Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: family, relationships.
I want to give NetGalley and Thomas Nelson/Nelson Books a huge thank you for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
I have heard so much hype about this book, so I was really excited to dig into the read. I am a fan of the self help genre- especially those of today with a strong feminist feel. I thought this was going to be another favorite to add to my shelves.
As Hollis writes, each chapter begins with a lie that she has told herself, and then she reveals how that lie came about and how she tackled the issue to prove it untrue, or how she changed her mindset. These topics are geared towards women, so the issues such as motherhood, careers, and body image are addressed. In each chapter, Hollis shares her struggles with conviction and candor, allowing the reader a peek behind the mogul’s privacy curtain. See, Hollis has built a large successful following through her event and media company that aims at making a working woman’s life a little easier. So it’s easy to think that Hollis has it all together- but as she explains throughout her book, she has her own weak areas too. Overall, her goal is to relate and join women together to make their lives better and allow them to live their best lives.
I admire the sentiments of Hollis’ book, but I have a lot of issues with her personal beliefs that don’t align with my own. Hollis is deeply religious, with two generations of preachers in her lineage (her father and grandfather). What I kept thinking throughout the novel was that I was being preached to, which sounds like the author may come by naturally. To me, preaching isn’t the same as encouraging, though that might be a fine line only I notice. I think religion has wonderful power to help people come together and uplift each other, to give them a guide for an honest living… but I have also seen it be twisted for political and social agendas. So, when I feel preached to, it’s a turn off. I also found it slightly annoying that used Hollis used endearments- girl, sister, etc- in her writing, and thought they came off like she was trying too hard. Trying to put those aside, I tried to take note of the underlying messages Hollis discussed, and found myself agreeing with a few things, such as this:
“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
This is so valid, and I’m glad she repeats herself because at first, I translated it as, don’t listen to anyone’s opinion of you…but it really translates to, don’t seek other’s opinions of you. You should have enough confidence in yourself and not seek compliments or criticisms to boost confidence. You don’t need to know what others think of you in order to form an opinion about yourself. Throughout her book, Hollis makes some strong arguments and backs them up with good advice like this.
But, then I ended up thinking about her overall message: Bettering yourself. I know she isn’t suggesting perfectionism- in fact, she explains she’s far from it- but Hollis is constantly stating how we women can better ourselves. I want to know- aside from ourselves, who do we need to be better for? Why can’t we be happy with who we are? Even more crazy- what if we already ARE happy, or on some level of happiness? See, this is where I started to question some of her advice in this book- where bias and personal beliefs were used as rational in Hollis’ recommendations. For example, Hollis states this about health, revealing a thin-stigma (which I’m not sure she realized as such):
You need to be healthy. You don’t need to be thin. You don’t need to be a certain size or shape or look good in a bikini. You need to be able to run without feeling like you’re going to puke. You need to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. You need to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every single day. You need to stretch and get good sleep and stop medicating every ache and pain. You need to stop filling your body with garbage like Diet Coke and fast food and lattes that are a million and a half calories. You need to take in fuel for you body that hasn’t been processed and fuel for you mind that is positive and encouraging. You need to get up off the sofa or out of the bed and move around. Get out of the fog that you have been living in and see your life for what it is.”
Here’s the thing- not all fat bodies are unhealthy. Sometimes, people have issues that lead them to carry more weight, and yes, some carry weight because they indulge in food. But that doesn’t make them lazy. That doesn’t mean they only eat “garbage foods”. And it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t living in a fog and not enjoying their life. Especially in light of the body-positive movements, these sentiments are very conflicting to what women have been fighting for.
In conclusion, I don’t think that Girl, Wash Your Face was a home-run for me because I was very on-the-fence about liking it. As I said, there were parts that I could certainly agree with, I enjoyed the memoir aspects, and I think parts are a great kick in the pants for those who need it, but I had a hard time blocking out that information that I found biased by personal beliefs and conflicting from my own.
Have you read this book? What was your take on Hollis’ advice?
TL/DR: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis is a self-help book with career, self esteem, and general life advice.
Read it? I wouldn’t again, but there have been a lot a various responses to this good so to each their own. If you want to read it, go for it.
Recommend it? Personally, I thought it was too preachy and personally biased- so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Buy it? No. If you’re dying to read it, get a copy from the library first to see if you care for Hollis’ advice. If you love it, then buy it.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
- Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
- The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer