My Introduction to Girl, Wash Your Face
When I asked a few weeks ago on my personal Facebook page if anyone had a copy of Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face, my inquiry was met with many varied replies. There were those who loved it and several replies of people echoing concerns about content. A few shared links to articles/blogs listing the reasons for caution in reading the book from a Christian perspective. And, some of my friends asked for my review. So, here are my thoughts. I am not looking for a debate, this is just my reply to those who wondered.
First, I think that you will find, in this book, what you are looking to find. If you read it looking for content to condemn based on flawed theology, you will find a bit of that. People more schooled and who have already gone slowly through the book to point these out have already done it, so I won’t repeat their findings. You can read some of those shared with me below.
For those who take offense to the opinions shared in the above links, I understand why the messages could be frustrating. I will say this in their defense, though. When an author, who professes to be a believer, as Rachel Hollis does, publishes a book with “the leader in the Christian nonfiction publishing realm,” that author opens himself/herself to critique of their use of scripture and theology from other believers. I think the writers of the links above had some legitimate points and authentic concerns, but I also feel like we can easily miss good content when we are focused on things to disagree about.
Why I Wanted to Read Girl, Wash Your Face
With that out of the way, I want to explain why I was drawn to this book for those who had concerns about its content. I am in a new phase of life that has left me slightly bewildered and a little melancholy. I feel that I was created to be more than a wife and mother, but I am in a season where those roles still dominate the majority of my time, and I am wrestling with balancing that reality and searching for where the part of me that is not a wife or mother fits. Plus, I have five kids which equals 20 years of college tuition in our future, and I would like to contribute more than just emotional support.
A lovely friend invited me to have coffee with her one morning and she was talking with me about her business and how she works it into her family life. Because she is the kind of friend who I can melt in front of, that is what I did. Lots of words, some left unsaid for years, poured from my heart and eyes. And, she shared some words that had encouraged her and that encouraged me. They were Rachel’s words and I wanted to hear more.
Because I had not heard of her before, I knew nothing of her faith. I was unaware of the theological concerns surrounding her blog, speaking and book until I was asking for a copy to borrow. I was looking for a personal growth book not a spiritual growth book. I stand by my statements at the time. “I am not always a fan of self-help/self-improvement because I find that many are about the power of me within me rather than the power of God within me and His ability to transform me.” And, “I find that spiritual growth books that are wildly successful usually lack on the truth side of spiritual growth. Jesus’ message of grace AND truth isn’t generally wildly popular.” I read through all the shared sources above, and made the decision that I was going to read this book because I feel like even though I knew the concerns, I didn’t feel convicted not to. I hope that had I felt the Holy Spirit saying “no,” that I would have obeyed.
Also, I wanted to read it because I was looking for what she is selling in the self-care and having a dream and gumption to go after it section of womanhood. My friend, Janel, blogs over at A Generous Grace and I had stumbled on a blog post of hers with a quote from her husband that has stuck with me. “You cannot just push yourself forward in obligation toward your family and pretend your passions don’t matter. Women who do that are in danger of a couple of things. They could end up jaded and bitter…or as Pharisees, doing the right thing on the outside and empty or dead on the inside.” I am on a journey of learning to pursue my passions.
So, I borrowed the book and started reading.
Here are my thoughts…
- Rachel is proud of all that she has accomplished and will tell you about it many times in this book. I think she has busted her rear-end and respect the amazing effort that has gone into, and things she has sacrificed, to build her empire. I imagine to some this is admirable and to others, it will feel like a lack of humility. Most readers will not come to achieve near the level of professional success that she has and I did not find that lesser successes in the eyes of the world were celebrated, meaning, some could walk away feeling less than and discouraged at the lack of what they have accomplished so far. A lot of that will depend on what the reader wants to find, encouragement or discouragement, glass half full or half empty.
- The links above do not lie about questionable theology when pertaining to egocentric “me” focus.
- Her three motivators, hanging on the back of her closet door are a cover of Forbes magazine, which she wants to, herself, grace one day, a picture of a vacation home in Hawaii that she wants to own by the time she is 40, and a picture of Beyonce. While I can understand how these may appear superficial and have nothing to do with discipleship or furthering Christ’s kingdom, I couldn’t help but wonder, what the commentary would be if similar words had been written by a man rather than a woman. Perhaps if she had left the Bible and God out of the book, people wouldn’t have taken such issue with this. But, I think she wanted her faith, as she knows it, intertwined with her story in print, because it is real to her and motivates her, even if not all believers agree with her perspective.
- While I don’t agree with everything she had to say on the issues of weight, marriage, exercise, or some of the other topics she addresses, they weren’t presented as spiritual topics on the whole, though anyone can bring random verses into an argument to “prove’ their thoughts are “right” and thus make them into spiritual topics. I just look at my differences of opinions at times to be in light of different life experiences.
- I found her to be a cheerleader for women. While some may find that as a negative, for the purposes I read her book, it encouraged me. I got out of it what I was hoping for, encouragement, some hope for the future of my dreams, some motivation and a pep talk.
- Did you know she is a pastor’s kid? As a fellow PK, many of her thoughts resonated with me.
- She shares scripture through the book and for the most part, I felt that they were used appropriately. Please give me grace if you found this to be different. I didn’t take notes or look up every verse she quoted.
- Rachel also shares a lot about their experience in the foster care and adoption process. She says that their adoption came from a place of trying to fulfill God’s command to care for widows and orphans. I think the more people sharing this message, the better. The foster care system and their personal experiences are painted in a fairly negative light however, and their domestic adoption was private rather than through the foster system.
- This book still spoke some good things to me despite some of the egocentric/theology concerns.
So, do I recommend Girl, Wash Your Face?
My reply depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a pick me up and encouragement to grow personally, professionally, and a push to follow a dream, then yes, I recommend this book. It is similar to other personal growth books in that respect.
If you are looking for a spiritual growth book, I don’t recommend this book. I did not find that this was a book was specifically meant for that purpose. Rachel professes to be a Christian, but I did not personally sense that this book’s purpose was to draw readers closer to God.
If you are convicted to stay clear of this book because of the reviews above, then don’t read it. I am sure there are other books out there that have similar encouragements. I would love any recommendations for those.