autobiographies, books for women, Christian, marriage and relationships, parenting

Girl, Wash Your Face

girl wash your face

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, by Rachel Hollis. Published in February, 2018. 240 pages.

This book is burning up the best seller’s list, and a dear friend of mine really liked it, so I decided to give it a read. I figured going in that anything being read in the numbers that this book is would be a fairly quick read, and I was right. I think I read it in about three days.

I did something with this book that I rarely do when I read, but I almost always do when I read something that is current, popular, and marked Christian. I read reviews from other sources, starting with Amazon, and ending with a couple of reviews from Christian websites. Before I delve anymore into the whys and wherefores of that, I’ll preface it and my review with a short description of the book and its author.

Rachel Hollis is a lifestyle blogger turned motivational speaker and guru who savvily used social media to propel her brand into the mainstream. She’s the wife of a Hollywood distributor who recently left that job to run her company, which exploded in 2015. She’s the mother of four children, and is well loved in Christian cricles for her real talk and vocal profession of faith.

Girl, Wash Your Face is equal parts memoir, motivational pep talks, and self help advice. It was published by Christian publishing giant Thomas Nelson. This last bit of information sent me looking for reviews from other sources even while I was reading this book, because despite the occasional nod to faith and one or two Scriptures here and there, I wasn’t getting what I was expecting to find from a book categorized by Amazon as “Christian Living”.

None of this is to say that I ddn’t enjoy the book. There were parts I enjoyed quite a lot. Hollis has a funny way of telling her stories and an enchanting tone. There are also a few pieces of advice that I strongly disagree with, but overall, it isn’t a bad book. The problem is that it isn’t, to my mind, a “Christian” book.

I believed Hollis’ Christian testimony, so that wasn’t the problem. Mostly, the problem was that fully 90% of the advice in this book was advice any secular self-help person would dole out, because it put so much of the onus for your success, as it were, in your ability to be the hero in your own story. That was unfortunate, because the lies that Hollis induced women to overcome in each corresponding chapter are actually pretty good lies to be rid of:

  • The lie: Something else will make me happy
  • The lie: I’ll start tomorrow
  • The lie: I’m not good enough
  • The lie: I’m better than you
  • The lie: Loving him is enough for me
  • The lie: No is the final answer
  • The lie: I’m bad at sex
  • The lie: I don’t know how to be a mom
  • The lie: I’m not a good mom
  • The lie: I should be further along by now
  • The lie: Other people’s kids are so much cleaner/better organized/more polite
  • The lie: I need to make myself smaller
  • The lie: I’m going to marry Matt Damon
  • The lie: I’m a terrible writer
  • The lie: I will never get past this
  • The lie: I can’t tell the truth
  • The lie: I am defined by my weight
  • The lie: I need a drink
  • The lie: There’s only one right way to be
  • The lie: I need a hero.

Because this is a memoir, each corresponding lie (chapter) begins with a story from the author’s life, relates it to the things many women similarly struggle with, and follows that with admonitions and advice. The advice is usually along the lines of:

“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.”
Or:
“When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.”
And ultimately:

Your life is up to you.

If we can identify the core of our struggles while simultaneously understanding that we are truly in control of conquering them, then we can utterly change our trajectory.

God, your partner, your mama, and your best friends—none of them can make you into something (good or bad) without your help.

You need to prove to yourself that you can do it. You need to prove to yourself you are capable of anything you set your mind to. You have the power.

Being a gal who leans more towards duty and a perpetual battle to learn selflessness, it might just be that I was reading the whole thing from a wrong perspective, and I acknowldge that. However you cut it, this falls woefully short of Christian counsel. That isn’t to say there are no gems tucked away in this book, because there are. For instance, this was one of my favorites:

“Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.” Let me say that again for the people in the cheap seats.”

And this made me laugh:

“Our society makes plenty of room for complacency or laziness; we’re rarely surrounded by accountability. We’re also rarely surrounded by sugar-free vanilla lattes, but when I really want one, I somehow find a way to get one.”

As far as light reading goes, this was a nice diversion and in some cases, served as a humorous reminder of things I already know. But nothing about it deepened my faith or propelled me to go deeper into the Scriptures. That was the crux of the very few negative reviews this book received; that whatever it is, it’s not a Christian book. Most of the review, however, were overwhelmingly positive which is why this baby is selling like hot cakes.

For entertainment value and cute story telling, I’ll give it:

3 out of 5 stars

9 thoughts on “Girl, Wash Your Face”

  1. Since we were (elsewhere) discussing how Christians need to take more of an active role in our culture, I’m going to celebrate her doing so – and the endcap of her books in Target.

    Does it need to be an explicitly “Christian” book to impact the world for Christ? I don’t think so. As long as she stays firm to Biblical truth – aka doesn’t contradict it or try to grey it out – I think that being a “celebrity” is helpful.

    Our culture worships celebrity and those folks they see in the limelight, however annoying that is. So, having more “out” Christians in that world is a good thing.

    That said, sounds like a waste of my time/dollars, so … next!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I know we’re not supposed to ‘judge a book by its cover’, but I find in life, a simple observation (not in a judg-ee way) does, quite often, give numerous clues to the substance that lay within.

    Thank you, Elspeth for confirming my premise.

    Like

  3. @ Hearthie:

    Well, you know my position. I don’t think a book has to be explicitly Christian for it to impact the world for Christ. we’ve talked about this a lot since I started this blog devoted to literature and examination of the same.

    I was simply noting why the book -despite its overwhelming mainstream appeal- was a flop when reviewed by more conservative Christian writers and book reviewers, including notable ones like Tim Challies:

    https://www.challies.com/book-reviews/girl-wash-your-face/

    And yep, there’s a Target on the route home from my kids’ piano lessons and I’ve seen an entire display of her book in center aisle be full on Tuesday and nearly picked clean the following Tuesday.

    That said, sounds like a waste of my time/dollars, so … next!

    LOL! yeah, you can skip this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It strikes me that for some people–male and female–those “lies” described are absolutely true, and we might suggest that this book could actively prevent them from the introspection they need to improve. Some people are bad parents, bad lovers, etc.. We do them no favors by telling them everything’s OK when they’re neglecting obvious problems with their children, rejecting their spouse, and the like.

    OK, to be fair, the author probably IS a little more nuanced than a total “pep talk” giving the reader a set of new participation trophies, but the list of “lies” just makes me cringe. Some people are going to ignore the nuance and be Stuart Smalley.

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  5. @ Bike:

    It strikes me that for some people–male and female–those “lies” described are absolutely true, and we might suggest that this book could actively prevent them from the introspection they need to improve. Some people are bad parents, bad lovers, etc.. We do them no favors by telling them everything’s OK when they’re neglecting obvious problems with their children, rejecting their spouse, and the like.

    You know, I hadn’t even given proper credence to the fact that some of the lies might be true, so thank you, sir.

    OK, to be fair, the author probably IS a little more nuanced than a total “pep talk” giving the reader a set of new participation trophies, but the list of “lies” just makes me cringe. Some people are going to ignore the nuance and be Stuart Smalley.

    It’s a little more nuanced than a pep talk, but just. LOL. And yes, the feeling I got was that not enough women were going to appreciate common sense nuances. I was able to laugh with her a little, and even relate with her a little.

    Her early relationship with her now husband resonated, for example. Ours wasn’t quite as dysfunctional as she described, but “auditioning” for a guy with options is different and more stressful than dating a guy who is primarily motivated by auditioning for you. That was actually one of the big areas where I thought, “Oh no. You’re telling women not to do what you did, but you won the gamble. They may not listen to you. Stop recounting this story!!!”

    So yeah, not enough nuance.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m actually thinking that this might not be a bad read for my daughters (I’m too old and I’ve done everything anyway and so it’s all lost on me, LOL). It seems like something geared to those who maybe don’t have so much life/experience under the belt and points our the possible traps/potholes that one can easily fall into on life’s journey (I’m getting this from the List of Lies you mentioned above). Since you’ve read it and I haven’t, would it be a stretch for me to get for Things One and Two?

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  7. @ Maevey:

    Actually yes, now that I’ve taken a few minutes to ponder it. Things One and Two are young enough to get something out of it and have a mother wise enough to help them use common sense to navigate those life issues that warrant more than is to be found in the book.

    I think I understand you enough to know that while people like me pick theological nits, you can appreciate the overall message, which is a net positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Els! I really appreciate your take on things (much the same as with Hearth) when it comes to material like this. Omigoodness do we have to catch up! I’m about pulling my hair out with the goings-on! I’ll e-mail you my cell number and maybe we can chat one evening.
    And you’d better get in touch with me if you’re going to be in my neck of the woods (BTW daughter #1 now a teacher in Greenville – it’s a fantastic town, if you’re going to be near there).

    Like

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