Earlier in April, famous author and influencer Rachel Hollis came under fire for comments she made in a viral video. It all began during an Instagram Live, where Hollis pointedly referenced "the woman" who "cleans her toilets" twice a week. Here's why so many people are upset at the influencer and self-described self-help author of Girl, Wash Your Face.
A lot of viewers called out her privilege by pointing to the ongoing pandemic and how many people are struggling financially. A few commenters mentioned that by talking about hired help, she came across as "unrelatable" and "insensitive."
In a response video, which has since been deleted, Hollis admitted to her privilege but said she works hard for the money she has, alluding to hard work being synonymous with financial success. She also added that she doesn't like the notion of relatability.
"What is it about me that made you think I want to be relatable?" the best-selling women's self-help author says. "No, sis, literally everything I do in my life is to live a life that most people can't relate to. Most people won't work this hard. Most people won't get up at 4 a.m. Most people won't fail publicly again and again just to reach the top of the mountain. Literally, every woman I admire in history was unrelatable. If my life is relatable to most people, I'm doing it wrong."
Though the video was deleted from Hollis' account, many advocates have shared their response to it on Instagram.
In the caption of the now-deleted response video, Hollis listed admirable women in history who she also thinks are "unrelatable," like Harriet Tubman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart and Frida Khalo, to name a few. She labeled them as "all unrelatable AF."
Her response video prompted an array of comments from fellow authors, activists and people of color who felt she missed the mark with her video about relatability and having money.
"The problem with Rachel Hollis' recent controversy isn't the fact that she has housekeepers," one Twitter user pointed out. It's that she says that the reason she's able to have them is that she simply 'works harder than everyone else' and 'wakes up at 4 a.m."
"That video has been up for 4 days," author and activist Luvvie said. "She's gotten thousands of comments from people telling her why it's problematic AF. But it's still up and she hasn't addressed it. The caucasity. The Beckery. I'm like wow."
Another Twitter user pointed out that a lot of people work hard, but won't ever see the level of financial success Hollis has. "For most people, hard work means that your boss gets rich and you get by."
In response to the comments from people all over social media, Hollis issued an apology on her Instagram account. This has also been deleted after she received a lot of comments saying she missed the mark by blaming her staff.
In the apology statement, Hollis placed accountability for the reactionary video on her personal PR team and said she's 'disappointed' that she let her fans down. Many commenters felt she avoided taking accountability even in her apology, where she tagged several of the authors and activists who felt harmed by her words.
"Was my post upsetting because I mentioned my cleaner? I'm sure that it would make my brand more likable and more relatable if I act like I achieve all these things through hard work and organization but that's bulls--t… I want you to know that it's a group effort," she wrote.
"Rachel, I'm astounded that you missed the point so hard," Luvvie responded to the post. "I'm actually shocked that 5 days went by and you still don't understand why what you said was so deeply problematic. If you will invoke my name, at least do the work of understanding why you failed loudly and why you have to take accountability. But here you are blaming your team. This lacks integrity and is shameful."
On Tuesday, Hollis issued a second apology.
"I'm not going to do this perfectly but I'm going to speak from my heart," she wrote. "I'm so deeply sorry for the things I said in my recent posts and the hurt I have caused in the past few days. I know I've caused tremendous pain in mentioning prominent women—including several women of color—whose struggles and achievements I can't possibly understand. By talking about my own success, I diminished the struggles and hard work of many people who work tirelessly every day."
She added, "I disregarded the people whose hard work doesn't afford them financial security, often due to inherently racist and biased systems. I did not allow a space for people to voice their anger, hurt and disappointment, which caused even more pain. I acknowledge my privilege and the advantage I have as a white woman, no matter how I grew up."
At the end of her apology, Hollis vowed to reflect and learn after inflicting harm through her words by listening instead. "I know I have disappointed so many people, myself included, and I take full accountability. I am so sorry."
According to The New York Times, Hollis was slated to speak at a conference next month sponsored by her self-improvement company, Rise. After the remarks about her housekeeper went viral, longtime contributors and partners began to distance themselves from Hollis and backed out of participating in the conference. The Hollis Co. has since announced the conference is on hold until further notice so that Hollis can "rethink her content."