In the sequel (sorry) to our first installment, we take a deep dive into Rachel's wildly problematic books and deeply weird downfall. Along the way we discuss allyship etiquette, MLMs and Ronald Reagan. We remain convinced that getting matching tattoos was the right decision for us.
Aubrey: Hi everybody, and welcome to Maintenance Phase, the podcast that doesn't use a southern accent even when it's in church.
Mike: We're authentic, y'all.
Aubrey: You know we love monogram.
Aubrey: I'm Aubrey Gordon.
Mike: I'm Michael Hobbes.
Aubrey: If you would like to support the show, you can do that at patreon.com/maintenancephase, you will get monthly bonus episodes there. This month's bonus episode, Mike and I are shouting at the top of our lungs about fat suits.
Mike: Fat suits.
Aubrey: And if you'd like to support the show, great. Come on down and join us. And if not, hang out, keep listening, we got a lot to say about Rachel goddamn Hollis.
Mike: This is the Reluctant Accidental Part 2 of our Rachel Hollis [crosstalk] so embarrassed.
Aubrey: [laughs] It's so funny because we have covered so many topics and-
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: -we’ve gotten so close to this, so many other times before.
Mike: And somehow this is the one we're splitting into two.
Aubrey: Tune in for future episodes on, I guess, like the Paul Brothers and Shane Dawson.
Mike: Don't fucking tempt me. This is going to become a YouTube drama show.
Aubrey: [laughs] You've got a lot to say about Jenna Marbles, guys.
Mike: But catch us up. What all did we cover last week?
Aubrey: Okay. Last time we talked about the origin story of Rachel Hollis, who it's now emblazoned in my brain, is from Weedpatch, California. We talked about her moving to LA and meeting her husband, who was a real jerk to her.
Aubrey: And she decided to power through his jerkiness and defy the lyrics of Bonnie Raitt’s, I Can't Make You Love Me, and make a relationship happen.
Mike: Let's give them something to talk about. Yeah.
Aubrey: Oh, and also, she has at this point gone viral because of a photo that she has posted of herself, post childbirth in a bikini.
Aubrey: Yes. Looking like a thin woman who gave birth.
Mike: Like a normal thin woman.
Mike: We're going to sort of collapse together the next couple years, because in a very short stint, she puts out three books. So, in 2018, she puts out Girl, Wash Your Face. In 2019, she puts out Girl, Stop Apologizing. And in 2020, she puts out, I Didn't See That Coming, which is her how to get through a hardship through grift. I don't know. She also in 2018, she forms this media empire and she starts doing this thing called the RISE conference, which is like teaching people how to-- it's very Tony Robbins style motivational seminars, the weekend seminars. There's a documentary about her that's on Amazon Prime that she produced, she commissioned. I want to do a content analysis of the message that she is producing at this time.
I have so much guilt about how much time we're spending on this, that I'm trying to make this about the bigger picture that it's not necessarily only about Rachel Hollis. I think a lot of this goes back to really the creation of the modern media influencer type. We're just going to do a deep dive into the kinds of rhetoric that she's selling around, 2018 to 2020, when all three of her bestselling books come out, and what lies beneath that basically. And then we're going to talk about the downfall and all the drama that happens.
Aubrey: Thumbs up. I'm in.
Mike: The best place to start, is one of the things that really bothered people about the TikTok that kind of brought everything crashing down in April of 2021, was that Rachel Hollis says, “What made you think that I want to be relatable?” This is at the end of five years of her putting out books and videos and conferences, all of which are built around this idea that she is relatable. I think with the rise of social media, and with especially celebrities using social media, this idea of stars, they're just like us and these paparazzi photos of Charlize Theron taking out the garbage or something. There's always been a market for stars doing normal things. But this is really the first era where stars can do that themselves.
What we found really with the rise of Instagram, like Instagram becoming this canonical platform that so many people use and so many celebrities use, is celebrities really deliberately putting out videos and posts that are like, “Look how normal I am.” Wow, also, just underneath that, being like, “But I'm also really rich and cool.” It's this performance of authenticity, but like being very careful not to go too far.
Aubrey: Well, it's like she said. She's following in the footsteps of other highly unrelatable women. This is just the Harriet Tubman playbook that she's rolling out here.
Mike: [laughs] Oh, my fucking God. Jesus Christ. [laughs]
Mike: Our first Harriet Tubman joke on our show. We're famous for Harriet Tubman jokes [crosstalk] here at maintenance phase.
Aubrey: I support you and whenever you decide to do with that remark in the end [crosstalk] [laughs]
Mike: We’ll see.
Mike: One of the things that totally fascinates me after watching a million of Rachel videos and reading large sections of all three of her books, is how consistent this pattern is that every chapter of all of her books starts with some sort of quote unquote relatable anecdote that a centimeter below the surface is not that relatable.
The first chapter of her first book, she does the thing that is a very normal part of storytelling where you start with a bold statement. She starts the chapter with, “I peed my pants last week.” And you're like, “I'm listening.”
Aubrey: Yeah, totally.
Mike: And then she tells a story of she's bouncing on the trampoline in the backyard with her kids, and I guess this is the thing that after you have a couple kids, it gets harder to hold in the pee.
Aubrey: Yeah, I've heard about this phenomenon.
Mike: She's apparently doing a gymnastics move, like jumping up in the air and doing the splits or something. And then a little bit of pee comes out, like a little dribble of pee and creates like a dot on her pants. Immediately you're like, “Okay, well, you didn't like pee your pants.”
Aubrey: Yeah, that's a different thing.
Mike: It's not like as relatable as you said. And then she also mentioned that no one is really around, her kids are there, one of her kids is there, but nobody really notices or sees it. And then-- she then transitions. She says, “The timing was perfection because not 30 minutes later a previously programmed Facebook post went up showing me trying on dresses for the Oscars.”
Mike: “Before you get the wrong impression, I'm not fancy enough to go to the Academy Awards. I am however, married to someone ultra hunky. He's not really fancy either, but his job certainly is. That means sometimes I get to wear dresses like a princess and drink free wine in well-lit ballrooms.”
Mike: Yeah. Again, she's doing this kind of fake relatability where she's like, “Oh, I'm married to the super hunky guy who just like happens to be an extremely high-level Disney executive. And I go get to drink free wine.” It's like, no, you're going to the Oscar, like you're not sneaking into the Oscars. You're invited to the Oscars, because your husband is an important person in the film industry.
Aubrey: Right. Also, I am guessing that they make a salary where free wine is conceptually nice, but in no way necessary.
Mike: Exactly. [laughs]
Aubrey: It's not the only way they're getting wine.
Mike: Listen closely to this wording. “In these instances, photos show up on Instagram or Facebook of us looking well-coiffed and ultra-glam, and the internet goes wild.” How do they show up on the internet, Rachel? I don't know.
Aubrey: Photos just happen to show up. They just appear sometimes, Mike.
Mike: You just said that you've scheduled a Facebook post to go out. So, you're posting them, it's fine. Again, this is the thing, like everything else with Rachel Hollis, is like, I don't care, Rachel, just don't lie about it.
Aubrey: I really love the emerging theme of this Rachel Hollis miniseries, which is just Mike yelling about something and then going, “I don't care.”
Mike: This is the thing, if I went to the Oscars, I would post hella selfies and be like, [unintelligible [00:08:13] the Oscars.” It's fine.
Aubrey: It's very funny that we're spending this much time talking about this topic.
Mike: I know, I'm sorry.
Aubrey: And then both of us are going, “I don't care.”
Mike: It doesn't matter. I know.
Mike: The rest of this section is her juxtaposing, like, “Everyone on the internet is telling me I'm so glamorous and I have this fabulous life. But also, I peed myself the very same day.” I'm opening with this, because this is a pattern that she does a lot and I don't want to give too many examples of because it's going to get really boring. But she does an anecdote and then she switches into this universal advice that we can all learn from. So, then she says, “This is important, because I want you to understand, my sweet, precious friend, that we're all falling short. Yet, even though I fail over and over again, I don't let it deter me. I still wake up every day and try again to become a better version of myself.” It's like she hasn't really earned this lesson where she's like, “Some days I'm falling short,” but it's like, but you didn't fall short, Rachel, you jumped on the trampoline and then you went to the Oscars.
Aubrey: Right. Your body did a thing that bodies do after they have grown a child. That's not a personal failing. If she had told a story that was like, “I was pissed off about something else. And I picked a fight with my husband, and then I had to figure out how to make it up to him.” I'm like, that's relatable, who hasn't done that. There are ways of coming at this that are more reflections of areas for personal growth.
Mike: Exactly. And, on the same day that, “I posted photos and everyone told me how hot I look.”
Mike: You're already stressed out. We've been doing this for six minutes.
Aubrey: I know. It takes so little. I'm sitting in my office chair and I'm gripping the end of the armrests. Yeah, my knuckles are more white than not.
Mike: Are whiter than Rachel Hollis' Instagram comments. Ew.
Aubrey: Yeah. [laughs]
Mike: So, I'm leading with the pee thing also because it's kind of funny, and we have to talk about the dark stuff now. We're going to talk about the ways in which her various books are problematic. There's a couple different categories to go through. But the category I want to start with is they're unbelievably fat phobic. Like bad.
Aubrey: Uh-oh. Who could have seen that coming?
Mike: It's so bad. Remember, we were talking last episode about how the body positivity stuff isn't necessarily bad on its face. But you know something bad is about to come after it?
Aubrey: Right. There's something sinister lurking beneath the surface?
Mike: This is also a red flag to me. I realized that it shouldn't be and I realized that not everybody is like this. But I started flexing reading Rachel's book as soon as she started a chapter by saying that she used to be 30 pounds heavier. There's actually s survey data on this, that some of the most fat phobic people in society are people who used to be fat.
Aubrey: Yeah. And part of what happens is that folks will start to evangelize about their weight loss.
Aubrey: And I think that's the shape that a lot of this often takes, is like, “You don't know how great it can be. It's totally within your control. Why would you,” blah, blah, blah? That's also sort of part of this thing and it makes it really hard.
Mike: But then what's so interesting to me about like fatness as a minority status, is that you have these people who used to be members of the group who are oftentimes, like sitting on boards of the obesity medicine society, or these institutional boards that will oftentimes have former fat people on them, who are considered to be authorities on speaking for what that group wants, because like, well, they used to be fat. But the group of former fat people is actually very distinct from current fat people, in ways that I don't think nonfat people are trained to understand.
Aubrey: Yes, they're incentivized to distance themselves from their former fat selves, which means distancing themselves from fat people, which means joining in on the gnarliest judgments that thin people have of fat people and becoming one of the most vocal proponents because that's how you make sure that everybody around you knows you're not a terrible fat person anymore.
Mike: Rachel talks in very stigmatizing ways about the fact that she was a size 10 when she moved to LA.
Aubrey: Oh my God, so she's not even fat.
Mike: And then after she moves to LA, of course, it's LA, so there's all this pressure to be thin and conventionally attractive and everything else, so she goes on crash diets and she takes diet pills and it seems she has this period of light eating disorder stuff. And then she gets to Dave, she ends up having kids and then the largest she ever got was size 14, she goes through a period of trying to lose weight and failing and then she lights on her current plan which is that she has a whole video about this of thinking of food as fuel.
Mike: I know. This was the sound I made to. Because really during the downfall stuff, which we will get to, BuzzFeed interviews a woman named Osheta Moore who's a black staffer of the Rachel Hollis Company. At the time, Osheta was dieting to try to get down to a size 14. Rachel would come in and talk about how gross and awful it was to be a size 14, like to be as high as a size 14.
Aubrey: This whole episode or two-parter, is becoming a backdoor into a bunch of the challenges of like, body positivity as embodied by thin white women. That the point of body positivity now is perceived as working through your insecurities about your body. In which case, Rachel's comments are totally valid, problem is she's not fucking thinking about the impacts of that and the insecurities and the body image issues that that will create for people around her.
Mike: And to have a massive platform and talking about yourself and about this issue in that way.
Aubrey: And if she's talking about herself that way, listen, here's the real bitter pill to swallow everybody. She's 100% treating fat people worse as well.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: This is another common trope here is like, “I just don't like how I felt at that size. But I don't treat fat people any differently.” And I'm like, “Nope.”
Mike: Nope. Narrator voice, she did. [laughs]
Aubrey: Yeah, totally. Footage not found of you treating fat people equally and with dignity.
Mike: I mean, this leads us into the next quote. There's been a lot of articles and videos made about the fat phobia in Rachel's book, and there's a particularly grisly paragraph in her first book about fat people, and you see this paragraph show up in all of the articles, all of the videos, it's the passage that sort of goes around. And whenever I see a passage going around like this, my first instinct is to be like, “Well, I'm seeing this without context. What does it actually look like in context?” This is the rare unicorn that I have a fetish for this, of like quotes that look bad taken out of context, that look worse when you see the full context.
Aubrey: Mike, will you send me this passage and I'll read it into the microphone?
Mike: This is the thing. This is long, but I want to give you the full glory of her argument here. Okay, so I'm putting this in the chat.
Aubrey: Send it. I can't wait. I can't wait to be a fa-- Whoa, shit.
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: You were not kidding.
Mike: So, this is from her first book.
Aubrey: “Here's what I can tell you truthfully about diet and exercise and weight and what it means in my life. Who you are today is incredible. You have so many wonderful qualities to offer the world and they are uniquely yours. I believe your Creator delights in the intricacies of you and He is filled with joy when you live out your potential.”
Mike: Okay, here's the paragraph that is taken out of context, and then we're going to keep reading.
Aubrey: “I also believe that humans were not made to be out of shape and severely overweight. I think we function better mentally, emotionally and physically when we take care of our bodies with nourishment, water and exercise. The lie I used to believe was that my weight would define me that it would speak volumes about who I was as a person. Today, I believe it's not your weight that defines you, but the care and consideration you put into your body absolutely does. I already know that my saying this will annoy some people.” Understatement, Rachel." [laughs]
Mike: Congratulations, Rachel. You know it's fucked up to say this.
Aubrey: “I already know that my saying this will annoy some people. I can already imagine the emails I'll get. The list of reasons why you or someone you know is justifiably obese, the trauma you've lived through. In some cases, food is your coping mechanism. Or maybe you have an eating disorder like anorexia. All of these things are justifiable. All of these are valid reasons to negate caring for yourself for a time. Childhood trauma is not a life sentence.” Holy fucking shit. She's going in hard. "
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: “Extreme emotional pain doesn't guarantee emotional pain for the rest of your life. I know this is true because I am a living, breathing, flourishing example of someone who chooses to rise above the trauma of her past.” Oof.
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: “The reason I know this is true is because the world is filled with people who have it so much harder than me and so much harder than you, yet they show up for their lives every single day.” How do we get from the size of your body to showing up for your life?
Mike: Non sequiturs. It's just a book of non sequiturs.
Aubrey: I'm passively letting my life happen to me, everybody. “You need to be healthy, you don't need to be thin, you don't need to be a certain size or shape or look good in a bikini. You need to be able to run without feeling like you're going to puke. You need to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, you need to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every single day. You need to stretch and get good sleep and stop medicating every ache and pain. You need to stop filling your body with garbage like Diet Coke and fast food and lattes that are a million and a half calories. You need to take in fuel for your body that hasn't been processed, and fuel for your mind that is positive and encouraging. Does your Creator love you as you are? Yes. But He gave you a body with all of its strength, even its weaknesses as a gift. It is an offense to your soul to continue to treat yourself so badly.” Motherfucker.
Mike: Right. The context makes it so much worse.
Aubrey: It makes it so much worse.
Mike: [laughs] So much worse. It's like that little paragraph is so bad. It's like, “You're not meant to be overweight.” That's mean. But then it's like, “Fuck your trauma.” [laughs] It just goes.
Aubrey: It's an offense to the Almighty. Like, argh. Maybe you have anorexia, and I guess that's an excuse for a while.
Mike: It's fascinating to me how in this passage, four or five times she bounces between “you are lovely as you are and you need to change.” It's like she can't decide. She does this a lot, actually, where she'll just say two completely opposing ideas, both as unbreakable rules. She'll be like, you need to prioritize your job. You need to get up early and grind and do whatever it is to make your goals. And then one chapter later, she'll be like, “You need to prioritize the people in your life. You need to make time for family. You need to make sure you're not sitting at the computer when you should be with your kids.”
Aubrey: This is what's happening with wellness and weight loss culture at the moment. Folks are aware that they can't really just spout off the same old lines about like become beautiful and live the life you've imagined, and whatever the things are. Folks are trying to figure out how to couch that language but it's really hard to couch it because it is so bald.
Mike: It's this weird thing where it's like she says, “You don't need to be thin. You do need to be healthy.” But her definition of the word healthy includes thin.
Aubrey: Well, also, health is an extremely relative term. Health for a type 1 diabetic or a person with cerebral palsy or a person with a genetic marker for cancer. All of those look like different things. This mandate, I think, people think it's like a “safer thing” to say, like, “I don't want you to be thin, I just want you to be healthy,” that's also fucked up.
Mike: It's hella mean. Also, why do people have to be healthy, Rachel?
Aubrey: Why? For what reason do people have to be healthy? And what you're saying isn't, “I want you to be healthy on your own terms.” What you're saying is, “I want you to appear to conform to my definition of your health.” I hate it, Mike. [laughs]
Mike: I know. It's really bad.
Aubrey: I hate it so hard.
Mike: There's also this atrocious, like, not in a chapter about weight. A chapter where she starts with this absurd humble brag about she's out at a happy hour with friends and she gets super drunk. And then she comes home really late midnight, she promised herself that she was going to go jogging three times that week. She went to the basement and got on the treadmill for 30 minutes at midnight.
Aubrey: Super weird.
Mike: But in this chapter, she asks you to imagine like a friend Pam, who's like, “Every week Pam's on a different diet, but she can't stick to them.” And then she says like, “Would you trust Pam, if she made a commitment to you? She's not going to be there for you because she can't even stick to these diets.”
Aubrey: Here's what's happening in this moment. Rachel Hollis is making the argument that fat people's bodies are a reflection of their character.
Mike: Yes, of their morality, like explicitly.
Aubrey: Period. You are a bad and unreliable friend if you're a fat person.
Mike: I hate this. She says, “Y'all would you respect her, this woman who starts and stops over and over again? Would you count on Pam when she committed to something or when she committed to you?”
Aubrey: Fuck off.
Mike: And it's like, “Well, what is Pam like, Rachel?”
Aubrey: Also, I'm having a strong reaction to this because my mom's name is Pam. So, I'm like, “Leave my fucking mom alone, Rachel.”
Mike: Get Aubrey’s mom's name [crosstalk] out of your mouth.
Aubrey: Come on.
Mike: There's something sort of darkly fascinating to me about Rachel, because I've known people like this. People that are just naturally, I think, very positive, and who have a lot of energy and are very goal oriented, but also shallow, it's difficult to get them to think deeply about an issue. It seems like they go through the world constantly baffled by other people, where they're just like, “Oh, why don't you overcome your problems?” This is maybe a weird flex, but I was listening to a really good Know Your Enemy podcast the other day about Ronald Reagan. He seems to have the same personality type, where he's obsessed with positivity. He's really extroverted and really good at working a room and being charming. But he also doesn't have a lot of curiosity about the world and his worldview and his beliefs and his knowledge is an inch deep. And the minute you try to penetrate beyond that, and try to get him to understand something more complex, it's like you hit a wall. This is something that I see over and over again with Rachel, is that people confront her with information, and she's just like, “I don't know about that. All I know is,” and she just goes back to her little talking points.
Aubrey: All I know is Southern people love monogram.
Mike: I just think that it's a fascinating portrait of a personality type that it's easy for these people to become very successful, I think, if they have privileges to begin with. Also reach a level of status where they physically cannot understand the privileges or the luck or any of the other factors that got them there.
Aubrey: Well, and in the United States, in particular, we have a culture that is so hungry for that rhetoric, and will affirm it at every turn, that those are also people who are more likely to be platformed, right?
Aubrey: Because that is a story that we've gotten comfortable telling ourselves about the US, which is like, “It's a place where if you put in the work, you can become anything you want.” So, we lift up success stories, I mean, in that way, “Oh, fuck Mike, I'm blowing my own mind.” In that way, it's a little bit like dieting. We're lifting up the very, very, very small portion of people who are exceptions to the rule. To be like, “Look, it's possible. You can do it too.” So, that everybody stays in this weird shitty hamster wheel of things that don't work. You lift up the Rachel Hollises of the world, you don't actually have to pay attention to. The entrenched nature of poverty, and the lack of social mobility, even in a “classless society,” blah, blah, blah.
Mike: People who break the rule allows you to keep believing that the rule doesn't exist.
Mike: Speaking of which, I'm going to send you one more passage.
Aubrey: Oh, can't wait.
Mike: One of the paragraphs of this is in italics, which I don't think come through when I copy paste it, so you can have to guess, but I think it's obvious.
Aubrey: [chuckles] Isn't the one that just says girl?
Mike: She doesn't a lot in her book. She's like, “Girl,” is like the whole. Okay, this is the section where we're going to talk about the other criticism of Rachel, which is that she's pretty privileged.
Mike: I know, how twist.
Aubrey: Hang on. Roll it back. Okay. “Have you spent a lifetime muting yourself for fear of what others will think? Are you an entrepreneur who calls your business a hobby because you worry about what your mother-in-law will say? Are you hesitating to go back to school because you think you're not smart enough? Do you hesitate to admit your dreams aloud because you're nervous about others making fun of you or judging you for your choices? Girl, I lived in fear of this for years. I worried that if you knew how much I love to work, you might call into question how I can do any of those things while being a successful mother. I've had too many people question my commitment to my children over the last 10 years and it influenced what I came to believe about being a working woman. It was a long battle from mommy guilt to acceptance. And here's what I've decided, I refuse to teach my daughter this narrative. I absolutely refuse to raise her with the ideal that only one parent is ultimately responsible for who she will become. I will not consent to the belief that having a mother with a full-time job means that she's not loved and well cared for.”
Mike: There's a very good BuzzFeed article in 2018 by Laura Turner, who talks about how everything that Rachel Hollis is talking about in her books, all of her obstacles are imagined obstacles. She talks about, like, “I have mommy guilt.” She talks about how she felt really bad when she had to leave her daughter, who was I believe, one at the time to go on a two-week business trip. Like, “Oh, everybody's going to be judging me.” And she thought when she mentioned her daughter to people on the trip, that they would be thinking like, “Oh, she left her daughter alone.” And then it's like, she's overcome that and now she feels fine about balancing work and life. But it's like, what were the obstacles?
Much is made when this book is published about the fact that she doesn't mention that she has a nanny until the acknowledgments at the end.
Aubrey: Ah, fuck man.
Mike: Most people who have kids and have to go on business trips, the problem is not mommy guilt. The problem is childcare for three or four days. There's this excruciating chapter about the recession, how she got through the recession in her third book. And she talks about like, “There's no shame and taking a second job.” A lot of people can't take second jobs because they have intermittent schedules at their first job and they don't know when they're going to be working, so they actually can't work more hours. There are structural reasons why people can't get second jobs.
Aubrey: Or they already have a second and a fucking third job. Now what, Rachel?
Mike: Yeah, exactly. There's a good review of her book by a woman named Kaitlyn Luckow, who talks about reading it as somebody with clinical depression. She's talking about how Rachel Hollis is one of her big things is choose happiness. She sells t-shirts that say “just choose happiness.” Kaitlyn says, “As an individual with depression, nothing is harder to hear from others than hearing that you can just choose happiness, and that it will cure you. Frankly, there is no cure for a mental illness. There are practices and medications that can help you process and live with it, but nothing will get rid of it permanently. Certainly not just a simple mind shift. Hearing these messages of choosing happiness can be so difficult to hear, because people with depression or other mental illnesses can't choose that. We don't have the luxury to be able to. It can make us think, ‘Well, what am I doing wrong? Why can't I just choose happiness?’ It further perpetuates feelings of self-loathing, which in the end can actually be deadly.”
Aubrey: She's talking about, like, “Just choose happiness.” I'm thinking about the people who I have known who have not had the opportunity to choose happiness, like, “Hey man, say it to a trans person who has suicidal ideation who can't access gender affirming healthcare.” Say it to a person who's experiencing homelessness, “Just choose happiness.”
Mike: Right. Drive an Uber. Like, no.
Aubrey: Yes. I would like you to try that shit out on 10 different people with radically different life experiences than yours.
Mike: Yeah, literally anyone, just speak to any real person.
Aubrey: Go for it, Rachel. Try it out, come back to me.
Mike: The last aspect of her book that I want to talk about before we get to the downfall is, I couldn't help myself, I wanted this to be a motivational guru episode with no science and no academic stuff. But then this is a passage in Rachel's third book.
Mike: She says, “Back in the 1960s, a neuroscientist named Paul D. MacLean formulated a model for something called the Triune Brain Theory.” Have you heard of this, the triune brain theory?
Aubrey: No, not ever.
Mike: This is where we get the phrase 'lizard brain.'
Mike: And it's exactly what it sounds like. So, the idea is that there's parts of your brain and these are actual physical parts of your brain that you can see. There's the inner nugget that is the literal lizard brain that is our least evolved form of thought. And then, the layer on top of that is like our monkey brains. Basically, Rachel calls it mammal brains. She talks about having a deer in the backyard. It can learn to trust you or the way that like dogs have personalities and dogs are capable of much more complex thought than a lizard. The third layer of our brain is the human brain, that's the higher order thinking, that's all the outside part of our brain, like all the wrinkly stuff. That's literally what she says in the book.
Aubrey: Wow, all the wrinkly stuff.
Mike: And that's, of course, where we're like we do the higher order stuff. Where it's like writing and Socrates and Shakespeare and all that kind of stuff.
Aubrey: I do like thinking about the gray wrinkly outer layer. And then just like, I don't know, like a soft cream center?
Mike: Yeah. I was thinking like that little lizard inside with levers.
Aubrey: I do like in classic fat lady form. I was like, “So, it's a candy bar?”
Aubrey: So, [unintelligible [00:31:18] candy bars.
Mike: One thing I've said about Rachel's work, it is actually quite remarkable how little she refers to any science. This was essentially the only, even reference to academic work that I could find in her books.
Aubrey: Yeah, I was going to say like, I'm actually fine with a self-help book that doesn't reference any science because I'm like, that’s not what you're here to do.
Mike: Yeah, it's fine.
Aubrey: It's fine.
Mike: But this is easily debunked. If you google this the third result is like, why the triune theory is fake. The guy that came up with it, this MacLean guy, he thought that there were different parts of the brain. And so he would take monkeys and he would remove specific parts of their brain, just to see what would happen. And the only data that this is based on, is he would remove the “lizard brain” part of the monkey brain. And he said, “Male monkeys would no longer growl at themselves when they looked into a mirror.”
Mike: He's like, “It's proof. It's a lizard brain.”
Mike: And I'm like, “Is it?”
Aubrey: Lizards famously growl at themselves.
Mike: I know. I found this great academic article called Your Brain Is Not an Onion With a Tiny Reptile Inside.
Mike: I love academics that give like clickbait titles. I love it. What they point out, we have this idea that evolution runs on this track, and humans are the highest level of complexity, and then dogs, and then lizards. What they point out in this article is that, like, all animals are equally evolved, because we're all here.
Aubrey: Right. We've all had the same time, more or less.
Mike: Right. Monkeys are not an uninvolved version of humans. We split off from a common ancestor seven million years ago. And then we kept evolving and they kept evolving. What they talk about is this idea that lizard brains are like, your lower order animals, that their brains are somehow less complex than humans. They talk about how an ant brain is really complex. Scientists cannot predict what they're going to do. Every organism is equally complex.
Aubrey: Yeah, I mean, I, I heard if you leave a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters, some words will get typed is what I heard.
Mike: It's not even true, obviously, the stuff about different parts of your brain aren't even true. This is something I didn't actually know. But in one of these articles, they actually show cross sections of like a whale brain and a deer brain and a human brain. And it's all the same parts, but they're different sizes. They're different densities. They're different shapes.
Aubrey: Some of them are nougat, some of them are caramel.
Mike: You're going to do this for the rest of the episode, aren’t you?
Mike: You're like--[crosstalk]
Aubrey: I'm going to be insufferable in a surprising new way.
Mike: In Rachel's defense, like this theory continues to show up in textbooks, which is really embarrassing.
Aubrey: It is totally fucking embarrassing that shows up in textbooks, but also it's just become part of common parlance, which means it's become part of our common beliefs.
Mike: That’s right, lizard brain. Yes.
Aubrey: But people keep saying it, so they keep believing it.
Mike: Yeah. Basically, that's the books. That's Rachel Hollis. That's her whole vibe. Those are the messages that she's sending out into the world.
Aubrey: Famous Southern lizard brain.
Mike: I know lizard brains, fat people are bad.
Aubrey: Poverty isn't real.
Mike: Poverty isn't real.
Aubrey: Think your way out of it.
Mike: And go on business trips, always, unless don't.
Aubrey: Jesus Christ.
Mike: Okay, so now we come to the downfall section. There's a couple chapters of this. So, the first wave of backlash comes in 2019 from a bunch of MLM sellers.
Aubrey: Oh, no. Is this where LuLaRoe comes in?
Mike: Yes. One thing we haven't mentioned yet, is that Rachel Hollis is deeply intertwined with MLMs, because her audience, mostly middle class, white, conservative Christian ladies, are the demographic most likely to get into multilevel marketing companies.
Aubrey: We should back up and say for folks who are unfamiliar,-
Mike: Yeah, we should say.
Aubrey: -multi-level marketing is any kind of company that's structured around not just direct sales of a product or service. But around those sales people, recruiting other sales people and then getting a cut of the sales of anyone they recruit.
Mike: Yes. The number that goes around a lot is that 99% of people who join MLMs end up losing money. And that's not true. It's actually higher than that.
Aubrey: Ah, shit.
Mike: Because oftentimes, when you look at the revenue statements of these companies, the people who earn money, it's only counting the revenue that they earn. So, will often say like, “5% of our sellers made $22,000 last year,” but some of those people spent $30,000 on the products.
Aubrey: It's gross revenue and not net profit.
Mike: We literally can't even say how bad they are. But it's like, however bad somebody says they are like, they're probably worse.
Aubrey: That's so gnarly.
Mike: One thing that's so interesting about the intersection between Rachel's audience and MLMs, is that she talks a lot about female entrepreneurs and like small business owners. And this is how MLMs pitch themselves to women. Even though it's the worst of being an employee and the worst of owning a small business at the same time, because you have to buy the stock yourself. If you work at a shoe store, you don't have to buy the shoes yourself to sell them.
Aubrey: Those shoes aren't in your garage collecting dust.
Mike: Yes. Whereas in MLM, you have to buy all the inventory, but you don't control the inventory. So, you can't say like, “Oh, people like red t-shirts this week. So, I'm going to make a bunch of red t-shirts.” You don't have control over the actual product or the pricing, or all of the things that you would be able to control as a small business owner and respond to the needs of your consumers.
Rachel, almost immediately after her first book is published, she starts speaking at large MLM conferences. She speaks at doTERRA, she speaks at Arbonne, she speaks at LuLaRoe, which everybody's talking about because of this documentary. It's fascinating that people have leaked the clips are like some of them are online. One of her talks, she starts out like, “Well, who in the room is struggling?” And then every single woman raises their hand because that's how-- that's how these things are structured to work is like you're always going to be struggling. And then Rachel goes on this long diatribe about how like, “I know that it's hard, but the reason you're doing it is because it's hard. And I know that you have people in your life who are telling you not to do this, and you need to push through.” And it's basically the core message she's giving to them is identical to the message that their top level MLM people are giving them, which is like, “It's your fault, and if your friends and family members are telling you that this makes them uncomfortable, and it's probably not a good idea for you, then you need to cut toxic people out of your life.”
Aubrey: Ugh. It's really, she's just physically embodying the role of devil's advocate.
Mike: What do you mean?
Aubrey: How about I just physically show up and advocate for the devil?
Mike: Oh, like, literal?
Aubrey: Yes. Hey, it seems like these people might be drifting away from you devil.
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: Let me line them back up. It's just the idea that you're like, “Yeah, no, no, no. I'll take doTERRA’s money and tell people to keep drinking essential oils.”
Mike: I know. In her latest book, in this passage, about the getting through the 2008 recession, rise and grind, drive for Uber, she has this whole thing about like, how you should take on more jobs, something, something. She says, “If you're not sure how to make extra income, there are so many ideas to help you. But please remember this important prerequisite. Figure out a way to make more income that doesn't cost you any money to start for real. I'm positive somebody is going to read this and be inspired and head over to the internet and ask, ‘how she could make extra income?’ And then four weeks later, her starter kit has arrived for the new at home business. She just paid $700 to join. Don't be dumb. Figure out ways to make money that don't require money.”
Mike: Rachel is right here. Whatever rise and grind bullshit you're going to do, don't join an MLM if you need money.
Aubrey: But also, if you're Rachel Hollis, do take money from MLMs to speak at their conferences.
Mike: It's also deeply hypocritical of her to say this in her book. But whatever, at least she is saying something true. And then this blows up on MLM Instagram. And MLM influencers go hard after Rachel Hollis for this, and they're like, “You've been taking their money, you're supporting this for years.” And people are pissed.
Aubrey: Yeah. I can see how they got there.
Mike: Well, yeah.
Aubrey: You're making things vague enough that people can attach whatever they want to what you're saying and project all kinds of things on to it. And then as soon as you say something like, “I think I'll order chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla.” There will be people who are like, “Fuck you, vanilla is great.” You just haven't been saying anything specific.
Mike: That starts to create some little cracks in Rachel's public profile. People start sniffing around. April 2020 is her second scandal. I'm going to send you something. This is a Rachel Hollis Instagram post.
Aubrey: Oh no. It's a fucking inspirational graphic.
Mike: With her own name given as the attribution.
Aubrey: Oh God. “When you really want something, you'll find a way. When you don't really want something, you'll find an excuse.” I am so irritated.
Mike: I feel torn about this because her second scandal is a plagiarism scandal.
Aubrey: Oh. Did somebody else say this?
Mike: Yeah, so she- apparently this is nearly identical to a quote from another motivational speaker named Jim Rohn. There's this BuzzFeed article comes out and it catalogs all of the sketchy plagiarism that she's done. I'm not defending plagiarism, but every single one of the quotes is so vacuous that I have trouble getting worked up about this. The other words that she's attributed to herself, is the phrase, “Ambition is not a dirty word.” Which I guess is like a 2008 self-help book titled.
Aubrey: Who thinks it's-- What?
Mike: Another one is, “Someone else's opinion of you is none of your business,” which she stole from RuPaul. But then RuPaul stole it from the title of a 1979 self-help book.
Aubrey: All of these are so sort of like-
Mike: So dumb.
Aubrey: -gestures at wittiness.
Mike: They're not cute.
Aubrey: They're not cute, and they're not especially insightful. And even if they were, I would be really shocked all the hell, if like 2019 was the first time someone said, “If you really want something, you'll find a way. And if you don't, you'll find an excuse.”
Mike: But then, okay, but the really bad one. The legitimately indefensible one is in April 2020, she posts on Instagram a graphic that just says, Still I Rise.
Mike: But it doesn't have any attribution.
Aubrey: Come on.
Mike: She didn't say that it was from her, but considering how many quotes she puts out that are from her. It doesn't mention Maya Angelou.
Aubrey: Right. There's a reputation building.
Mike: Yeah. This is her first real scandal that goes mainstream. I love these “cancellations.” Because so often, it's not necessarily about what the person did in the first place. It's about how they respond. So, I'm going to send you Rachel's apology, and you're going to read it.
Aubrey: Oh, God. Oh, no.
Mike: It's good.
Aubrey: “This morning, I found out that my social team posted a graphic on my Instagram yesterday that said ‘Still I Rise,’ that is obviously an immortal line from a Maya Angelou poem, only no credit was given to her. I immediately deleted the post, but I wanted to make sure I'm publicly apologized. While I didn't create or post the graphic. I'm the leader of the team that did so and I accept full responsibility for their actions.” Wow. “I can't imagine how deeply hurtful it is to the African American community to see the words of your heroes used without credit. This has happened to you far too often and I hate, I literally hate, that anything produced by my company added to your pain. I heard once that the only real apology was one where you don't make an excuse, so why I won't.” [laughs]
Mike: Three sentences after making two excuses.
Aubrey: I'll just blame it on my employees. [laughs] “I'm deeply sorry. I understand that this post without credit is not a little thing to you. This is death by thousand cuts. This is the millionth type of incident like this you've experienced. This is not okay. I apologize sincerely. We will do better. “
Aubrey: You know what this reminds me of, is this reminds me of her church talk where she's like, "You're beautiful just as you are. Now, here's how to lose weight.”
Mike: That's the thing. It's just like completely contradictory sentences right next to each other, basically.
Aubrey: I didn't do it. But I understand that saying I didn't do it won't be well received. So, I'm going to take the blame for other people who did it. Congratulations to me.
Mike: Exactly. It's like I'm trying to rise above it and be like, “I am ultimately not responsible for it, but I'll take responsibility anyway.” Wow, Rachel.
Aubrey: It's not a world ender.
Aubrey: Like, nothing about this. No one's going to live or die as a result of fucking Rachel Hollis posting an uncredited Maya Angelou quote to her Instagram feed. Every part of that sentence is nonsense, but it is so egregious, and the apology is so aggressively bad.
Mike: This is the most 2021 detail of this. According to an anonymous former employee, who was interviewed by the YouTuber, SAVY Writes Books, who does all these videos deep diving into Rachel Hollis. In this interview, the employee said that somebody got fired for this, and the person who got fired was like a woman of color. I don't know that I needed anybody to get fired over this, Rachel. It just is weird now.
Aubrey: This was a call for her to work on her own whiteness. Not a call for her to fire a person of color.
Mike: I know. I don't think that's what anybody wanted, Rachel. But again, we don't 100% know that this is true. So, we want to be careful.
Aubrey: Yes, totally. But either way, the things that would be meaningful anti-racist accountability, I'm guessing are not things that have shown up now on her feed since then.
Mike: I wasn't going to mention this, but I got obsessed with this. So, in this summer, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests, Rachel Hollis doesn't post anything. Finally, she puts out like a really long post. She's using the metaphor of tomatoes, she's like, “These are tomatoes I grew in my garden. They grow in the soil and they absorb all the nutrients from the soil. And if you're a white person in America, the soil that you grew up in is white supremacy and racism, and you've probably absorbed a lot of nutrients from that soil, even if you're not aware of it.” One of the fucking weirdest things that she does in this is she's trying to talk about the legacy of racism and how long racism has gone on in America. She says, like, “Think about it, everybody. We had racism for 400 years in America. And we've learned from Malcolm Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours to master something.”
Aubrey: Fuck. [laughs] No. [laughs]
Mike: I'm not fucking kidding.
Aubrey: No, Michael.
Mike: Then she breaks it down. She's like I don't know 6000 days or whatever it is, and then she's like, “10,000 hours of those days.”
Aubrey: Michael, I'm going to die here.
Mike: She does all this weird math, and then she ends up, she's like, “That means we've mastered racism like 72,000 times, or something.: She's trying, but it's just like, Rachel, why are you doing math? It's so weird.
Aubrey: Also, why are you bringing Malcolm Gladwell into this?
Mike: I know. [laughs]
Aubrey: Oh, my God. “According to the secret we could manifest our way out.” Like what?
Mike: Also, what's so weird is because usually when public figures and influencers are decidedly silent on political stuff, it usually means that they're secretly conservatives, but I think Rachel is secretly a liberal.
Aubrey: Do you think?
Mike: Oh, absolutely. Because she went out of her way in her first book to have a, like, “I'm cool with gay people chapter.” Honestly, by the standards of like us in 2018 or whatever is not clearing a high bar but it was a Christian publisher and the publisher asked her to remove the chapter.
Aubrey: Oh wow.
Mike: And she wouldn't do it.
Mike: And this is the other piece of evidence. Man, I'm struggling to say this without a lot of ridicule in my voice. Her husband has a tattoo that says, “Ally.”
Mike: Because he's on boards of charities LGBT charities and stuff in LA. That's another reason why I think that they're woke but also insufferable.
Aubrey: Ally fucking tattoo. This is a little pet peeve of mine. You don't get to decide if you're an ally to a community, they get to decide.
Mike: Wait, should I have my tattoo removed?
Aubrey: Yeah, sorry. This is very awkward. I'm sending you a gift certificate for laser tattoo removal, Mike. But being an ally isn't just being like, “I don't intend gay people harm.”
Mike: Also, anyone who's that self-congratulatory, I'm always just a little suspicious of like, if that's like a big part of their identity, like, I'm nice.
Aubrey: Yeah, totally.
Mike: It feels more a message to other straight people, than it is a message to gay people. That's how I perceive it. It's like you want to show off to other straight people that you have the cred of the gays.
Aubrey: Oh, my God, Mike. It's like when we were in the fight for marriage and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie did the thing of like, “We're not getting married until everyone can get married.” And then a bunch of other straight people did that thinking that that, like did something, accomplished like someone was counting all the straight people who didn't get married, which wasn't happening.
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: Where I'm like, you could have just written a check. You could have just gotten knocked on some doors.
Mike: We want your money, Brad.
Aubrey: Oh, there are things you could have done.
Mike: The next sub downfall before the real downfall.
Mike: This is another weird one. In June of 2020, Rachel and Dave announced that they're getting divorced. This is one that I feel weird about because they've both received a lot of criticism for basically putting on this nice face to the world, like, we looked at their Instagram photos, like, “We're this happy couple and everything's great.” They were doing a daily feed together where they would like wake up and every morning they would live stream every day as a couple. Like, “It's us in bed, hanging out.” And then they said in their divorce announcement that they had been having problems as early as 2017, and had been working on it. They've received criticism for keeping that a secret, which I honestly think is a little bit unfair. I think if people want to have secret marital troubles, that's fine. But also, people have pointed out that they were also selling marital counseling. They were doing these weekend retreats, and charging $1800 for people to come and get marital advice from them. And they would do these how to have a healthy relationship seminars. They were extremely explicit in the marketing for the seminars, they're like, “We're not licensed counselors. We don't have any expertise in this. But we're in a great marriage.”
Aubrey: And then it's not so great.
Mike: Yeah. And it's this weird thing where it's like, I feel weird about semi sort of criticizing somebody for getting divorced or criticizing a public figure for keeping personal thing personal, which I think is totally fine. But then it's like you're literally selling something that wasn't true for this entire time. Like why were people listening to your marital advice then?
Aubrey: I feel a little bit like about influencers having their relationships be part of their brand, similarly to how I feel when people get matching tattoos.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: Which is like, maybe it works out, in which case, congratulations. And if it doesn't, this is going to be like a thing for you.
Mike: I know.
Aubrey: I mean, it really does seem like they kind of painted themselves into a little bit of a corner. By having live streams that are that frequent, and that regular, by having this cornerstone of their work be defined around the success of their relationship.
Mike: It's another one of those ones where I'm like, I don't care. I don't care that you got divorced. But maybe don't sell 'your learn to have a perfect relationship from us' packages for a couple years. It's just so weird when influencers have their families, their kids are in a lot of their Instagram posts too. These families are also an economic unit at the same time.
Aubrey: Yeah, I don't really have anything to say about any particular influencers, like relationship, their romantic relationship, or their parenting or any of that sort of stuff. It makes me nervous on their behalf, when that becomes part of their brand, because I'm like, you're going to have things happen that contradict your “brand.” They're then tying the sense of “perfect personal life,” to their ability to make money and to who they're answerable to, and when and all of that. That's the stuff that I just get vicarious, like hives, from thinking about it.
Mike: It's part of the downfall because they receive a huge wave of criticism for this, that they basically, the narrative starts to form it like they're scammers, which I think is on some level fair. I just want to pause here before we circle back to the infamous TikTok. I think the reason why I struggle to get worked up about any of these scandals that are part of the downfall is because her written work is so bad--
Aubrey: Oh, buddy. [laughs]
Mike: This is something that I've seen with so many people where their actual, the core of their work, the publicly available stuff that they do is odious. But then what takes them down is some weird, legalistic technical rule that they broke.
Aubrey: Yeah, that makes sense to me. This is such a weird amalgam of things that don't matter and things that now do matter because we've decided they matter.
Mike: Exactly. This is what's so weird, and why I was tearing my hair out for so much of the research on this. I'm like, “People are mad at her for saying something mean about an MLM?” Her book is terrible. I'm supposed to be mad at her like, yes, hypocrisy, fine, but this is what we're mad at her about? It just as over and over again, I'm reading through her book and why are we talking about plagiarizing right now? Her book is bad.
Aubrey: I don't know, man. Again, it doesn't matter, but we've decided it does, so does.
Mike: This brings us back around to the infamous TikTok.
Aubrey: Yeah, so the infamous TikTok was, Rachel Hollis saying that she had said something publicly about-- there was somebody who came to her house twice a week to clean her toilets, I believe was the phrasing [crosstalk] the toilet. And then she made a TikTok saying like, “People are criticizing me because that's unrelatable. But, yeah, I am unrelatable and I've worked really hard to be unrelatable. I worked my ass off to be unrelatable. I'm unrelatable in the way that a lot of women that I admire unrelatable throughout history, like Harriet Tubman,” is the thing that she said. Good God. Especially now knowing that that came on the heels of the Still I Rise thing is just mind blowingly poor decision making on her part.
Mike: It's bad. The TikTok happens, and people are pissed. It seems she lost 100,000 Instagram followers. She had to postpone her conference. It was supposed to be in May, but they had to postpone it until, I think, it was like last month because like nobody was signing up because everybody was so mad at her. And it seems like Target might have pulled a product line. Everything deflated very quickly. And just like with the Maya Angelou thing, the apology, this is like a masterclass and how not to apologize for something. So, you're Rachel Hollis dramatic reader, so I'm going to send the entire text to you.
Aubrey: Oh, okay. We got quite a bit of text here.
Mike: Look how long it is.
Aubrey: “I made a post last week that was upsetting to people. And even though it was never my intent, I own that it was and I apologize. Was my post upsetting because I said I have someone who cleans my house twice a week?”
Mike: This is my favorite thing. She's like, “Are you mad at me because somebody cleans my house?”
Aubrey: No, Rachel. No one's mad that you're employing someone.
Mike: No one fucking cares you have a cleaner, Rachel.
Aubrey: Congratulations, job creator.
Mike: I know. [laughs]
Aubrey: Jesus fucking Christ.
Mike: It's like a little kid. You're like, “Don't hit your brother.” And they're like, “Oh, I'm not allowed to wave my arm through the air?” You're like, “That's not why I'm mad.”
Aubrey: Oh, my God. Okay. “Was my post upsetting because I said, I have someone who cleans my house twice a week? I've talked a lot about this over the years. I have a nanny. I have someone who helps with cleaning. I have a team at work who helped build this business. It's crucial that I keep talking about it. I want you to know that it's a group effort. Was my post upsetting because I mentioned some of my favorite women in history?” Wow.
Mike: Again, no one cares that those are your favorite women in history. If you put out a post just saying like, “One of my favorite women is Harriet Tubman,” like no one would have cared.
Aubrey: They'd be like, “This is weird, but okay.”
Mike: What are you talking about? [laughs]
Aubrey: “This one is even harder for me because those women are the most badass I can even think of. Someone on my team said, "I think people believe you're comparing yourself to them." There is no comparison to believe that because I mentioned them I am comparing myself to them is ridiculous. Do I aspire to be as brave, as fierce to live life on my own terms and hopefully inspire other women to do the same? Hell yes. But I cannot now or ever compare myself to those women and I don't want to. I don't want to try and be the next fill in the blank. I'd rather try and be the first me.” Jesus.
Aubrey: “I didn't respond to these things on Friday when I heard people were upset. I listened to my team instead of my gut. I listened when they told me not to respond, to let it blow over. I listened when they said they would monitor the situation, which meant monitor comments."
Mike: Because people had been noticing that comments, like angry comments by women of color were disappearing.
Aubrey: Oh God.
Mike: This is Rachel thing, like, “My team told me to ignore it and they deleted a bunch of the comments.”
Aubrey: But also, we just went through this with Maya Angelou.
Mike: We just did this.
Aubrey: Why are you doing the--? Argh.
Mike: In Rachel's defense, she does have an entire book called Girl, Stop Apologizing, that makes sense that she's bad at this.
Aubrey: Listen, it's so bizarre to be like, “I want you to know that this is a group effort and I need to be better about saying it.” I'm like, “You've built a whole fucking self-help book empire on you don't need anybody else, you can do it yourself.” Acknowledging that it's a group effort would mean reorienting yourself help work to focus on interdependence, and focus on building systems that do right by people, not focusing on telling people to like, “Fuck the haters and you do what you want one, rise and grind,” blah, blah, blah.
Mike: I guess it was like a day later or something, she then deleted that because obviously people were mad. She then, I don't know a couple more days went by, and then she released another apology that is slightly better, we're not going to read it because it's also long, but it's like, “I acknowledge my privilege. I caused pain to women of color.” She finally was specific about acknowledging what she actually did. And she basically said, like, “I'm going to do better,” something like-- It was a better celebrity apology, but it was a pretty standard celebrity apology.
As people do, she went dark for a while, but then she's now gone back to posting things and that's basically where we are now, that she just had her conference and it was virtual, like half virtual, half people in the room, but it seems there weren't that many people in the room. It seems they didn't even sell out the much smaller venue they had because of COVID. I don't know at this point it seems like the air has gone out of her to some extent. Although what's interesting is if you read the comments on her apology post, they're all from conservatives saying like, “I'm disgusted that you're giving into the woke mob.”
Aubrey: Oh, Lord.
Mike: Given who her audience is, some of the popularity that she's losing might be because of her apology. She had to make the implicit explicit, she had to say, like, “I've harmed women of color,” she said all these things that you can't say and remain an apolitical public figure in America at this point.
Aubrey: What does it mean for the air to come out of what she's doing? She's still got 1.6 million followers.
Aubrey: Presumably she still has pretty decent staff team working around her. She may be losing out on opportunities, but I'm guessing that she is still significantly financially solvent.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Aubrey: In these moments when we're talking about people being canceled, it feels really important to me to be really precise about like, “What does that mean for them?”
Mike: This to me is the real ending is it like, nobody ever really gets canceled, and if you're not somebody who follows Instagram and twitter obsessively, you have no idea that any of this is going on. I can see you're going down one level and not being a top tier influencer, but being a mid-tier influencer, but yeah, she's going to continue to make huge sums of money and be an influential person for her audience.
Aubrey: I also will say, there is something about like this phrasing of the woke mob is a truly wild way to talk about like, people of color want you not to say racist things to and about them.
Mike: Don't go to her comments right now.
Aubrey: I can't think of a thing that I'm less likely to go.
Mike: Yeah, please don't.
Aubrey: [laughs] Don’t check the comments on Rachel Hollis post on Instagram.
Mike: So, that was it. That was that was our journey, our long and winding journey through Rachel Hollis.
Aubrey: I'm exhausted.
Mike: I know, me too.
Aubrey: I'm exhausted not because of anything particular to Rachel Hollis, but because of the ways in which it just feels like she's drawing a bunch of our existing cultural logic to its natural conclusion.
Mike: Yeah, she's saying it out loud.
Aubrey: There is something here that feels really interesting about the ways in which white middle class American womanhood is centered in body positive spaces and in wellness spaces, is very uncritical kind of way. Part of the story of this Rachel Hollis downfall is just when you just scratch at the surface of the centering of those, that extremely narrow set of identities, it all just falls apart.
Mike: And she's this parallel trajectory of like, what has happened to that rhetoric since 2015. There was a time when you could hold all of these contradictions and nobody would point them out. And I think what Rachel has come up against in 2021 is just like, these contradictions can't hold. You can't keep telling people like, “Work hard, but also parent hard. Love your body, but also change.” You just can't maintain that cognitive dissonance for that long.
Aubrey: Yeah, that's right. And that there is outside of Rachel Hollis, per se, I think there's this growing realization that's happening. It's one that I've been through. It's one that you've been through of like, “Oh, wait a minute, maybe we're in a real, the emperor has no clothes,” kind of moment here.
Mike: I want to end with something that really struck me reading so much of what Rachel has written. This is an excerpt from a Christian blogger who reviewed very negatively Rachel's book. She's talking about how Rachel says to like, “Chase after your dreams no matter what.” And she says, “What is Rachel Hollis’ dream? Jesus never called us to chase after power, money and fame. He actually had quite a bit to say about those things. He called us to lay our pursuit of all that stuff down and follow Him. He said, ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39.”
I'm not in the business of ending our show with Bible quotes typically, but one of the things I noticed in everything that Rachel has written and said over the years, is there's almost nothing in there about morality. She says in her famous bikini photo talk, she ends it by saying that like, “What's on the outside doesn't matter. What's on the inside that matters.” But nothing anywhere in her books tells you about how to be a good person on the inside. That to me is the biggest lost opportunity and something that I see so much in various other self-help books I've read over the years. It's all self-stuff. Part of being a person is finding out what problems there are in the world, and helping other people and how to help other people and how to serve yourself spiritually and how to be a good person is actually really hard. There's not that much advice about that.
Aubrey: Right. Totally. What would it look like to try and be a better mom? And also let yourself off the hook when you fall short of what you're aiming for. Or, what would it look like to talk about integrating volunteer work and community building work into your family routine and getting your kids in the habit of volunteering? There are things that are in the pocket of what she's aiming for. That could have mobilized more quite a bit further, and could have mobilized more people to be of service either to others or to themselves, and not to fuckin capitalism, which is really what it seems is happening here.
Mike: Yeah. 100%. It's just a restatement of the existing ideology, as if it's a revelation. But it's just like, “No, you're just saying things that people mostly already believe, ultimately.”
Aubrey: Right. And it's not a radical thing to be like, “I want money, and I want the things that I want and I don't want to have to wait for them.”
Mike: Rachel would have been really good at giving advice because she's southern, and southern people are super moral.
Aubrey: The Rubik's cube of my week has been, “Why the fuck would Rachel Hollis lie about being southern?” I can't stop turning that over in my brain.
Aubrey: And you're right, I don't care. But now it's all I can think about, and it's a very confusing combination.
Mike: [laughs] I'm so glad I've done this to you.
Mike: This is my only goal at the show. It's just to make you think about the dumbest shit all day.
Aubrey: Now I have to get you to start watching Bachelor in Paradise and then we'll be even.