Summary of Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be is a personal development book by Rachel Hollis. She tackles how we can break free from the lies telling us we don’t deserve the life we want.

In Girl, Wash Your Face, Hollis blends her Christian upbringing with her less traditional spiritual values to explain why we deserve to be happy. Moreover, she urges us to understand that we are solely responsible for our own happiness; no one else is to blame if we are dissatisfied with where we are in life. Accepting that we have the power to choose our own life, Hollis explains, is the first step toward self-fulfillment. Only when we feel fulfilled, can we find ourselves in the Lord.

In this book, Hollis tries to empower women to take control of their lives by understanding that what becomes of their lives is ultimately upon them. This is to mean that they have the power to dictate some outcomes in their lives. As such, she chooses to teach women how to overcome this false information by sharing some of her personal experiences. Thus, each chapter in this book begins with her narrating an experience she once had, and how she improved herself from the experience. In the end, she provides a couple of tips on how she was able to overcome these lies.

The book is divided into 20 chapters, and begins with an orientation of the readers on the life of the author, and what is to be expected from the chapters of the book. The book is based on one truth that ‘people have control over who they become’, and 20 lies, and misconceptions about one’s life. Every chapter, therefore, begins with one lie that the author once believed about her life (such as ‘I am not good enough’), which she confronted with the truth, and how she reformed from the bad feeling she had through believing the lie (Abounding Grace, 2018). In the current context, therefore, the book addresses an audience of people who might not necessarily have gone through the same life as Hollis but who are struggling with beliefs about themselves, that hold them back from living a successful, fulfilling, and productive life. For example, a woman who feels she is not a good mother today is encouraged to believe the truth that it is up to her to become the good mother she would want to be by taking steps such as joining groups where she can learn best practices from. Hollis (2018) categorically says that it is not necessary for a mother to buy children’s love with food, and gifts simply because it is easier than parenting.

Chapter 1

This chapter begins by stating the first lie that the author had to confront, that is, ‘something else will make me happy’ (Hollis, 2018). Hollis lived a life full of challenges that denied her the opportunity to be happy but found comfort in a misconception that when she grew up, she would find something or some other life that will make her happy. She narrates several struggles in life that made her unhappy both as a child and as a grown up. For example, she wet her pants while playing with friends, and had to douse herself with a bottle of water so that her friends could not know what happened (Hollis, 2018).

This simple act made her hate herself because she had not accepted the person she was. She also grew up in a family with challenges characterized by cries, and fights (Hollis, 2018), an environment that could traumatize a child. Hollis (2018) states that “father handled stress with anger while mother handled stress by going to bed for weeks at a time”. This then means that there was no environment of peace, and sobriety but a traumatic environment that was not conducive for the development of a child. The demise of her brother (who committed suicide) compounded her problems. Based on the photographs she posts on social media with her husband, however, people see her as a person leading a relatively better life (Hollis, 2018).

Chapter 2

Chapter two is about how one can honor promises he/she makes to himself/herself, thus being able to stop a habit and start a new one. The chapter begins by stating the second lie that Hollis believed, that is, ‘I will start tomorrow’. She proceeds to gives examples, and scenarios (of both herself and her friends) of struggles with keeping one’s own promise, as a result of believing the lie. For example, she narrates how she started, and failed to continue with several programs including plans to attend gym, marathon, and walking to work (Hollis, 2018). Like Hollis, many women also start such plans with good intentions but find it difficult to continue because they find it normal to dishonor the promises they make to themselves. While one may want to honor the promises they make to themselves, they find the urge to break the promises irresistible. The distractions in life are among the factors that induce the urge of reverting to an old habit thus abandoning a promise such as never to take diet coke again. Hollis (2018) gives an example of a woman who promises herself not to take a certain meal but goes ahead to take it on her child’s birthday. The child’s birthday, therefore, becomes the distraction.

Chapter 3

The lie that Hollis had to confront in this chapter is the belief that she is not good enough. She states that she is a workaholic, a problem she developed while she was still young. Her parents had marital problems that really affected how she was brought up (Hollis, 2018). Because she was self-sufficient while still young made parents to ignore her, not unless she managed a great achievement such as attaining grade A in a test (Hollis, 2018). To be ignored until she made an achievement out of the ordinary made her always want to work more to achieve something to get attention. In her words, she states that “what this taught me as a child was that… in order to be loved, I needed to produce something” (Hollis, 2018).

Chapter 4

This chapter concerns itself with confronting the misconception that one is always better than others. The author begins by narrating how she teased a colleague in school for having hairy toes. This was quite embarrassing to her because she gossiped about another person’s hairy toes yet she also struggled to shave the hairs on her toes (Hollis, 2018). As a grown-up, she came to wonder why women have the habit of gossiping and judging others yet it does not benefit them in any way. A story is also narrated of a couple traveling with two boys on a plane bound for Chicago. One of the boys keeps crying in protest because the mother has denied him permission to run up, and down in the craft (Hollis, 2018). Although everybody is disturbed by the noise made by the little boy, it is Hollis who judges the mother for not being able to discipline the child well (Hollis, 2018). Like Hollis, many women find themselves struggling with the habit of judging others even though it prevents them from relating to others well.

Chapter 5

The chapter opens up with a vivid description of how the narrator met the guy she loves. She softly speaks of how she met the guy, and how their relationship grew through texting and e-mailing. In addition, the narrator provides a clear description of the different dates she attended with her boss’s friend. In addition, the chapter shares profound information pertaining to the thoughts which she had when she attended different dates. Some fundamental thoughts which she held include total love for the guy, having babies, and a family with the individual. On the other hand, even though she felt, and knew she was very young she was still optimistic that the relationship would still work out after the various dates which they attended. Despite the fact that Dave considered her a booty call at the end she realizes her worth, and this cause Dave to come back begging. In essence, the chapter stresses the importance of an individual understanding her worth.

Chapter 6

The chapter adequately provides profound information on how to react once one faces an element of rejection. In her understanding, Hollis believes that one is gifted the ability to determine what to accept, and reject, and this is the reason sometimes she refuses to be a public speaker, or when faced with rejection she refuses to accept and looks for other alternatives to address the issue (Hollis). In essence, the writer aims to share the perspective that even though ‘yes’ is normally considered as the easiest answer, by learning how to say ‘no’ one is in a better position to achieve the greater.

Chapter 7

In this chapter, Hollis affirms that there are loud unrealistic talks about sex, especially among women. The author talks about how people are ashamed of sharing knowledge on sex, and how the public will judge her based on the step which she has undertaken. Majorly, the author talks about how the thirst for sex in marriage fades as time go by, and this serves as one of the elements which destroy the foundation of a relationship (Hollis). Thus, in the excerpt, the author shares some elements she used in order to improve her sex life. For instance, she attempted to redefine sex in her own mind, and this worked to improve her sex life.

Chapter 8

In this chapter, the author shared a lot pertaining to the difficulties which come along with pregnancy. She further shares some fears which she had during the different pregnant periods. For instance, she had a fear of how to react if the umbilical cord got wrapped around the child’s neck. She shares some life changes which she had to undergo, and how it affected her thinking. In addition, she reiterates some elements which made her overcome the troubles during her pregnancy period.

Chapter 9

The chapter shares a lot about the problems which come along while trying to be a good mother. Hollis notes that at first, she felt she was unable to undertake the required responsibility, and the entire society was expecting her to be an exceptional mother. Furthermore, she states that being a good mother involves tracking all the schedules of the children, and ensuring they are strictly followed. In addition, she points out that motherhood is a period of uncertainty, and thus as a mother one is required to try out things which have not been attempted previously. She also advises that it is not prudent to compare one family with another as this will work to impede the ability of one as a mother (Hollis). In essence, throughout the entire experience, Hollis believes that one of the key elements of becoming a good mother is learning through the process, and following some major evidence-based practices.

Chapter 10

The chapter commences by highlighting that not all the aging people are happy about celebrating their birthdays, but the irony comes about when the author affirms that she likes celebrating her birthday, and that is the reason she plans for it months ahead. Most women dislike aging because they feel that they had not achieved what they had planned, or dreamt of when they were young. Besides, they feel like they have underachieved, and have not been able to get all the things they fancied they would achieve in life (Hollis). For instance, Hollis shares the story of how they tried to adopt an Ethiopian child for years, the experiences they underwent after taking the babies from foster care, and later being deprived the joy of being a mother.
It is evident that the author had a lot of plans about being a mother, but soon after, her plans were unsuccessful. With all these happening, she chooses to seek spiritual intervention, and this forced her to develop faith. Through faith, she was able to become a mother, and from experience, she learned that it is prudent to make achievable goals instead of setting time limits. Additionally, formulating a list of the things one has achieved is an important aspect of building esteem, and being proud of the aging process.

Chapter 11

The section comprehensively shares a lot about the troubles associated with raising a pre-schooler. The author shares several insights on how everyone is living in fear, and chaos in their undertakings. In essence, the author affirms that everybody is striving to achieve something, but one is not contented with the approach he or she is supposed to undertake (Hollis). As a result, she points out that there are various things which one can consider, or put into practice when faced with confusion in their lives. The firm acts she advocates include ignoring the chaos and keeping on working harder to achieve a specific goal. Naturally, chaos tends to bring stress, and once a person focuses on such negative energy, she ends up bringing some elements of stress to herself which work to impede the activity of raising the children as expected. Another act is battling the current chaos by using different mechanisms. For instance, when faced with turmoil Hollis opts for cleaning as this works to distract her from the current situation. The third method of handling the chaos is through drowning in the case. All these aspects may work, or fail to work, but it is the responsibility of the individual to determine the best solution to partake depending on the situation.

Chapter 12

The section captures the importance of not requiring approval from other individuals about you. Hollis affirms that being a people-pleaser is not a positive quality which one should uphold. In essence, the chapter aims to provide the notions that it is important to portray the importance of defending one’s values. For instance, Hollis wanted to make a bold statement about herself through a tattoo but was very afraid of the opinions of other people. On the other hand, it is evident that making a bold statement enables an individual to be comfortable with her decisions irrespective of how other people choose to view her.

Besides, the excerpt encourages the need to socialize with gurus who will provide positive perspectives on how to deal with various pressing issues in a person’s life. Additionally, the gurus offer adequate wisdom which helps a person to reason and thus makes sound judgments about the different occurrences in life. In general, the author stresses the need for incorporating spirituality in any decision which one hopes to make. Furthermore, the only person who can change the dimension of his understanding is the individual, and not the masses, or the public.

Chapter 13

This chapter begins with Hollis expressing her obsession with Matt Damon, a celebrity whom she had never met. As a matter of fact, she notes that there were periods in her life where her greatest plan was to “Find Matt Damon somewhere in LA, and lock it in” (Hollis, 2018). Luckily, she was able to bump into Matt while she was working at a party for the Miramax, however, she did not get a date with him or a marriage proposal. This was not the only dream that she had, and she was as equally obsessed with ensuring that all her dreams came true. For instance, when she was obsessed with owning a Louis Vuitton purse, she worked extra hard to raise the amount needed. Nonetheless, she came to reconcile with the fact that some of the imaginations she had were only part of her childish daydreams. This, however, hardly directed her from pursuing her imaginations.

Chapter 14

After publishing her first book, titled ‘Party Girl’, the author notes that she received her first bad review. Consequently, this had adverse effects on her as she experienced what she termed as “critique grief” (Hollis, 2018). At first, she was in denial and kept going through this review, and things became worse until she entered the phase of acceptance. However, she began having doubts and thought that maybe she was a terrible writer. Over time, she came to the realization that she could not allow people’s opinion to define who she is. She understood that it was possible for her to write terribly, but learned to take constructive criticism, and push herself to grow as a writer. With this, she would not allow a bad review to characterize her as a bad writer. She also came to understand that there are different audiences for different materials when it came to arts. As such, what some people would not find appealing to them, other people would be fascinated by it.

Chapter 15

The chapter begins with the author narrating her experience with her big brother Ryan. Ryan was more than a brother to her, as he constantly played with her, and he was her best friend. As an adolescent, he became her protector and trained her on how to handle children who bullied her. These two were very close, however, when she was twelve years old, her brother developed a mental condition which led to his demise as he took his own life shortly after. He got access to a handgun, and in his condition, he ended his life.

The couple of years that followed thereafter were traumatizing for her, given that she was the one who found the body. She went for therapies, however, she found herself obsessively planning out her husband, and children’s funerals as a “sick coping mechanism” due to fear that they would die too (Hollis, 2018). After a couple of years, she understood that it was not in her best interest to concentrate on the trauma and the way she felt about the tragedy. She had to look for a silver lining, that is, the good which comes out of the negative experiences as well.

Chapter 16

In this chapter, she begins with a question which a majority of people ask themselves, “Do I have the courage to tell you this whole story?” (Hollis, 2018). She expresses her doubts about sharing experiences as she feels that keeping it close to her heart, it would hurt less if it remains hidden. Nevertheless, she proceeds to narrate her story of how she, and her husband planned to adopt a little girl when she was pregnant with their son Ford. She had been placed in the adoption program in Ethiopia, for two years when the Ethiopian government decided to halt the program. Six months later, the government took a step further, and “closed adoptions to the United States completely” (Hollis, 2018). As a result, they enrolled in the foster-to-adopt program and received a medically frail child. Unfortunately, the department did not have any knowledge of their medical condition, and after three months the child died. However, after a short period, they received twins whom they were going to foster, but this joy was cut short when an anonymous individual rang the department reporting them of child abuse, and soon after the twins were taken away. She was afraid of writing this story due to the fear of driving away people who wish to start this journey.

Chapter 17

The chapter opens up with the author sharing a lot on how divorce works to disorient the status of a family. In her situation, the divorce of her parents deprived a lot of her childhood memories and shares a lot the story of how she anticipated being taught how to drive a situation that led to the creation of a ride between the author, and her father (Hollis). On the other hand, in her younger days, she lost her big brother, Ryan, and the divorce came soon before she could get over the ordeal. Despite the problems, and the childhood trauma, the author believes that those experiences should not be treated as life sentences. With this, she writes that she believes there are other individuals who are facing harder, and tougher times, and thus it is the responsibility of the individual to have a changed mindset. Thus, she compares the situation with gaining weight and affirms that as long as one is in control of his body then she has the power to change everything.

Chapter 18

The author shares about the first time she has alcohol at a scandalous age of fifteen. All these happened when she visited her sister Christina who gave have a sip of Midori Sour. The second time she drank was when she was seventeen, and this time they drank cheap Tequila with her best friend Kim. Later on, after getting married to Dave, she was amazed by how other couples drank a lot of wine but she later understood their plight soon after she got her babies (Hollis). Moreover, she writes how it went ahead to become a habit which immensely affected her well-being, and elicited the procrastinating behavior. Later on, she affirms one can actually conquer such habits by breaking down the weaker parts of the habit before building them up again in a refined manner. By acknowledging reality, one is able to conquer the negative side-effects of drinking.

Chapter 19

The chapter provides a background assessment of Southern California where the author grew. The author goes ahead to affirm that her people are from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. In addition, it is affirmed that she has roots from the Irish, and the Scottish descents which proves that she is from an origin of strong, proud, and conservative individuals who are deeply entrenched in their religion, and culture. This implies that the individuals were deeply confined in their space and had little knowledge of the surrounding environment beyond the ten-mile circumference. With this, the author tries to showcase that the community had not interacted with other cultures beyond their borders, and instead admitted those individuals who acted, and did what they understood. Thus, this can be observed as the key reason why she shares the story of when she first visited Disneyland to play the clarinet with no member of her family. From this experience, and other experiences with her husband, Dave, she believes that human beings need to diversify and get in touch with other people from different cultural backgrounds.

Chapter 20

In the chapter, the author shares some things she was unable to do when she was a teen, and the things she has minute memories of such as the tennis team she had joined. With this, she points out that she had a lot of gifts but most of them were far beyond the athletic field. But things changed once she was having their third son, and Dave started getting into shape so that he could participate in the 13-mile half marathon. The move infuriated the author and thus challenged her to start practicing and exercise for the next marathon just to prove to herself that she was capable. With this, she wanted to be her own hero, and this is the reason she underwent all the troubles of training for the half marathon. Therefore, the chapter closes with the author affirming that everybody can achieve whatever she aspires provided she had a positive mindset and has the will to complete whatever they started.

Based on: StudyPool

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