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Popular Lifestyle Influencer Facing a Major Backlash

Rachel Hollis, who is white, is losing followers after seemingly comparing herself to Harriet Tubman
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2021 11:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Lifestyle influencer Rachel Hollis rose quickly to prominence (and riches) thanks to her best-sellers Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. But as a profile by Katherine Rosman in the New York Times makes clear, Hollis' self-help empire is facing serious turbulence for the first time. She has lost 100,000 Instagram followers and canceled or postponed two major events. "Overnight," Hollis has found herself "in a very unhappy, and unfamiliar, place: of abrupt online disavowal," writes Rosman. The reason? It began with a video in which Hollis was pushing back criticism that she was privileged and unrelatable. In the clip, Hollis refers to a woman who "cleans the toilets" in her home, and she also suggests a comparison between herself in the caption to women such as Harriet Tubman. The criticism over a rich, white woman comparing herself to Tubman came swiftly, and Hollis apologized.

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The first apology, though, didn't go well. Hollis blamed her "team" and denied she was comparing herself to the women in the caption. The backlash intensified, leading to apology No. 2. “I am so deeply sorry for the things I said in my recent posts,” she wrote. “By talking about my own success, I diminished the struggles and hard work of many people who work tirelessly every day.” Rosman's piece details other trouble, including staffers complaining that the persona Hollis embodies in her videos has grown distant from the egotistical boss in the office, charges of plagiarism, and followers feeling "bamboozled" by Hollis' surprise divorce. Then there's her appropriation of Black women's words ("girl" and "sis") and images while pushing a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps message. “Do you not know the system is rigged against me?" says Vivian Kaye, a Black woman. "That’s not feminism. That’s just putting lipstick on the patriarchy.” Read the full story. (Read more influencer stories.)

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