Rachel Hollis Video Controversy Explained as Housekeeper Remarks Spark Backlash

Best-selling self-improvement writer and wellness influencer Rachel Hollis apologized earlier this month after facing backlash over a TikTok video widely slammed as flaunting her privilege and exuding white feminism.

In the now-deleted video, Hollis—author of The New York Times best seller Girl, Wash Your Face—recounted remarks made on her wealth during a live stream in which she spoke of her house cleaner.

"Someone commented and said 'You are privileged AF,'" said Hollis, 38. "And I was like, 'You're right, I'm super freaking privileged. But also, I worked my a** off to have the money, to have someone come twice a week and clean my toilets.'"

"And then she said 'Well, you're unrelatable,'" Hollis continued, before emitting an exaggerated laugh. "What is it about me that made you think I wanna be relatable?"

"No sis, literally everything I do in my life is to live a life 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."

Hollis concluded her video by stating: "Literally every woman I admire in history was unrelatable. If my life is relatable to most people, I'm doing it wrong."

Rachel Hollis comparing herself to Harriet Tubman is WILD pic.twitter.com/62lEBmr8Iu

— Angie Treasure (@snark_tank) April 2, 2021

The video's caption read: "Harriet Tubman, [Ruth Bader Ginsburg], Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, Amelia Earhart, Frida [Kahlo], Malala Yousafzai, Wu Zetian... all Unrelatable AF. Happy Women's History Month!"

Hollis soon came under fire, with particular outrage towards her insinuation that she shares an "unrelatable" streak with a list mostly made up of women of color who have cemented their achievements through exceptional struggle.

Tubman, who was born enslaved, escaped slavery and helped conduct dozens of Black people towards freedom of their own. Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in her native Pakistan over her advocacy for girls' education.

Critics also expressed unease with Hollis' use of the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) term "Sis" in her video.

Social media users took further issue with the influencer's characterization of her privilege, as well as reducing the woman she employs to someone who "cleans the toilets."

After deleting a previous regretful post placing the blame on her team, Hollis—who wrote her second book Girl, Stop Apologizing in 2019—issued an apology for her statements in "recent posts."

"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," Hollis said in an Instagram post. "By talking about my own success, I diminished the struggles and hard work of many people who work tirelessly every day."

"I disregarded the people whose hard work doesn't afford them financial security, often due to inherently racist and biased systems," she continued. "I acknowledge my privilege and the advantage I have as a white woman, no matter how I grew up."

Hollis also vowed to do "something I should have already done," which is to "be quiet and listen."

"I know I have disappointed so many people, myself included, and I take full accountability. I am so sorry."

This was not the first time Hollis was criticized for her social media posts. In April last year, Hollis tweeted "Still, I RISE"—the titular quote from Maya Angelou's famed poem—without attributing its author.

Hollis subsequently deleted the tweet and apologized, shifting the blame to her social team. A 2019 report by BuzzFeed found Hollis to have plagiarized a number of other prominent people by passing off their unattributed quotes as her own.

Hollis' PR crisis spiralled further following a Thursday story by The New York Times documenting a crumbling empire that once promoted realness and relatability, as witnessed by disenchanted employees and followers.

Rachel Hollis speaks at SXSW
Rachel Hollis speaks onstage at Featured Session Own Your Story, Own Your Strength, with Rachel Hollis during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center, March 9, 2019. Dave Pedley/Getty Images for SXSW