You may have it tough, but you’ll never have it as tough as a rich, white influencer who puts her foot in her mouth
Internet kerfuffles happen quickly in the hyped-up modern era. One minute, we’re discussing the rigging of the system by rich white people in order to put their rich, white children ahead of the pack, the next minute we’re watching them discuss why they feel as if they’ve been punished enough.
And then, poof! They’ve taken a ride on the mea culpa train, rolled down their window and waved during a brief stop at “I promise I’ll do better next time” station. Some get off early at chastened but not changed before arriving at the ultimate destination: amplified and allied.
Enter Rachel Hollis. She’s on the mea culpa train, but it remains to be seen where she’ll stop.
For those who are unaware, Hollis is an uber-influencer – for some the next Oprah. Author of amazingly popular books Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis posts Instagram pictures of herself drinking assorted beverages while using words like manifesting in her captions. She calls women ‘sis’. Hollis is the Gwyneth Paltrow of mental health, which is to say her advice is mainly for people who look like her, have her schooling, health, wealth, and access to a safety net.
Like Paltrow, Hollis is unaware of this.
In a recent TikTok (of course it was a TikTok), Hollis spoke earnestly to the camera about how she has someone come to her house twice a week to ‘clean [her] toilets’. Note: she didn’t say a housekeeper or a cleaner. Hollis, who referenced the woman as ‘my housekeeper,’ also didn’t mention other housework like, say, loading a dishwasher, or emptying the recycling bin.
A fan didn’t appreciate her wording, which implied ownership of a person and hierarchy, and kittens, this is where it gets weird. The smug smile at the end is worth waiting for.
Hollis doubles down. Because of course. After agreeing that having a housekeeper makes her ‘privileged’ and ‘unrelatable,’ Hollis goes on to say she has no desire to be relatable to her fans (and the world at large).
Hollis tells viewers most people don’t work as hard as she does, that few people wake up at 4 a.m. to work, as she often does. Let’s pause here for a muffled scream. To all the readers out there working two, three, or sometimes four or five jobs: I’m sorry that people like Hollis say things like this that imply you’d have as much money as them if you worked hard enough. It’s gross, it’s mean, and flat-out wrong.
But my babies, the video gets worse. Hollis finds a new low. She compares herself to Harriet Tubman, saying that the American hero was also ‘unrelatable’. And before you go looking it up, yes, she did mean THAT Harriet Tubman. The Harriet Tubman who was born in bondage, claimed her freedom, then worked for the rest of her life to free others. Blondish, thin and conventionally attractive Hollis, born white, to a middle-class family that could afford to feed, house, and educate her, and who married money, compared herself to Harriet Tubman.
As if on cue, Hollis issued a mea culpa.
The New York Times says Hollis has felt the repercussions of her actions, with speakers pulling out of an upcoming conference (and said conference being postponed).
Part of Hollis’ (and Paltrow’s) appeal, though is that they aren’t relatable – they’re aspirational to some people. The audience the Paltrows and the Hollis’ of the world speak to are tiny little morsels of society – for that specific group, saying ‘work harder’ just might work out for them.
Does Hollis need to apologize for her success? No. Does she need to understand the opportunities afforded to her aren’t afforded to everyone? Damn straight.
It would do them good to understand the system that lifts them up is the same system that keeps others down.
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