I Just Watched Rachel Hollis' "Documentary" and I Have Some Thoughts
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So yes. I took one for the team, guys. I sat, surrounded by mounds of folded laundry awaiting it s place in our closet, and I turned on “Made for More” (affiliate link because someone should pay me a few cents to watch this thing)…the “Documentary” released by The Hollis Company…Dave and Rachel Hollis. Popular lifestyle gurus. Mindset Coaches. Bloggers. Whatever.
I have made it absolutely no secret that I have a rather acute….let’s say…distaste for Rachel Hollis (the brand. Not the person. I don’t really KNOW the person, obviously). I think she’s exactly what’s wrong with influencer culture and her attachment to Multi-Level Marketing companies such as Lularoe that so obviously prey on women, primarily, and suck their financial stability dry really irks me.
But, I always want to try and give people the benefit of the doubt (I swear. I do.) And….sociologically based research and writing puts a little tickle in my tummy. I nerd out for that stuff.
So here we are.
Made for More.
The first thing I notice is the Amazon description of this “Documentary” (and why I put that in quotes will be fully explained). They call Rachel a mix between Tina Fey and Tony Robbins. Which is a huge insult to Tina Fey and other wildly talented, funny, and creative people if you ask me. Tony Robbins? Yeah. I can get behind that.
But honey, no. A few wink-wink asides to the audience and some story about yogurt in a sock (ok) does not make you on par with one of the greatest female comedians in history. Dave, come get your “girl”.
But, maybe that was Amazon. Not the Hollis Co. Maybe.
I wanted to hate this movie. Oh damn did I want to hate it. I’m gonna make that clear from the get go. My view is entirely biased and I recognize that. Still….I forged ahead.
My problems with Rachel Hollis and her entire platform run DEEP. She set out, I believe, from day one chasing fame and fortune. She pivoted to where the money was….first with being a party planner…then to food blogging…then to being a body-positive viral sensation who dared wear a bikini….then to being a guru/mogul/lifestyle expert. I don’t have a problem with chasing success….really. We are all just trying to get by. Some of us hustle harder than others.
It’s the consistent, inauthentic pivoting that doesn’t ring true.
Hollis has ascended to the highest, blue-check verified echelon of social media standing on the backs of those who came before her….taking their words….taking their ideas….taking their motivational speeches and repackaging them in mermaid hair and false lashes.
I have a BIG problem with plagiarism….and the fact that Rachel Hollis does not is her biggest flaw, if you ask me. The fact that many of her supporters also do not find issue with plagiarism adds to the flaw. Either they’ve ingested SO much Kool-Aid they’ve lost all critical thinking ability….or they TRULY believe that recycled content that was created by others is inspirational “girlbossing”. Both ideas are nearly too much for me to stomach.
From what I’ve been able to gather in my (admitted limited….because let’s face it…I have a job) digging, Rachel Hollis used to be pretty relatable. Like, REALLY relatable…not this faux “curated imperfection” relatable we’ve got going on now. (OMG, I’m SUCH a nerd! TEE HEE! ….Stop it. Just stop.)
She used to be a little fluffier, sure!
She used to have this cute little mom-bob haircut and she would do these videos where she would make a craft or a cake or whatever.
Then, she decided to take a picture of herself in a bikini, strategically place it on the internet (because you know that’s what happened, let’s be real)…and cue viral sensation. So real. So true. So mom.
I missed this whole thing because I had no damn idea who this woman was prior to her book….but I can imagine a LOT of women saw that and didn’t really see a rather fit woman in a bikini with a few stretch marks (so brave)….but a mom lucky enough to be on a beach vacation in a monogrammed swimsuit.
So, this “documentary”.
Let’s just be honest with ourselves, here. This was a commercial. It was completely orchestrated by Dave (her husband) and Rachel. This wasn’t an unflinching look at the rise of a mega-influencer (please, someone make that movie). This was a 2 hour long COMMERCIAL. And damn if I didn’t watch the whole thing.
Rachel kicks things off reminding us that she “started from the bottom, ya’ll”….if the bottom, in this case, is a solid marriage with a Disney higher-up and the ability to throw $40K at an idea to see what happens…..but hey, everyone’s experience is their own. Guess that’s your bottom.
Her core message isn’t exactly FLAWED. Every entrepreneur in the WORLD has the crazy idea that they can rise above their circumstances. We are ALL insane. Every last one of us. You have to be. Dream big….look for better….leap off that hill….assemble your wings on the way down….all that stuff that looks really good in script font on coffee cups sold at Hobby Lobby.
None of this is groundbreaking.
The way Rachel SELLS it, however, is.
She calls her community her “tribe” (and I don’t really have the time nor the space here to go into all of that…but can we stop calling them tribes?)
She is pouncing on the idea that women want community. She SAYS this community is for everyone, but take one look at the pans of the audience and it becomes ABUNDANTLY clear who this community is for.
For one, it’s for Christians. She says it’s not. It is. She published her book under a Christian publisher AND references “God’s plan” numerous times. I don’t have any issue with this, really…but let’s be honest. You can’t appeal to EVERYONE just because you want access to all of their disposable income. If you’re gonna go the Jesus route, tap into that market head on, Rachel.
Jim and Tammy Faye were good enough proof that the Holy Rollers really like to give money to people that tell them they can do anything.
When Rachel’s movie plays inspirational, girl-power music…it cuts to a sweeping image of audience members putting their hands in the air like a praise chorus has lit their Jesus fire from within. They close their eyes and they cry and it’s all very Joel Osteen Mega-Church.
For two, it’s for primarily white women. They did a pretty decent job throwing in some people of color, but the audience was overwhelmingly white.
Rachel espouses that she wants to “equalize people”….but she’s up there. And they’re down there. And she’s YELLING at them that they are MADE FOR MORE without really knowing WHO they are as people, what they do, where their hearts are.
But, I suppose, if they’re willing to shell out between $200 - $1800 PER SEAT for this shin-dig, you can rightly assume they’re probably unhappy with their current station in life OR they simply want to be immersed in the warm glow of internet success.
(Just for some context, HAMILTON didn’t cost me that much)
Lambs to the slaughter.
Rachel says that the women at this event are “a good example of the population”.
However, at $200 for a BASIC ticket to this thing…you’re leaving a lot of the population out in the cold right off the bat. Per the Kaiser Family Foundation, in Hollis’ own state of Texas, 12% of the non-elderly female population lives BELOW the poverty line.
They’re certainly not going to be picking up this universal conference message (and if they watch this movie, they’re basically only getting little snippets).
Rachel says that women HATE the way they look, as evidenced by an exercise she does where she has the women fill out checklists of items about themselves…then pass those around and allow other women to “stand” for their truths. So, Rachel calls out “who hates the way they look?” and the women who have checklists in their hands indicating this stand up.
It’s an admittedly powerful moment when nearly ALL the women in the room stand up for this.
The powerful moment is kind of ruined, however, even with Rachel’s teary performance….when you realize Rachel regularly shows off fake lashes….fake hair….and pigeon-toed influencer poses online to highlight her thigh-gap. Her nails are expertly done and she has glowing, clear skin and is regularly showing herself getting her makeup done and hair done and having fancy photo shoots and jet-setting around….you get the picture.
It’s kind of hard to LEARN from the person who is probably contributing greatly to WHY you feel like shit about yourself.
But, you know, that’s kinda on you, boo.
One of the other GLARING issues I take with Ms. Hollis is that she passes off issues like anxiety and depression as if they are simply trendy Instagram talking points and not, in many cases, pervasive medical issues that should be approached as such.
Mama, we have anxiety. We get the sads sometimes. Cute, neatly packaged anxiety and depression like everyone has and let me tell you how to beat it!
She talks about experiencing anxiety but that she, in so many words, pulled herself up by her leopard-print bootstraps and drank enough water and loved herself enough to beat it back.
All well and good, but it frames it in a way for the audience that if you can’t just beat back anxiety and depression with a good dose of marathon running and some new boobs, somehow that’s not worth even addressing. You are, likely, on another plane of broken and should just not bother signing up for day two, honey.
You are different.
Rachel Hollis is NOT a counselor. She’s not a physician. She’s not psychiatrist. She is completely Google-taught, she’ll be the first to tell you this. She doesn’t have one credential to her name that makes anything she says about mental health worth writing down in your rose gold leaf notebook.
But people did.
She doesn’t mention medication in her inspirational speech. She does, however, mention Xanax in her book. I think it’s framed more as a “Mommy’s Little Helper” than a lifeline, however.
To Hollis, mental illness sounds more like a character flaw….and if you just LOVED yourself enough….if you just BELIEVED in your dreams with enough gumption….it can be overcome.
The thing is, I believe that RACHEL believes she is doing something worthwhile here. She believes she is giving tangible advice. She believes she is helping people (though, I strongly feel she is really more interested in helping RACHEL than others at this point).
She says in the movie that she’s not “interested in fluffy Pinterest quote wisdom” but that is EXACTLY what she’s serving up and selling at obscene prices.
It’s great to have an idea. To WANT to inspire. But, girl, you STOLE quotes from other, better writers. You maybe moved a word around or two, but you built this little empire of yours on the BACKS of fluffy Pinterest quote wisdom. Make no mistake.
Throughout the viewing, I found myself AGREEING with a few of the nuggets she was throwing out from the stage. The problem is, none of these nuggets were anything worth $200 a ticket to hear. They can ALL be found….for free….on Pinterest. Rachel says HERSELF that these women don’t need her to reach their goals.
So, what are people paying for? They are paying for proximity to what they perceive to be greatness. Therein lies the real problem. It’s all a ruse.
I do believe that with some of the worthwhile ideas Rachel has in her arsenal (her talk about taking 1 hour, 5 days a week, to focus solely on yourself is something I’d like to dive more into personally), she could really do better.
I think this has ALL gotten the best of her. The Instagram fame. The viral nature of her work. The look. The feel. The acclaim. All of it. It has gotten the best of her in every way….where now she has stooped to complaining about her “fans” online, deleting well-meaning detractors, and ranting about “mean people” and waitresses that didn’t know who she was.
But, you know what. She’s a millionaire with a best selling book and I’m not, so what the hell do I know?
Rachel likes to say that “other people’s opinions of her are none of her business”. Well, actually, Rupaul likes to say that too…but that doesn’t really bother Rachel.
What Ms. Hollis is failing to grasp is that other people’s opinions are her MAIN business. It’s her ONLY business. If people’s opinion of her isn’t favorable…..if they don’t believe what they see and hear and want to BE her….she HAS no business.
She, as a brand, ceases to exist.
At the end of the movie, after the credits, Rachel gives a little “mini-class” of 5 actionable items to focus on in order to build a better life. These included groundbreaking revelations like keep your house clean, be healthy, get up earlier, etc.
Honestly, the whole movie should have just been this 30 minutes. FAR more worthwhile.
Of course, she then screwed the whole thing up by showing a commercial for her next book.
It just kept going and going.
Eventually I just wanted her to STOP. TALKING. She talked in circles….repeating herself ad nauseam. The same talking points. The same Pinterest words of wisdom.
Here’s the thing. My take-away, if you will.
I do not begrudge Rachel Hollis a career. I don’t even begrudge her selling education. She’s obviously a skilled marketer and people could learn a TON from her wisdom on selling her brand, social media, etc.
This is useful information.
What I do take issue with is her delving into areas where she is seeing a golden goose, whether she has the skill set or credentials to speak on that topic or not.
You can’t just copy Tony Robbins’ schtick and BAM, you’re a guru.
You can’t just tell people to drink more water and believe in themselves when there are REAL issues of depression, anxiety, and pervasive mental illness out there.
You can’t say you’re speaking to the “everywoman” out there when you’re only really speaking to a small percentage.
You can’t just take words from other people and slap your name on them…collect a paycheck…go back to your million dollar home and sleep well at night.
At least you shouldn’t.
About 2 years ago I started having a REAL problem with the NOISE of everything. I wanted AWAY. I wanted quiet. I wanted to stop worrying about hair, clothes, posting about my life because I chose a profession where apparently you have to do that or PERISH. Image was everything. Curation. Color scheme. Like me. Like my life. My house. My clothes. My kids. My relationship. My mommy tummy. Share it. like it. Make it viral.
Make me rich.
You’re yelling into a void just hoping you can yell LOUD enough to eek out a living.
Suddenly, it’s all there. Right in front of me.
I can have a million dollar home.
I can be debt free.
I can have regular shopping trips, hair extensions, lashes, and tans.
That girl has it and she says she’s JUST LIKE ME so that can be me too. I just have to want it enough. Dream hard enough. Get up at 5AM. Run on the treadmill. Drink that shake. Take that vitamin. I need to know what SHE knows
**** slaps down credit card *****
I have everything I want or need and sometimes I don’t feel like it’s enough.
I’m more insecure now at 38 than I was at 17.
At 17…I KNEW who I was. None of it mattered. It didn’t influence the way I earned a living.
The American Dream is wildly bastardized and I think people like Rachel Hollis have seized the opportunity to sell the new, albeit darker version.
We are in a desperate time where people my age and younger can’t REALLY obtain what generations before us did in terms of status, or savings….of debt free-living or upward mobility. The system is broken….but if you ask Rachel Hollis, only we are in charge of our station in life.
I used to believe this.
I used to think you are where you put yourself.
Maybe my issue with Rachel Hollis stems a little from guilt over prior thinking? Possible? Absolutely.
But, I know the system is broken. That the ability to dream is a privilege. That people like Rachel didn’t actually start from nothing. That Pinterest quotes are not going to change the world.
We are all just doing the best we can in the moment. Things like “Made for More” showing up on our TV’s….our phones….our feeds….it’s toxic and I can only hold out hope that, perhaps, one person will read this and find other ways of motivating themselves for change.
May I suggest Pinterest?
I mean, if anything, it saves you two hours of time.