Girl Wash Your Face: Summary & Review

girl wash your face

Girl Wash Your Face is a mix of Rachel Hollis’s autobiography and self-help advice, which includes empowering mindsets such as a sense of ownership, the belief that we can change our condition, and that the Lord will find a way for us.

Bullet Summary

  • We have all been fed a bunch of lies about what we can’t or can’t do
  • Wash your face and wake up to the reality of life: you’re in charge and can do whatever you please
  • People will treat you like you allow them to: demand the respect you need and deserve

Full Summary

Girl Wash Your Face is based on paragraphs relating to each one of the “lies” that the author lists.

But I didn’t find all of them deep enough to warrant a review, so I will give here a summary of what I felt were the most interesting takeaways:

Choose to Be Happy

Rachel Hollis powerfully stresses the idea that we need to take responsibility for our life and for our own happiness.

She talks about people -and herself- who travel and move looking for an elusive “change”, oping to stumble on happiness.

But moving, she says, doesn’t change who you are, only changes the view outside the window.

You must choose to be happy, grateful, and fulfilled.

Also read:

Moving doesn’t change who you are – only the view outside the window.

Rachel Hollis

Build People Up, Don’t Tear Them Down

Rachel Hollis tells the story of a former classmate of hers.

She was popular and cool.
And when she said she shaved her toes, Rachel couldn’t resist making fun of her and gossiping behind her back, even arriving to say “what kind of person shaves her toes”.

The crazy thing?

She shaved her toes too!

Hollis uses the story to reflect on the tendency most of us have to put people down and exhorts the readers to resist all urges of gossiping, spreading rumors and demeaning and devaluing the people around us.

I couldn’t agree more and I talked at length about it on this website. Also check:

Respect Yourself to Have People Respect You

Albeit she never calls it so, Rachel Hollis also goes into dating power dynamics.

She was head over heels for her first boyfriend while he instead took her for granted and rather mistreated her.

She was too naive, she says. She really thought they were going to get married and start a family and called him his boyfriend publicly.

Until… He made it clear they were not in a relationship.

She says:

I naively believed that if someone had seen your boobs and regularly went to dinner together, it meant we were a couple.

Meanwhile, this man didn’t even believe we were dating.

Eventually though she sobered up. She called him one night and told him that they were through.

She reminded him of his “friends” thing and told him she didn’t want to be friends with him at all because she deserved someone who treated her properly.

Then told him to disappear from her life and hung up.

And what happened right after that? He showed up at her door to be together. This time “for real”.

However, she says that her story is an exception.

And she wasn’t even angry at him because, and I really liked this:

People will treat you with as much or as little respect as you allow them to. And our dysfunctional relationship started the first time he treated me badly and I allowed it.

Rachel Hollis

And she says that sometimes, even if it breaks your heart, walking away is the biggest act of self-love you can have access to.

Also read:

Don’t Make Yourself Small to Make Others Comfortable

Rachel Hollis talks about the tendency of some women to make themselves small and diminish their own achievements and ambitions.

She says that God didn’t make you the way you are and give you your special talents so that you could “hide” them from the rest of the world.

And she encourages women to also pursue their careers if they so wish because a “woman’s job” is not solely to tend to the family. That’s a duty that is shared by both partners, she says.

Rachel Hollis says that something that helped was the “willingness to offend”, not in the sense of being rude, but in the sense that not everyone could approve of you and someone might end up not liking what you do. And that’s OK.

She also says that, after a bad review, she stopped reading reviews altogether.

My Note:
I personally disagree with this.
Growing and maturing also means embracing emotional vulnerability and having the courage to stare naked at our inadequacies. Even when they hurt.

Girl Wash Your Face Lies

These are the lies that many women tell themselves:

  • Something Else Will Make Me Happy
  • I’ll Start Tomorrow
  • I’m Not Good Enough
  • I’m Better Than You
  • Loving Him Is Enough for Me
  • No Is the Final Answer
  • I’m Bad at Sex
  • I Don’t Know How to Be a Mom
  • I’m Not a Good Mom
  • Should Be Further Along by Now
  • Other People’s Kids Are So Much Cleaner/Better Organized/More Polite
  • I Need to Make Myself Smaller
  • I’m Going to Marry Matt Damon
  • I’m a Terrible Writer
  • I Will Never Get Past This
  • I Can’t Tell the Truth
  • I Am Defined by My Weight
  • I Need a Drink
  • There’s Only One Right Way to Be
  • I Need a Hero
girl wash your face

Girl Wash Your Face Quotes

  • I was so nervous. I was worried if he would try to hold my hand or kiss me or… BOTH??
  • “I hope you’re not one of those girls who’s afraid of eating on a date” he asked me. “it annoyed me (..) I responded by eating more than half the pizza we were sharing”
  • For clarity’s sake, let me spell out: at that point, we weren’t having sex. But honestly, that was a technicality.
  • Sometimes choosing to walk away, even if means breaking your own heart, can be the biggest act of self-love you can have access to.
  • Comparison is the death of joy, and the only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday
  • You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are

Real Life Applications

Demand The Respect You Deserve

Rachel’s happy marriage showed that sometimes people are good… As long as you demand the respect you deserve. But if you allow them to disrespect you, then even good people can turn bad.

Ask For and Accept Help

This is something that I need to work on. Especially for men, who value independence, asking and accepting help is a skill to master that can help us go much farther.

Embrace The Good of Whatever Bad Happened to You

Rachel Hollis shares Tony Robbins’ wisdom that if we can bear wit the pain of what happened to us, then we can also admit of what good it did to us.

She says that, indeed, it’s not easy sometimes because it makes us feel bad to admit that something came out of tragedy.

But also became stronger after she found the body of her brother dead.

That was very deep and I prefer this way of dealing with pain as compared to the darkness of David Goggins’ Can’t Hurt Me.


God Has Perfect Timing…? What If Not… ?

Girl Wash Your Face is a Christian book –albeit it’s been criticized by the Christian community-.

I don’t question the religious bits, but the “perfect timing” to me is an example of the “personal God” who intervenes in people’s lives. And I think that can be a harmful belief. What if the timing doesn’t work for you? Then God is not helping you?

No, if there is a God, I don’t believe in a God who micro-manages people’s lives.

Assumes That What Worked For The Author Will Work For The Readers

At times it feels like Girl Wash Your Face falls into the mantra common to many self-help books that seems to say “look at me and how successful I am. And if I have done it, rest assured the same will happen to you too”.

That’s bogus of course.

Simplistic “Feel Good” Advice That Shifts Blame To “Others”

It’s funny that the author says people should take responsibility for themselves.

But then, the author also says that all lies have been perpetrated by “society”, “the media”, “our families” and even “the devil himself”.

What about biology, psychology, evolutionary psychology and sociology?
And what about, well… Truth and fair feelings based on that truth?

For example, people care about their weight because other people do, yes.
But that’s not a lie, that’s the truth.
So an effective approach may also include shedding some kilos.

Sometimes The Feel Good Advice Miminimizes Reality & Fair Feelings

Connected to the above, telling people that all the limitations we feel are “lies” is a cop-out.

Honest improvement often must start with a realistic, sometimes brutal assessment of reality.

Yes we need a strong and antifragile ego to do it, but anything else is the equivalent of spray-panting a tu… You know what I mean.

In my opinion, this isn’t good self-development advice.

Too Long On Some Personal Life Bits

I liked Rachel Hollis sharing the stories of her dating and marriage.
But the part when she goes into all the details of her adoption efforts, not as much. I found it too long winded and sometimes even too complaining.

But then again, that’s also probably because I write about dating and I am interested in it but have little interest in adoption.

How Is Hollis’ Digital Reach In The Millions?

Rachel Hollis says that her “digital reach” is in the millions. Yet her website is only marginally more popular than this website -and only after “Girl Wash Your Face” went viral.

So that seemed a bit of an exaggeration -also read “How to Lie With Statistics“.


Positive and Uplifting

Girl Wash Your Face is a positive and sort of uplifting book -in its own way, if you agree with that view of the world-. It can be effective both for motivation and deeper mindsets.

Video Summary

And here is a 5 minutes recap and review of Girl Wash Your Face:


Girl Wash Your Face is an OK book mixing some popular and wisdesperad self-help wisdom with Christian beliefs and a general appeal to “trusting that things will turn out fine”.

Rachel Hollis says that the principal message of “Girl Wash Your Face” is that we are all responsible for who we become and for what happens in our lives.

That’s a strong message, and she delivers it in a prose which is both vulnerable, deep and even entertaining.

On the negative side, there is nothing new here.

If you’re a fan of the author, you may like it.
Otherwise, I can’t recommend it to an audience that is looking for an edge and for self-development that is both effective and time-efficient.

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