You may know Rachel Hollis as the author of Girl, Wash Your Face, her picture often scattered across the book aisles of Target. However, what most people didn’t know is that she has a tone-deaf side to her. Recently, she has come under fire for a controversial TikTok that has since been deleted. I’ve gone ahead and transcribed the audio for you here.
The TikTok that Started It All
On International Women’s Day, Hollis said:
“Okay, yesterday I was doing a livestream and I mentioned that there’s this sweet woman who comes to my house twice a week and cleans. She’s my house cleaner, she cleans the toilets. Someone commented and said, “You are privileged AF.” And I was like, “You’re right! I’m super freaking privileged! But also, I work my ass off to have the money to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets.” And I told her that, and then she said, “Well, you’re unrelatable.” [laughs] What is it about me that made you think I want to be “relatable?” No sis, literally everything I do in my life is to live a life that most people can’t relate to. Most people won’t work this hard. Most people won’t get up at 4 AM. Most people won’t fail publicly again and again just to reach the top of the mountain. Literally, every woman I admire in history was unrelatable. If my life is relatable to most people, I’m doing it wrong.”
Feeling justified in her rant, she even went a step further and reuploaded the TikTok to Instagram with the caption:
“Harriet Tubman, RBG, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian… all Unrelatable AF. Happy Women’s History Month!”
Why This is Problematic
There’s a lot to unpack here, at the surface level and underneath. For starters, Hollis doesn’t even refer to her housekeeper as a housekeeper, but as a “house cleaner,” who “cleans her toilets.” She makes sure to tell us this twice.
She insinuates that she is afforded this privilege because of her hard work. While no one is questioning her work ethic, it’s still important for Hollis to realize that as a white woman, she is at a greater advantage to succeed over her counterparts of color. The woman cleaning her house is working hard as well, just in a different way. Is she lesser because she doesn’t have a housekeeper of her own?
For someone who bases her entire brand off of relating to women and offering them advice on situations that most women experience, it’s really disheartening to see her belittle the same women purchasing her books.
The whole point of self-help is trying to better oneself. International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that we should be lifting each other up and making our voices heard. It has never been about putting others down in order to amplify our own accomplishments.
The women she names in her caption are those who stood resilient in the face of adversity. Rachel Hollis having a housekeeper is definitely not on the same level as Harriet Tubman risking her life to lead enslaved people to freedom or Malala Yousafzai being shot multiple times simply for wanting to receive an education.
What We Can Learn From This
Hollis has apologized twice for the incident. In the first issue, she blames her team for not handling it better. In the second, she apologizes for what she said and claims she was not comparing herself to the women in her caption, nor was she diminishing other women’s success within racist systems.
As women, we all relate to one another on the basis that society has tried to oppress and silence us in every way possible. Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg says, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” We should be encouraging one another as we break into spaces we were once excluded from.
Of course, as a white content creator, I don’t fully understand the situation on a personal level. Because of this, I listened to some black voices and their opinions on the matter. I’ll link them below if you’re interested in researching this further.
Be kind, be bold, be brave, and don’t be afraid to be “relatable.”
Margaret Angèl on Youtube: Rachel Hollis, GIRL SHUT YOUR FACE | The Most Tone-Deaf TikTok EVER
Sheila Martinez, FIU contributor for HerCampus: 10 Ways You Can Use Your White Privilege to Empower Black Women and the Black Community
Michelle Jessica Wong, McGill contributor for HerCampus: White Privilege and Fragility: Acknowledging Your Privilege Is Not Activism
Black Lives Matter: Ways You Can Help and Educate Yourself
Victoria Alexander: Anti-Racist Resource Guide