Have you or a loved one been a victim of Rachel Hollis?
If so, call 1-800-SCAMMER.
That phone number isn’t real but if it was, I think people would be calling to get their precious time and money back.
Who is Rachel Hollis?
For those unaware of who Rachel Hollis is or why she’s been mired in controversy, here’s a quick refresher.
Hollis is a self-help author and Christian influencer whose book, Girl, Wash Your Face, was a bestseller for most of 2018, shooting her from blogger to author stardom.
She went on to write two other bestselling books, titled Girl, Stop Apologizing and Didn’t See That Coming: Putting Life Back Together When Your World Falls Apart.
“The 38-year-old blogger turned self-help guru, motivational speaker, and author has amassed millions of followers, launched podcasts and conferences, landed prominent speaking engagements — including on Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour — and written a follow-up best-selling book, ‘Girl, Stop Apologizing,’” according to The Cut.
As her success grew, so did the controversies and backlash.
Criticism for ‘Toxic Positivity’
Let’s break down the criticism levied against Hollis, starting with her “toxic positivity.”
“At the center of Hollis’s messaging is the conviction that if you simply ‘choose positivity,’ you can change the material conditions of your life to become a happier, more fulfilled being.
“She lays out this principle in the intro of ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’: ‘You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for how happy you are.’”
Sounds a little trite, but as a privileged white woman myself, I just roll my eyes at that attitude — others do not have that luxury.
As Laura Turner so eloquently wrote in her Buzzfeed feature, “Hollis doesn’t address the possibility that for some people, obstacles to happiness are outside their control. And it is proof of her hard-earned privilege that she doesn’t have to.”
Instead of conceding the fact that in our societal structure, many women, mostly minority women, are unable to achieve security let alone happiness, Hollis doubled down.
Her Response to Criticism
In a New York Times piece in 2019, Hollis said “One of the things the book has been attacked for is, ‘You say that anyone can kind of pull themselves up by the bootstraps and go. That’s just not true for everyone,’ and I disagree.”
She added that “of course” she knows that not “everybody has the same opportunities” or resources. “But you, meaning the public, buying into the idea that it can’t happen for you because of what your life looks like right now, doesn’t serve you. It doesn’t serve you!” She said: “That’s the hill I’ll die on.”
That is not a hill I’d take a nap on, let alone die, but to each their own, I guess.
But her toxic positivity isn’t the only thing she’s faced backlash for — not even close.
In January 2019, BuzzFeed News reviewed some of Hollis’s Instagram posts of stylized quote cards, many of which she claimed she wrote (when they reached out to her to comment, she did not respond, but the IG posts were deleted — not shady at all!).
Examples: Hollis credited this quote as her own: “When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.”
It’s almost word for word of a quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
She also credited herself for writing “ambition is not a dirty word,” a turn of phrase that has been used by myriads of speakers.
But Hollis is definitely not the first person who said it — it’s the title of a self-help book by psychologist Debra Condren.
Girl, Write Your Own Sh*t!
The most egregious evidence of her plagiarism is when she attributed a Maya Angelou quote to herself. MAYA F***ING ANGELOU.
View this post on Instagram
This was in April 2020, when she posted a quote card to her Instagram with the words, “Still … I Rise.”
“While the quote is widely recognizable as the title of an iconic Maya Angelou poem, it appeared to many that Hollis was suggesting the words were her own — especially given her habit of questionable attribution,” according to The Cut.
The backlash ensued in the comments, and Hollis attempted to quell the anger in an IG post, in which she said that “obviously” that quote is “an immortal line from a Maya Angelou poem,” and defensively postured that the lack of credit wasn’t all her fault.
“While I didn’t create or post the graphic, I am the leader of the team that did and so I accept full responsibility for their actions,” she wrote.
Here’s what I want women of whiteness to learn from the Rachel Hollis incident:
• You are not above getting called all the way the heck out.
• You do not get to use black women and then turn around and abuse us without getting your wig snatched.
— Ally All Along (@thearmchaircom) April 27, 2020
She went on to say, “I can’t imagine how deeply hurtful it is to the African American community to see the words of your heroes used without credit. This has happened to you far too often and I hate — I literally HATE — that anything produced by my company added to your pain … I understand that this post without credit is not a little thing to you … this is death by a thousand cuts. This is the millionth type of incident like this you’ve experienced.”
But Wait! It Gets Worse
In a since deleted TikTok vid in April, “Hollis recounted a livestream she did earlier, in which she referenced the ‘sweet woman’ who cleans her house.
“In response, Hollis said she received a comment from a user about her privilege, which clearly didn’t sit well with her.”
I couldn’t say nothing anymore. White women can’t keep benefiting from privilege & pretending to be oppressed. Call it out! #rachelhollis
Hollis finally said that she’s “super freaking privileged,” and that she “works her ass off” to live a lifestyle where she can enlist someone to scrub her toilet (“twice a week”).
“Literally everything I do in my life is to live a life that most people can’t relate to,” she said, continuing that “most people won’t work this hard.”
But she didn’t stop there. “Every woman I admire in history,” briefly pausing for emphasis, “was unrelatable.”
Rachel Hollis comparing herself to Harriet Tubman is WILD pic.twitter.com/62lEBmr8Iu
— Angie Treasure (@snark_tank) April 2, 2021
The caption was uh, something. In it, she wrote the names of women she says are “unrelatable AF,” including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, and Harriet Tubman.
The names infuriated and stunned viewers. She compared herself to Harriet Tubman!! A black woman who was born into slavery and after reaching freedom, worked tirelessly to do the same for others.
After that backlash, she posted a defensive response which has since been deleted, then an apology response a few days later.
“I’m so deeply sorry for the things I said in my recent posts and the hurt I have caused in the past few days.”
View this post on Instagram
She said she understood the “tremendous pain” she caused by implying she understands and relates to the struggles and experiences of the aforementioned “unrelatable AF women,” concluding, “I know I have disappointed so many people, myself included, and I take full accountability.”
Shady MLM Claims
In 2019, Hollis was mired in another scandal which revolved around multi-level marketing (MLM).
According to Time, Hollis spoke at a conference for doTerra, an MLM.
“The mostly female attendees have been invited because they’ve persuaded a number of people to become doTerra wholesalers, to buy a preset amount of oil each month that they can then try to resell to friends.
“MLMs, which are often compared to pyramid schemes, have come under fire for overpromising results and trapping people with too much product (a doTerra spokesperson says 80% of its customers buy for personal use without intending to resell).
“They also offer one of the few jobs women can do in their own time, with small kids. All they need is a work ethic and ties to the local community. Hollis speaks at a lot of MLM events. It’s exactly the kind of crowd she thrives on.”
Relationship Guru? Not So Fast
Fast forward to June, when yet another scandal rocked the house of Hollis — divorce.
“Even her most diehard fans questioned her credibility when Rachel and Dave Hollis filed for divorce in 2020 after years of offering and charging for marriage advice,” reported Mashable.
View this post on Instagram
“We have worked endlessly over the last three years to make this work and have come to the conclusion that it is healthier and more respectful for us to choose this as the end of our journey as a married couple,” Hollis said in her IG caption, insinuating that she and her husband had relationship difficulties since 2017.
Hollis went dark for a while, but in June she came slithering back to social media.
In a vid posted to YouTube, where she discusses her first smooch since her divorce, a red flag was dropped at the 6:22 mark — Hollis says, “I don’t know a lot about relationships.”
So in 2018, when the then-married couple hosted a $1,800 a pop ‘Rise Together’ couples conference, she was just winging it when she dished out relationship advice?
According to her own words (not Maya Angelou’s!), yes.
The event, or grift, said that participants would “learn some tangible advice for improving their relationship.” They also published a marriage advice YouTube video and started the ‘Rise Together’ podcast, where they doled out couples advice only weeks before they announced their divorce.
A few weeks ago, Hollis hosted another ‘Rise’ conference event — a three day affair that had low turnout compared to her past get-togethers.
There was more bad news for Hollis after the dismal conference attendance numbers — an ex-employee was set to release a book called ‘My Life With the Mogul,’ but it looks like it’s being blocked by an NDA — people who pre-ordered the memoir are being refunded.
Her decline was swift, but it looks like she is attempting a comeback — in her latest IG story she promoted her new podcast, “The Rachel Hollis Podcast: 3% Chance.’
It’s described as “featuring candid interviews with top performers in business, media, and lifestyle, as well as deep dives into topics like health and motivation, the Rachel Hollis Podcast has everything you need to level up your life! New episodes premiere every Tuesday.”
Her new venture isn’t about relationships per say, but it does seem to charter a similar course that has angered so many, and rightly so — she profited off of being a self-proclaimed relationship expert (she is far from it) and was less than truthful to her fans about her own life.
Maybe her next venture should be titled, ‘Girl, Start Apologizing.’
What do you think about Rachel Hollis? Are you a fan or a foe? Sound off in the comments!
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