Book Review: ‘Girl, Stop Apologizing’ by Rachel Hollis

Something funny happened after I finished the new book from multimedia business mogul Rachel Hollis, best known for the massive 2018 bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. After marking up my copy with marginalia, I nibbled at the bait: I pulled a notebook out of my desk, wrote “GOALS” on the front, and made a to-do list of accomplishments to focus on for 2019. And, wow, it felt good.

At this point, a tiny blonde woman appeared on my shoulder and said, “You go, girl!” before inviting me to attend the next RISE conference, which, okay, is sold out, but I could definitely be added to the email newsletter list and maybe get some VIP swag. I was a momentary convert to the religion of self-help—that durable American belief that with enough hard work and positive thinking, anyone can be the captain of her own destiny.

As Hollis writes in Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals (HarperCollins Leadership), “you can be whoever you want to be and achieve whatever you want to achieve.” It is Hollis’s ode to hustle—to “the desire to work as hard as you can to chase down a goal.” In three parts, with lots of practical tips and personal stories, Hollis names excuses to let go of, behaviors to adopt, and skills to acquire in order for women to get everything they want out of life.

According to the book’s reassurances, it doesn’t really matter what you want in life as long as you’re willing to work for it. “Embracing the idea that you can want things for yourself even if nobody else understands the whys behind them is the most freeing and powerful feeling in the world,” Hollis writes. As such, the book offers a breezy relativism in which no one can tell someone else what is right or best. “When other people’s expectations start to dictate your actions, you’re lost,” she Hollis.

Many women today hear the message that their ambition is suspect, that mothers who pursue much outside of motherhood are being selfish, and that submission is the core of Christian womanhood. So it’s no wonder why Hollis’s self-empowerment message is resonating. And is it ever: Six months after publicationGirl Wash Your Face had sold800,000 copies; the next RISE conference, held at the 99,000-square-foot Minneapolis Convention Center this summer, is sold out; and even before it was released, Girl, Stop Apologizing had 600 Goodreads ratings, most of them five stars.

Girl, Stop Apologizing is like Lean In if Sheryl Sandberg spent several pages discussing her breast augmentation surgery and quoting Jay-Z. But unlike Lean In, in which Sandberg shares many personal failures and hard lessons learned, Hollis’s story is a series of unmitigated successes. (In fact, there aren’t any stories of other women in the book.) To be sure, Hollis recalls moments of disappointment, like when Girl Wash Your Face initially didn’t appear on the New York Times bestseller list or her battle with mommy guilt as her business took off. But one way or another, all of Hollis’s stories serve to show that her hard work worked. It’s as if a friend sat you down over a glass of wine, looked you in the eyes, and said, “Girl, I did it—why can’t you?”

Even though it spurred me to clarify some long-term goals, Girl, Stop Apologizing exhausted me before I had the chance to work on them. I thought about recent research that shows spikes in anxiety among teenage girls and the crushing perfectionism that many professional women bring to the office. As someone who wrote a book about women’s work and ambition, I’d love for more women to pursue excellence in their daily work. Women areheld back by unfair double standards and false guilt.

I lament the cultural forces that make so many women need self-help tools in the first place. But personal excellence is humanly impossible without rhythms of rest—without daily routines where we cease striving to simply delight in being God’s image bearers rather than doing things to please God and others.

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Source: Christianity Today