things I know about this book are what I can guess from the title and the ways in which others have talked about it. My impression is that it's yet another pep talk for women who are, it is assumed, walking around in a cloud of self-doubt. I have no idea whether or not that's accurate of the book's content, but that's not a book I need to read (there are already plenty of talks aimed at Relief Society sisters for that).


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