Rachel Hollis: The Rise and Fall of a Self-Help Empire [Cult Status]

Rachel Hollis skyrocketed to fame as a self-help influencer and author until her privileged views took her down. Find out more about her rise and fall.

Rachel Hollis is an influencer, podcast host, and American author once beloved in the self-help community. She has written several self-help books, including”Girl, Wash Your Face,” and “Girl, Stop Apologizing.” Both sold over a million copies each. Hollis also hosted a podcast called “The Rachel Hollis Podcast” and co-hosted several others with her husband, Dave Hollis. She is known for her unapologetic theories. Her popularity allowed her to become the founder of a successful lifestyle brand and marketing venture, Chic Media Company, which became The Hollis Company. There was no way New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hollis could fail. But we’re all human, right? Soon, the cracks in her perfectly-crafted persona began to show. Take a look at what led to the downfall of the once-beloved self-help guru.

Toxic Positivity and the Prosperity Gospel

Hollis’s hook is positivity and hard work. (Of course, that also describes about 90% of the self-help influencers in the world.) She practiced what some may call “toxic positivity.” This is the idea that if you believe in yourself and work hard, you can fix any problem you encounter. In theory, it seems like a great motivational strategy, but that kind of thinking can also be quite damaging. Rachel Hollis promotes the idea that anyone could have her success (and, I suppose, that could be true if you marry a former top Disney executive and have that kind of capital to start your own business…), which seems like an unfair expectation to set.

Hollis’s self-help path is heavily rooted in Christianity. It uses popular tactics from the “prosperity gospel” playbook (the same tactics used by charismatic televangelists and multi-level marketing gurus). The theory of this “gospel” is that the more you give (typically, the more you give to the church or God), the more you’ll get in return. And, when that doesn’t happen, it’s because you are flawed. If you stop believing in yourself, or if you don’t give enough, you will never prosper. But don’t worry; there’s always hope if you give more.

Lifestyle Guru and Marriage Counselor

As Rachel Hollis became a successful motivational speaker, self-help influencer, lifestyle blogger, and bestselling author, her social media was getting bad press over the amount of plagiarism found. Whether it was Jon Acuff or Toni Morrison, “Hollis’s team” stole the phrases of others as her own. Still, nothing seemed to stop her growing success.

Because of her popular books and her “hard-working mama” persona, she was able to launch a marriage counseling retreat program. Couples would pay large amounts of money to be counseled by Hollis and her husband. Neither of whom had any education or experience with licensed counseling practices. Looking back, it’s hard to wonder how much good they did when their own marriage collapsed years later. (Nothing against divorce or separation, but it’s interesting that two people that were so confident in distributing marriage advice couldn’t “grow” their marriage any further. As they once said, it’s a daily choice to let your marriage grow or die. I guess they decided to let it die.) The couple does stay connected through their business and professional relationship, but that’s it.

BLM and Shaming Fans

After George Floyd’s death, Rachel Hollis was questioned by fans who felt she should be using her platform to speak up on behalf of the exploding Black Lives Matter conversation. When she finally showed support days later, her right-wing, Christian, “blue lives matter” fans were offended. With her audience divided, she went silent again. During this time, she announced her divorce and avoided having to speak about social and racial concerns. Finally, it seemed she could get her brand back on track, so she announced a new book on one of her popular Rach Talk live Instagram posts. Hollis was poised to RISE again… until fans actually read “Didn’t See That Coming.” Inside, she mocked her followers, especially those involved in Multi-Level Marketing companies and those who believed in the “prosperity gospel.”

Unrelatable and Privileged AF

You would think by now Rachel Hollis had learned her lesson, right? Not so much. In March of 2021, Hollis posted a TikTok where she attacked a commenter that called her “privileged AF.” The author snapped back by explaining that she worked hard to live an unrelatable and privileged life. Maybe she had good intentions when creating the video. Still, it didn’t help that she likened herself to other “unrelatable” women such as Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, and Frida Kahlo. Although Hollis released an apology, she once again blamed her team instead of taking the blame herself.

Watch the video below for details on the rise and fall (and possible rise again?) of self-help influencer and author Rachel Hollis: