Girl, Wash Your Face
by Rachel Hollis
Summary: With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
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.
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Source: I purchased a kindle copy
One of my old coworkers was reading this book for her work book club and I decided to join in. Self-help or even nonfiction in general are not genres that I typically read, but after reading How to Win Friends and Influence People last year for work, I try to keep an open mind about books that are designed to help me grow personally and professionally. I’m always a work in progress and I think it’s helpful to reflect on who you are and what choices you make.
I should start by saying I have no idea who Rachel Hollis is. Which is fine, because I don’t have any opinions about her and was definitely open to hearing what type of great life advice she wanted to give. I love the title and I was looking forward to getting some no-nonsense advice for women. I did hear that the book was kind of Christian (I think it’s from a Christian publisher) but it wasn’t over the top. I think it was more religious that I would have preferred, but I was largely able to ignore the references in a lot of the chapters.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Girl, Wash Your Face. I enjoyed the first few chapters and figured I could kind of skip over the religious or working mom aspects of the story because they do not apply to me and it was pretty easy to do in the beginning. Over time, though, I became more and more frustrated, not just at those things, but at the entire tone of the author and the specifics of the Lie/Chapter.
The first 4 chapters were great. The first 4 lies (The lies: Something else will make me happy. I’ll start tomorrow. I’m not good enough. I’m better than you.) we tell ourselves are lies that we often do tell ourselves regardless of who we are, what we do, or where we are going in life. They are lies we need to overcome and the anecdotes in the chapters were helpful and funny and mostly got to the heart of the matter.
I’d even venture to say that chapter 6 (the life: no is the final answer) and chapter 12 (I need to make myself smaller) were also good lies to touch on that impact nearly everyone. The rest of the lies were oddly specific and mostly irrelevant to me. (Loving him is enough for me, I’m bad at sex, I don’t know how to be a mom, I’m not a good mom, I’m a terrible writer…)
While some of the chapters had great titles (I will never get past this, I can’t tell the truth, there’s only one right way to be) later on, the actual meat of the chapters grew increasingly specific and unhelpful as life advice and were little more than just the author telling me a story and how it all worked out in the end.
I did not need the author to keep telling me how successful she was. I believed her the first couple of times.
I did not need the author to tell me how marathon running helped her cope if she wasn’t going to explain how she came to know that about herself. I mean, the book is about finding ways to cope with life, find joy in life, and discover who you can be. If marathon running is a hobby she found helpful, then I would have liked to know what sort of things she may have tried first, how she realized it was right for her, so that her readers could perhaps use the same methodology to find their own sport/hobby/coping mechanism.
It was like that with a lot of things. She would go on to say how she believed it was important to focus on the most minute of details when dreaming up goals, but never talked about writing down SMART goals, figuring out what your goals might be, making them actionable, or anything. I mean, dreaming up what color scarf you are going to put on the expensive purse you always wanted to be successful enough to own is great, but how did you lay out your steps for actually making that milestone? It’s not that she gave bad advice in the book so much as she just failed to share the more helpful parts of defining your own success. The only thing I know about her journey to success is that she “worked hard” and that was about it. She referred a lot to her faith and trusting God’s plan, which for me, I just replaced that with finding the good in your situation, but there was little emphasis on doing just that aside from the first chapter. How do you maintain your positivity? What things help you do that? Quit telling me to just trust or have faith. I’m not sure, but I think even religious people reading the book would’ve liked some more emphasis on the ways to stay positive and trust in the plan.
As the story went on, it became clear that I was not the right audience for this book. I don’t care about celebrities or cardio fantasies or vacation homes in Hawaii. I don’t care about how successful you are or how you never took no for an answer if you don’t share actual helpful advice in a book geared towards advice and how to use it. Save those stories for your memoir because they didn’t add to the book and some of them were reaching pretty far to be somehow categorized as whatever lie chapter they were apart of. I felt like the author was writing for herself, to herself, and not to the audience of people who may need a little bit of specifics and a little less self centered stories.
I also have a love/hate relationship with self depreciating humor. I do like it to some degree. I think it is humbling to share a success story when you can admit your own failings and admit that maybe you didn’t know what you were doing. It does help make people relatable. However, it can be overdone and very much was in the book. Not to mention, if you’re constantly name dropping and referring to your own success, the more you try to “come down to my level” in your stories, the more fake you seem. By the end of the book, I felt as though the author missed the mark, missed a great opportunity to really talk about what it means to be a women, be successful, and overcome a lot of those lies we tell ourselves in a way that seemed authentic and genuine.
I rated it 3 stars because maybe I was just never the right person to read this. I’m not a mom, a working mom, a lifestyle person, a person who follows Pinterest or lifestyle blogs, a person who does anything on instagram that doesn’t involve books, or a person who trusts in any sort of spiritual plan, or a person who knows who the author is and wants to know why she got where she is today or how.
I didn’t like it, but I also feel that some of the negative reviews are unfair, which is another reason I’m rating this 3 instead of 1 or 2 stars. Yes, the author is privileged and successful and perhaps didn’t have to work as hard as others to come as far, but I think she did a good job of backing up and saying those things from time to time. She mentions often that other people have it worse. Some of the reviews I’ve seen are pretty scathing and only because the author had the audacity to shell out advice from her pedestal. I don’t enjoy living in a world where we tear down others because they are privileged and therefore shouldn’t be giving me life advice of any kind because she didn’t starve enough, wasn’t poor enough, wasn’t a minority, or got lucky. We can always learn from others and I even admit that I enjoyed the first few chapters because they were things I needed to hear.