Rachel Hollis is Full of Crap. #SorryNotSorry
I read books on finding a pathway to stronger self. Actually I mostly scroll Pinterest on ideas for books to read that might magically jolt me towards a fulfilled life. I follow Instagram pages made by women from “real homes” with “real problems” showing stretch marks, bald heads, and birth. Yet, often I feel zero inspiration. Mostly I experience dismay by the dupe many women fall for: lifestyle bloggers selling themselves and their “journey” as a brand.
Influencers as a profession skillfully generate followers and revenue offering solutions to the pangs of parenting, relationships, and complexities of womanhood. I find this troublesome. These aren’t real women captured in candid moments; the pictures and delicate home décor were crafted by a team. It’s posed. It’s all a façade. Ask any single mother how she gets pictures of her baking cookies with her children—she will tell you awkward selfies, recruiting an older child, or simply forgoing the Kodak moment. Real homes have messes and moms frantically following toddlers or pesky pre-teens. The couch isn’t white, the cupboards feature jelly handprints mosiacs, and the dishes/laundry seem to multiply like that goblet in Harry Potter.
A magazine life… a blog life looks pretty. But it sells a false narrative. If you just decorate according to X style, use an amazing meal planner app, and believe in yourself everything will naturally fall into place to drive the narrative of your story in a new, more positive direction. Mamas--- that’s not real. Maybe it is… but not for me. An influencer by nature inspires her audience to consume the products she recommends. That feels… smarmy. I liken it to thinking you’ve been invited to a friend’s home for an intimate party only to discover she needs you to buy several items so she can get a deep discount.
Don’t get me wrong everyone needs inspiration. I get it. Plus, I think looking at those manicured, poised shots with stunning backdrops is genuinely nice to see (and I wear plenty of Lularoe). A blonde mom wearing her leggings hugging her son as they walk in the peaceful park just before sunset--- what a stunning moment. It’s just…. it’s just not authentic. It feels like smoke and mirrors or a magic trick designed for deception in the name of “real.” (I’ve fallen for it. I promise I see how in my past efforts I drank the Kool-Aid).
And each time I read one of those blogs or gaze upon a gorgeous IG selfie I can’t help but realize this is motivated by selling one’s life as a brand. A “You can do it too” marketing tactic designed to con women into believing their lives lack in value or they possess less personal power if they do not have the same “lifestyle” as these “real moms” with it all together. And for a reasonable price you might learn the secrets to a put together existence. Soak it up sister. Get your label maker, discover the glories of farmhouse chic, and start prepping meals for the whole week on Sunday after you wash laundry using a fool-proof system. Oh and book that conference for ideas on how to improve life. Trust me the small fortune you sacrifice will be worth it!
I’m not alone in this perception. Buzzfeed recently published an article talking about this very same concern citing Rachel Hollis as lacking an understanding of her audience and failing to note the barriers that keep many women from actualizing their dreams. Ms. Hollis’ experience towards personal empowerment lacks connection to many women seeking her advice. Most people don’t have a nanny or personal assistant to help keep children corralled and complications at bay. They don’t celebrate achievement through the purchase of a designer purse. We have daycare bills, doctor’s appointments, court dates, divorce decrees, and oftentimes a full-time job to manage. We lack celebrity connections committed to making our dreams come true. I wish Hollis knew that part of my womanhood more……because then maybe I’d buy her books. But she lacks perspective overall. I’m sorry Rachel—I really am.
Hollis shares sound advice in her books. She truly does.
Here’s the good stuff: She tells women to “Blaze their own trail” and to quit apologizing. She encourages women to stop comparing themselves to everyone else. She’s not wrong. I just find her message hard to digest when trying to blaze my trail as a writer and community advocate. I’m in front of a mountain every damn day. I climb that bitch and wait for tomorrow’s hike. I persist. And I am PROUD as hell of that.
And reading Rachel Hollis isn’t going to get me where I want to be in life. Hard work, a savings, and healing can catapult me to a healthier space. Yes, a clean home with attention to organization does help keep my mind at ease. I will give all the gurus that credit. A space you want to be in has monumental impacts on your mood. But it shouldn’t be a capitalist venture to sell yourself as a brand. We don’t really hail Kim Kardashian for selling herself online. We just tolerate her and secretly act as consumers when we check out her latest post (she’s having another baby btw).
I just feel sad women with so many positive intentions might experience a strong draft of cold reality after they read these books, pay to attend the conferences, and start cooking all of the recipes.
Life doesn’t magically change. YOU CHANGE.
You seek liberation from the thought patterns derailing your success and you put in efforts to alter your circumstance as best as you can. If you don’t have a nanny by the end of all these changes it doesn’t mean you failed. It means you’re just like the rest of us. Living your best life on your terms.
I, for one, don’t see living my best life as a means to a profitable end. I’ll pay my bills one month at a time without a pay feature on my Instagram. I’ll download a couple apps to remind me of my progress. I’ll write to my heart’s content. Maybe that makes me stupid—skipping prime opportunities for passive income. But what if this attitude helps me stay grounded and away from feeling the pressure to conform. Or maybe I’m just afraid Kim Kardashian might feel really threatened by my thighs and pixie cut?
Here’s what I know: stopping to appreciate my journey fuels my passion for life. I adore writing and ache to professionally share my prose. I value sharing how I overcame adversity and continue to do so.
I am not a guru. I am a survivor. And I want other survivors to know you’re making your best life too. I applaud you. Stand up. Take pictures of your messy house and acknowledge that you didn’t change out of jammies today.
Be authentically you.
Don’t use women who know little about surviving as your guide. That may seem rude… but rise on your own two feet without the pressure to conform. Don’t feel compelled to be someone else. See your scars as evidence of your battles won.
What Hollis, Gaines and other mommy influencers are selling is a hope for answers to what ails you. Why do you think bloggers fill titles with “How tos?” Because they know you ache for a solution for both common and complex problems. Getting lost in someone’s brand only begets more feelings of confusion. What if you started seeing yourself as the solution? As the real avenue to fulfillment: “Captain of your Soul” type stuff? There’s no magic bullet other than YOU.
Cultivate yourself and wish for success aligned to your passions. That’s the kind that will feed your soul and keep food on the table. Solve issues by modeling your choices after successful decision makers—find people with experience and wisdom to share. Connect because through the connection resolution resides.
It’s about embracing the journey you are on, the one behind you, and the one ahead. It’s like all those children’s books tell you “You are perfectly you.” You don’t need to succumb to the pressure of transforming into someone else--- be the best version of you possible. When you listen to yourself… the world suddenly takes notice and tunes in. Really amazing conversations take place. I’ve never felt more at peace with that notion.
PS: Thank you Laura Turner @lkoturner for bringing a National audience to the topic.