Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face Controversy: How I see it

A few weeks back, I posted a review on the following book: Girl, Wash Your Face

During the last twenty-four hours I have had about a half dozen people send me the following link: Girl, Wash Your Face? What Rachel Hollis Gets Right ... and Wrong. 

These people that message me or posted on Facebook were kindly asking me my feelings about Alisa Childers (who I have never heard of before this) opinion of Hollis and her book. 

After reading Childers review and speaking with my husband and really thinking about what is said in this review, here's what I have decided I want to "say" on this topic.

I was duped.

Okay, not duped exactly, but I am a sucker for good writing, and Hollis is a FANTASTIC story-teller. I am actually NOT a fan of self-help books (at all!), but this one got me because of the person she wrote in. It was so alive. It was so best-friend-sitting-by-me-and-telling-me-exactly-like-it-is. I was so impressed with some of the topics she did not shy away from. I was blown away by how she was not afraid to keep it real (something I am really huge on.) And my goodness, she is one of the best writers I have read in quite some time. Being as I love writing and want to "be" a writer, I'm always very pulled into good writing.

But I'll admit, something was "bugging" me about her book, and I could NOT put my finger on it.

The "bugging" actually started when our wwoofer-turned-adopted-big-brother-to-my-kids-Dutch-guy Tijmen, saw me reading the book. Tijmen is an intellectual to his core, knows his mind, and simply refuses to accept an answer he doesn't really buy. 

Tijmen asked me what the book was about.

I was about halfway through it at the time, and I said something like: "It's a book telling me not to believe the lies society says I should believe."

When he asked me what kind of lies these were I said, "You know, things like: I don't know how to be a mom, I'm not a good Mom, I'm not good enough, I should be further along by now, other people are so much better at things than me, I am defined by my weight. Those kind of things."

But then Tijmen said something that really stuck with me. He said: "So this book is telling you that you are good enough?"

And I said: "Yes, exactly."

And he said: "But surely some people are not good enough."

We went on to discuss this. What about a woman who is not a good mom. What about a woman whose house is absolutely filthy and really not acceptable? What about a woman who is not faithful to her husband? What about a woman who doesn't deserve a promotion. Like genuinely just shouldn't be promoted? (Of course, these could apply to men too, but since this book is directed at women, I'm sticking with that.)

Hollis writes: 

Mom, you should parent in whatever way works for your family and spend less time worrying about other people's perceptions of how you're doing. Can we stop being so hard on ourselves and instead focus on the good work we are doing, the results of which are evident in the awesome little people we are raising?

And Tijmen was basically saying: 

What if a mom is really not doing a good job? We can't just pat ourselves on the back. Sometimes we are not doing a good job. Surely not everyone reading this book has hit it out of the park.

This quote above is a good transition ....

.... it leads into the thing about the book that sort of bugged me as I read it, but to be honest, I overlooked because it is so gosh-darn-well-written.

We can't have it all.

I've argued this on behalf of women especially for quite some time. Society teaches us that we can have the job and the family and the dream house and the hot husband and be super rich and keep a clean house and ... you get the idea.

But something has to give. We cannot do it all. Especially I want to say we cannot do it all and do it all well. 

But Hollis was making me feel when I read the book that I could and should. She had this incredibly successful book and she had a whole chapter on not believing the lie that "No is the final answer."

But what about when no is the final answer?!

This goes back to what Tijmen asked me. How can we tell women not to believe lies when sometimes the "lie" is "true"? 

While our infertility story ended up with me pregnant three times, there are many women don't have the same story. Their womb stays closed. They have a complete hysterectomy. Pregnancy is impossible. They had to accept the "no" and move on to the "what next." 

Our society has been encouraging us and teaching our children that everyone is a winner and there is no loser. Let's give everyone a trophy and not tell anyone they aren't good enough to make the team. 

Society says: "If you want it, you can have it." 

But that's not true. 

For example, infertility numbers are soaring because women are delaying pregnancy well past their prime childbearing years. No matter what we believe, the truth remains: 35 is advanced maternal age. 

(Carrie Underwood said it and was raked over the coals by the media. But it's the truth!) 

We can't deny the facts. We have to take no for an answer sometimes.

Someone loses. Someone has to be told no. And when they aren't, as Childers points out in her review of the book, we end up with these people on American Idol who think they can sing because no one ever told them they can't. 

Folks, ain't (I italicize that word because I don't like using it but it really works in this paragraph) ain't nothing in the world gonna change my voice into one that would advance past any judge on American Idol. It isn't a lie. It's the truth. I can't sing. I can improve. But I can't be Carrie Underwood. I just can't.

Okay, so that's what really bothered me about the book while I read it but I really didn't acknowledge it until my conversation with Tijmen.

Now here's the thing that bothers me NOW.

I somehow allowed myself to overlook many statements that Hollis wrote that I absolutely do NOT agree with. 

Here are just a few: 
  • ‘’The truth? You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.’’ Wait? Where is God in this? 
  • ‘’Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to tell a hundred stories that are funny or weird or embarrassing or sad or crazy, but each of them is reaching for this same pithy, Pinterest-worthy truth: your life is up to you.’’ Again, it isn't. As a Christian (and this is supposedly a Christian book), my life is up to God. 
  • ‘’Once you understand that you are the one who is truly in control, you’ll get up and try again. And you’ll keep going until being in control feels more natural than being out of control. It’ll become a way of life, and you’ll become the person you are meant to be.’’ Repeat. 
  • ‘’ The precious life you’ve been given is like a ship navigating its way across the ocean, and you’re meant to be the captain of the vessel. Certainly there are times when storms toss you around or cover the deck with water or break the mast clean in half—but that’s when you need to fight your way back, to throw all the water off the boat bucket by bucket. That’s when you battle to get yourself back to the helm. This is your life. You are meant to be the hero of your own story.’’ I am not the captain. Wow. How could I miss this? God is captain.
  • The second step is recognizing that just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone. In so many instances judgment comes from a place of feeling as though you’ve somehow got it all figured out when they do not.Judging each other actually makes us feel safer in our own choices. Faith is one of the most abused instances of this. We decide that our religion is right;therefore, every other religion must be wrong.’’ Oh my oh my oh my oh my.

I believe GOD is the hero of my life. He is the CAPTAIN of my ship. I am not solely responsible for who I become. 

As a Christian, I am called to share my faith because I do believe it is the only way to the Heavenly Father. John 14:6 says it very clearly: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." And yet Hollis is saying that I shouldn't believe my "religion" is the only way to the Heavenly Father.

But I do. It's what Christianity is about. Jesus. Only through Jesus. He saved. Only Him.

Okay, I could go on and on, but here's what I want to summarize and say.

1. This book is INCREDIBLY well-written.

2. For a self-help book there is a LOT to glean from this. There are many good things. If you don't read it as gospel, you can walk away encouraged to not be so hard on yourself and to go for your dreams. 

3. Our culture has continually told us that there cannot be a moral absolute. There cannot be black and white. But I don't believe that. And I believe the "gospel" that Hollis is preaching is actually dangerous. Why? Because I don't feel I am easily "duped" when it comes to my faith. It is NOT something I compromise on. 

And somehow I did, and didn't even realize it. That is what feels so "dangerous" to me about this "gospel." I am a very solid person in my faith, and I read this book and didn't even take into account that she was preaching a gospel that doesn't require God.

And personally, that feels dangerous to me. I believe it is the beginning of the faith getting watered down.

Lesson learned. 

I was duped.


Unknown said...

Definitely not being confrontational. I agree, throughout the book, she could have pointed to God more. But, you knew there was a but coming, right? But, choosing God as my Captain, choosing God as my source of comfort and happiness is up to me and me alone. So ultimately those things are essentially up to me and me choosing to trust God. My guess and only a guess is she wrote this way to appeal to everyone, to get those who may not be walking with the Lord a little sneak peak kind of thing. The part about other religions did throw me too. My thoughts here are, as Christians, we believe the other religions are wrong (we know). People devout to other religions believe Christianity is wrong. If someone from another religion comes to tell me Christianity is wrong, I will be polite but not really "hear" what they are telling me. I'm not saying we need to be sneaky to share our beliefs with others but if we make a blanket statement saying they are wrong then boom they quit listening. Now is this her intention? I haven't a clue. If it was is there better way to go about it, yeah, I'm sure. I am also in agreement with those who are definitely not getting it right and I don't really have an answer for that other than if they are messing up that bad they probably aren't reading self-help books and if they do I pray it opens their eyes to the truth. I do love this book and agree it is well written. It spoke to me a lot, it gave me motivation and encouragement. And for me, it turned me back and closer to God, because I know that He is my refuge and strength. Just my thoughts though, great review and discussion.

TAV said...

An entertaining read with some good messages but something also struck me as a bit off— not sure I can put my finger on it, either!