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I Was Duped by Rachel Hollis

msrachelhollis via Instagram: @msrachelhollis

Like many women, I resonated with her so deeply and truly admired her — now, I feel betrayed and embarrassed.

It started out like any fairytale — but overtime has grown quite sour.

I could feel it heading in this direction, but was in major denial for some time.

I started to initially feel something was amiss when first reading, “Girl, Wash Your Face”.

It had been so highly recommended to me by so many women I admired in my life.

The loudest supporter was a former Arbonne consultant, who had seen Hollis speak as Keynote Speaker at a big Arbonne convention in Vegas, and swore by the empowering content of her bestseller, “Girl, Wash Your Face”.

I immediately resonated with Rachel originally because she’s a self-made entrepreneur, a practicing Christian, and a New York Times Best Selling author.

Basically everything I am, or aspire to be.

It was an instant love affair from the beginning— I followed all of her social media accounts, and dreamed of one day being able to see her speak live (I was able to in October 2019 — and it cost me a pretty penny).

Her worrisome messaging in terms of dating.

With an abusive relationship myself in my history, I’m pretty sensitive to the f*cked up trope of “love can fix all”, which excuses awful behaviours in the name of “true love”.

That’s a way to get me triggered real fast. Preach this bullsh*t, and I’ll call you irresponsible and dangerous.

It’s worth noting that I’m also an indie critiquer for young adult fiction novels. Why does this matter? Well, it means I’m extremely sensitive to calling out that exact toxic narrative that facilitates the trope of, “true love will fix people to make them finally love you back”.

When I read the story of how Rachel and her husband got their start, I immediately felt deeply concerned about what her story was telling people. She has arguably a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy life that many women are working towards. There are many, many women who idolize her, and really take her word as gold.

How problematic is this story she’s telling? Here’s the gist, in my own words:

“I dated this older man — I was essentially his booty call for months and months. He was bothered when I referred to myself as his girlfriend. He entirely treated me like crap, and really obliterated my worth as a human being. So I dumped him. Leaving him was exactly the wake up call he needed to grow up and see me for the worthy, valuable woman I am! Next thing I know, he’s shown up on my front doorstep, and we’re giving our relationship another go. And this time, it worked out!”

The key message here? You can fix this guy — you can make him realize that you’re valuable and worthy of respect, and instantly turn him into Prince Charming/The Man of Your Dreams/The Perfect Father.

Imagine this narrative falling into the hands of an impressionable, young girl who believes in true love?

Toxic and unhealthy glorifications of romantic partners treating a boyfriend or girlfriend like crap, but insisting they’ll change if you just “love them hard enough” — that’s how people end up in abusive relationships.

That’s how I ended up in one.

I get that it’s Rachel’s story and truth — she doesn’t need to hide it. But for f*ck sake, don’t glorify it.

Her professional partnership with Tony Robbins.

I became such a fan of Rachel Hollis and her message that I didn’t even hesitate when a friend said,

“Hey! She’s going to be speaking in Toronto, we have to go see her!”

Living on the East Coast of Canada, I bought a ticket to the conference, I bought a plane ticket, booked the hotel, and off I went with close to $1,000 less in my business bank account.

It was in the months leading up to the conference that I learned who Tony Robbins was.

It’s true, I had no clue who he was. I was just told he was a motivational speaker. Okay, cool.

For those who don’t know, he was the guy who got Oprah to run across hot coals. You’ve probably heard of him.

So, I went to Toronto, attended the 10-hour conference, and came back feeling inspired to the core! I was ready to grind and grow in my own social media marketing company, and make my dreams more of a reality.

High on dopamine, I shared my trip with my maid-of-honour (she knew I was going to see Rachel Hollis in Toronto, but that was it), and told her about Tony Robbins’ talk, speaking highly of it.

I watched her cringe. I asked her what was up.

“Gillian, haven’t you heard? He’s had a bunch of women come out and jointly accuse him of sexual harassment and sexual assault… Buzzfeed did a big piece on it. The stories are awful.”

No, I had not heard. But I hopped right on my cellphone and did my research. His most recent is below:

Tony Robbins Has Been Accused Of Sexually Assaulting A High Schooler At Summer Camp

As a survivor of attempted rape, I live by the deep philosophy of believing survivors who have been brave enough to step forward and tell their stories.

That’s part of who I am.

I found myself feeling quite disturbed and bothered that I had supported Tony Robbins by attending his conference. I also found my internal dialogue asking, “This is horrifying… I can’t believe Rachel Hollis would still speak for his conference following these accusations. Did she just not know, too?”

She probably did. She’ll probably speak for him again. That reality made me sad.

She’s a regular supporter and speaker for MLMs.

Since the Tony Robbins realization, I felt a little disappointed by Rachel, but still asked for her book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing”, for Christmas, and was excited to read it.

That said, I haven’t stopped doing my research, ever since this little voice in the back of my head kept poking away to look into things more and more.

Now, I’m not here to bash other people’s working choices, or the like.

I’ll just say that Rachel Hollis is a massive supporter of MLMs, known as Multi-Level Marketing, which has been accused of exploiting women through a cult-like mentality and operating as an illegal pyramid scheme.

After hearing this, I dug in and did much more research on the structure of MLMs, the stories of former consultants, and the statistics and facts that exist.

My findings were very concerning.

Now, I have people in my life who I love who are MLM consultants — they’ve tried to recruit me into their downline/team, and I’ve always declined. I don’t purchase products from them (luxury products are not something I spend money on, as I’m quite frugal). As long as they respected my choice to not join, we’ve remained good friends.

That’s built on a mutual foundation of respect.

Anything that shows the potential of exploiting others and is actively leaving them in financially crippling positions? That’s something that deeply concerns me.

You can do your own research — in fact, please do, I really encourage you to make your own call — but this is where mine has brought me, when I originally came from a very neutral standpoint when it came to MLMs.

This 30-minute Vice documentary on former consultants from the MLM LuLaRoe is a powerful place to start.

Her consistent plagiarism.

Despite all these things, and all my little worries or doubts, I at least could find solace in the fact that her words really spoke to me, and she was a woman with fantastic insight.

The straw that broke the camels back was when I stumbled on a Youtube video highlighting what everyone already seemed to know — Rachel Hollis has plagiarized an astronomical amount of her content (written, on social media, in her speeches) from other people.

Often, from other motivational speakers in the same industry at her… and she never credits them. Find some concrete examples of it in action below:

Influencer Rachel Hollis Is Facing Accusations She Is Plagiarizing On Her Instagram

You could say that nothing is unique or innovative anymore — and everything has been said at least once before.

There’s using similar words, or concepts… but to be using entire sentences and direct quotes, yet passing them off as their own? That’s plagarism, full-stop.

As a creative, who makes a living off of her words, learning this broke my heart.

This was the final nail in what was a long-overdue emotional and mental break from viewing Rachel Hollis as a role model and inspiration in my life.

Final word.

I’ll be very frank — I loved Rachel Hollis with a passion. I really, truly thought the world of this woman.

I’m now embarrassed that this was the case, because a little bit of research would have shown me that I was misinformed.

I’m not telling people what they should or shouldn’t do — I’m just asking that people do their research before putting other human beings on pedestals, and to follow their gut when something feels off.

Odds are, if it feels too good to be true, it probably is.

Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in All Stories, Culture and Current Events, Drama, Non-Fiction, Opinion Piece, Self-Help, True Story


  1. Thank you for sharing, Gillian. An insightful piece, indeed. Great work and a great ethical standpoint to operate by–questions are not inherently bad, they can help us to better refine and walk our own path authentically to ourselves rather than simply following others (and to find solidarity and wisdom in others’ experiences so we can better learn to find strength, wisdom and lessons in our own experiences); and to discern our ethical viewpoint and reasoning as well as analytical skills, of course.