Girl, Wash Your Face drives home an important truth for women: you are in control of your own life. You are responsible for your own happiness and the person you ultimately become. But too many women can’t embrace this truth because a slew of painful lies gets in their way, destroying their self-worth. These 20 lies, which are thrown at women by society, the media, and even their families, can be disarmed by the following ideas:
By dissecting these 20 lies, shedding light on the truth, and sharing the strategies she used to overcome them, Hollis hopes to inspire women to reach their full potential.
The Lie: Outside Factors Are Making Me Unhappy. From the outside, other people’s lives can look perfect -- home, children, jobs, relationships. This can make you feel like a failure.
The Truth: We’re all falling short. If you’re unhappy, it’s on you. You are responsible for your happiness, and life doesn’t have to be perfect or like anyone else’s for you to be happy.
The Lie: I’ll Never Be Good Enough. Women are often conditioned from childhood to believe nothing they do or become will ever be good enough. This can lead to a drive for achievement that leads to self-neglect and even illness.
The Truth: You are loved, worthy, and good enough just as you are. It’s critical to take care of yourself, listen to your body, and put yourself on your own priority list.
The Lie: I’m Superior to You. Women all too often tear each other down, gossiping and talking behind each others’ backs. We compete with each other out of insecurity.
The Truth: This behavior hurts all of us and destroys the ability to make friendships. True friendship comes with keeping an open mind, looking for commonality instead of differences.
The Lie: I’m Not Far Enough Along in My Career and Personal Life: Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished, fearing that the life they wanted has passed them by.
The Truth: Goals don’t have an expiration date; you can continue to strive to reach them. Not being where you thought you should be may be the best thing to happen to you.
The Lie: Other People’s Home Lives Are Perfect: Many women are struggling to keep up with the demands of parenthood, home life and work. Other people’s lives look calmer and more organized; this can lead to a sense that you’re failing.
The Truth: We all are living in a state of chaos, no matter how things appear. When we learn to embrace and even love the chaos, we can find joy in our daily lives, no matter how messy.
The Lie: Only My Way of Life Is Correct: We can find ourselves surrounded entirely by people who look, think, and act like we do. But when everything looks like us, we start seeing the world as “us” and the “others.”
The Truth: When we stay in our own lane, we miss out on the richness and beauty of a diverse world with amazing people of all races, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and any other category.
The Lie: I Have No Idea How to Be a New Mom: When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mom caring for an infant -- something women think they should innately know how...
Unlock the full book summary of Girl, Wash Your Face by signing up for Shortform .
Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:
Here's a preview of the rest of Shortform's Girl, Wash Your Face summary:
This book drives home an important truth for women: You are in control of your own life. You are responsible for your happiness and for the person you become. And you are capable of more than what you’ve become right now..
Unfortunately, many women can’t embrace this truth because a slew of painful lies gets in their way, destroying their sense of self-worth and impeding their ability to reach full potential. These lies, thrown at women by society, the media, and even their families, include:
Women too often absorb these lies as truth, leading to self-destructive behavior. They let others treat them badly and accept less than they deserve. They buy things they can’t afford to impress others and self-medicate with alcohol, food or other distractions. They even buy their kids’ love instead of parenting.
But it doesn’t have to be this way; women can change their trajectory and improve their lives.** The first step toward...
From the outside, other people’s lives can look perfect -- home, children, jobs, relationships, looks. This can make you feel like a failure -- you’re just not measuring up. You can’t be happy if you feel like a failure.
The reality is, we’re all falling short. Even people who look like they have it all together have their own struggles. Hollis is a lifestyle blogger married to a successful executive. His job means she gets to attend the Oscars in glamorous gowns. Her job means she’s often surrounded by images of home-life perfection. She makes a living telling other women how to make their lives better, advising them on workouts, skin care, cooking and parenting.
Though her life might appear perfect, she wants women to know the truth: she’s falling short every day. She’s not a perfect wife, mother, friend, boss or Christian. She struggles in life and fails repeatedly. Though life isn’t perfect, she doesn’t let setbacks deter her and steal her happiness. Her goal is to be a better version of herself every day; she knows she can try again tomorrow if she falls short.
Society puts enormous...
We easily fall into the trap of thinking something else will make us happy.
The author thought leaving her small town behind and arriving in Los Angeles would make her happy, but her internal struggles followed her. Have you ever made a change in your life that you thought would solve all your problems? What was the change?
Many women have developed the bad habit of making promises to themselves and then breaking them. They talk about going to the gym, walking a mile in the morning, training for a marathon, or whatever their goal is, but then don’t follow through. Often the excuse for breaking a promise to yourself is flimsy -- you just didn’t feel like it, or something good was on TV. Women go to great lengths to keep our promises to others, but break promises to themselves easily.
Blowing off a commitment to yourself -- working out, cleaning your closet -- doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. You’re teaching yourself not to count on you. Yes, life does sometimes interfere with our plans, but if breaking promises to ourselves becomes a regular thing, we need to be aware of it.
If you continuously break promises to yourself it becomes a deeply ingrained habit that will be difficult to overcome. Our subconscious holds a history of how we’ve responded to challenges in the past. The standard we’ve set for ourselves in the past is where we’ll end up -- unless we push through and make a change.
For example, if you decide on a goal, such as running a race, what happens if you’re tired after...
"I LOVE Shortform as these are the BEST summaries I’ve ever seen...and I’ve looked at lots of similar sites. The 1-page summary and then the longer, complete version are so useful. I read Shortform nearly every day."
What will happen if you keep all the big and small promises you make to yourself?
The first promise the author made to herself that she vowed to keep was giving up Diet Coke for a month. She focused on this small goal, pushed through, and was successful. Is there something unhealthy in your life you’d like to give up? How about setting the goal of doing without for just 7 days?
A drive for accomplishment can cause emotional and physical harm if it stems from a place of never feeling good enough. These feelings of inadequacy are often rooted in childhood and can make you feel like you’re falling short at home, work, or in any other area of your life.
The author shares her struggle with workaholism to illustrate this concept and show other women that it’s important to take care of yourself, listen to your body, and accept that they are good enough. She often felt compelled to work nonstop until she was ill, exhausted and even angry. This is a problem she’s constantly working on.
Part of this stems from a good place: She loves her job. Her team is great to work with and her work is fulfilling. Her dream of lifting up other women is succeeding and she is rewarded by the online and offline support she receives.
Part of her workaholism, however, stems from a place of insecurity. Her home life can be chaotic; raising four young children and maintaining a good relationship with her husband is hard. So when choosing between success and rewards at work and the difficulties and chaos of home life, she got in the habit of...
Have you made it onto your priority list?
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed with responsibilities, both inside and outside the home? What physical symptoms have you experienced because of stress?
Women all too often tear each other down, gossiping and talking behind each others’ backs, even making fun of other women. This behavior is usually traceable back to insecurities that developed in childhood. In pointing out someone else’s flaws, we somehow think we can diminish our own.
Women judging other women is a hurtful, spiteful impulse; the fact that everyone does it doesn’t make it OK. It keeps us from building stronger friendships and from connecting in deeper ways.
The author was once on a plane with a horribly behaved little boy who screamed nonstop. She kept wondering why his mother allowed this behavior. When he was quieted by a bag of candy, Hollis was even more judgemental. Sugar? Rewarding his behavior? But at the baggage carousel she was struck by the look in the parents’ eyes-- overwhelmed and near tears. It hit her that she didn’t know this woman’s story. Perhaps the child had special needs or struggles no one was aware of. Instead of offering help or simply giving this mother the benefit of the doubt, Hollis judged her and found her lacking....
With Shortform, you can:
Access 1000+ non-fiction book summaries.
Access 1000+ premium article summaries.
Take notes on your
Read on the go with our iOS and Android App.
Download PDF Summaries.
Judging other women hinders friendships.
Have you ever encountered catty women who judged you? What did they say about you or to you? How did the experience make you feel?
In relationships, many women become versions of themselves they don’t recognize, sacrificing their self-worth to keep the love of a man. If a woman isn’t taught to love herself, she may go to great lengths to keep the love of a man.
Dysfunction begins the first time a woman allows herself to be treated badly, sending the message that this is an acceptable way to treat her; sometimes the blinders of love let this behavior continue.
The truth is, people will treat you with as much or as little respect as you permit. As long as you allow someone to treat you badly, they will keep doing so. If you don’t value yourself, no one else will value you.
The author illustrates the concept of “allowing someone to treat you badly” with the story of the beginning of her relationship with her now-husband.
She met Dave through work when she was 19 years old. While he was older and, she thought, “out of her league,” she fell in love. She had no dating experience but gave out a mature, responsible vibe in the professional world. Dave didn’t realize how young she was and they began seeing each other. When she finally told him her age, he was wary -- she...
A dysfunctional relationship begins the first time you allow your partner to treat you badly.
Has a romantic partner ever treated you badly on a consistent basis? How long did this pattern continue? Is it still continuing?
When pursuing their dreams and coming up against a roadblock or rejection, many women give up. But “no” doesn’t have to be the end of your dream. You can either listen to the “no” or refuse to believe it. No is only an answer if you accept it. When you refuse to believe the “No,” you are not letting someone else manage your dreams; you’re saying you are in control of your dreams.
Being told no doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. It means you have to change course to make it to your destination.
If you shift your perception to the idea of life happening for you instead of life happening to you, you can stop accepting “no” as the final answer when you run up against a roadblock and instead start looking for new directions.
Perception is seeing things through the lens of what you feel and believe. Many of our perceptions are rooted in past experiences. If your past experience tells you nothing ever works out for you, you are less likely to keep fighting for your dream when you get a “no.” A shift in perception can turn around this bad pattern.
There are three main reasons people give up on their biggest dreams:
Don’t give up when you hit a roadblock.
Think of a time you were told “no” on your way to a goal. Did you give up on that goal? If so, think of an alternative route toward that goal. What’s another direction you can pursue?
Many women feel insecure about their sexuality, going through the motions to please their partners but not fully enjoying the experience. This problem gets worse as they have children, their bodies change, and life gets busier. But it is possible to work through your insecurities and fears and create a great sex life for yourself and your partner.
The author also experienced insecurity about her sexuality. She stopped enjoying sex as her relationship left the honeymoon phase; their sex life petered out and got worse after having babies. She went through the motions, but was less and less comfortable, not enjoying the experience. She began to resent the feeling of obligation.
She didn’t want to hurt her husband’s feelings, but when they finally did talk, she was shocked to hear that he no longer enjoyed intimacy because he could tell that she was stiff, uncomfortable, tired and unenthusiastic.
Many roadblocks can get in the way of a healthy sex life.
The author found herself going through the motions with sex, pretending but not truly enjoying the experience. Have you ever experienced a lack of interest in sex with your partner? What do you think is getting in the way?
When women become new mothers, it can be overwhelming. Caring for a newborn is exhausting; you’re navigating a world where your body has morphed and nursing is relentless.
It’s easy to feel bad about yourself because trying to keep up a perfect home, look great, keep your marriage together and be a perfect mother is daunting.
When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mom caring for an infant -- something women think they should innately know how to do -- it’s easy to feel like a failure.
The author shares her experience as a new mother to help other women understand they’re not alone, and to offer advice on succeeding at new motherhood.
Hollis suffered through awful pregnancies, including morning sickness that lasted for 9 months, varicose veins, and terrible anxiety over what could go wrong. When she had the baby, she was unprepared for how inadequate she felt. Her terror over what could go wrong was magnified. Breastfeeding was hard and the accompanying exhaustion was soul-sucking.
Once you get past the baby stage and you’re a seasoned mother, there’s more bad news: You can struggle as a mom in general. Being a mom, especially during the school-age years, is demanding. You’re faced with a slew of paperwork, events, and demands on your time, and no matter how much you give, other moms seem to be giving more and doing better.
It’s easy to feel like you’re falling short, missing out, and not doing as good a job as other moms. But comparing yourself to other moms and families is a recipe for feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Hollis experienced these negative feelings because, as a working mom whose life is a juggling act, she wasn’t as present at school activities as other moms. She tried to make up for it by volunteering as much as she could, but still felt she wasn’t doing enough.
She came to the realization that to be a successful mom, she didn’t have to be like any other mom; loving her children and doing the best she can is all she or any other mother can do.
In fact, what made her “different” in the eyes of her kids will make her cool and unique later. She decided that she and her family were doing “pretty good,” and pretty good is better than...
You have to take care of yourself to be the best mom you can be. (If you're a new mom and you’re reading this summary and doing exercises to get the most out of the experience, you are an amazing human being who is making herself a priority and becoming the best mom you can be. As the author said, you’re already the best kind of parent!)
Do you ever feel like a failure as a mother? Make a list of all the things going right for your family and all the ways they are doing well.
Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished.
Some even dread birthdays because they serve as a reminder of things they haven’t checked off their to-do lists -- and time is growing short.
Women may feel they’ve fallen short on career, financial and personal goals. They’re not a partner in the firm by 40, married with kids by a certain age, or haven’t lost the baby weight. This can feel like you’ve broken promises to yourself, and with every passing day and week you can feel farther and farther behind.
Hollis also fell victim to this line of thinking, and through her experiences urges other women to stop focusing on what they don’t have, give themselves credit for what they have accomplished, be open to new dreams, and have faith that things are turning out just as they are meant to be.
Negative self-talk about what we have and haven’t achieved is damaging. Imagine a baby taking her first steps, but her parents demand that she start running. Ridiculous, right? Yet we set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves all the time, criticizing ourselves for what we’re not doing without...
Things may not go according to plan, but they can work out as they were meant to.
Do you beat yourself up about something you haven’t yet achieved -- a goal you thought you would have reached by now? What is it?
Many women are struggling to keep up with the demands of parenthood, home life and work. They feel like they never get a moment’s peace. Other people’s lives look calmer and more organized; this can lead to a sense that you’re failing.
In truth, we all are living in a state of chaos, no matter how things appear, and we handle it in one of three ways:
Life is messy; cut yourself some slack.
Think of a time you used an ineffective strategy to combat chaos -- ignore, battle, or drown. Which did you turn to, and what was the result?
Many women consciously or unconsciously make themselves smaller to make others feel more comfortable. Becoming smaller means they downplay accomplishments and goals to be better liked and accepted. They mute themselves for fear of being criticized by others.
For example, the author met very accomplished entrepreneurial women who called their businesses a “hobby” to keep expectations low or because they were afraid of being judged.
Some women hesitate to try something new because they fear failure. They stay silent when they have so much to contribute. They hesitate to admit their dreams out loud out of fear of being judged or mocked.
Part of the problem is that when other people don’t understand us, they’re not fully supportive. Working women fight their way through a patriarchal system of men who don’t understand ambitious women. Working moms get backlash from stay-at-home moms and others because they don’t understand a woman’s desire to work. To gain the support of others, we try to be what they want, often hiding parts of our personalities and who we truly are.
Hollis also spent years making herself smaller to fit into the expectations of others. Her father wasn’t...
You can’t be big and small at the same time.
Women sometimes downplay their careers to avoid being boastful and not make others uncomfortable. Have you ever made yourself small in order to make someone else feel more comfortable? What did you say or do to minimize yourself in the eyes of others?
Fantasy and imagination can be instrumental in helping women achieve their goals, as the author learned from her own experiences. When she first moved to LA, her admittedly ridiculous goal was meeting and marrying the actor Matt Damon. Though this was an unlikely scenario, her belief got her to Los Angeles and led her to landing a great job, which led to her event planning career and her future husband.
With no clear direction, she just made one up. Once she had a direction, she was able to get moving and make progress in her life. When she gave up on marrying Matt Damon, she began obsessing about an expensive Louis Vuitton handbag. She imagined it in great detail and vowed to buy it after her first $10,000 check. Through years of hard work and progress in her career, she kept her eyes on the prize -- and achieved it. Her purse represented more than just a purse; it was the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work, career progress and success.
The author attributes her ability to imagine her dreams in intricate detail as a big factor in achieving those dreams. Big goals, such as “career success,” can feel overwhelming, vague and challenging,...
Can you daydream your way to success?
Big goals can feel overwhelming, but broken down into chunks, they seem more manageable. The author focused on being able to buy the purse of her dreams. Think about a big goal you have. What is a smaller, more tangible chunk you can focus on?
Sometimes women tend to hold other people’s opinions ahead of their own, especially when it comes to something they are creating. It could be writing a book, building a company, creating art, or even their fashion sense.
You want your work -- what you’ve created -- to be recognized when it’s sent out into the world, but there’s no guarantee it will be liked, appreciated or even understood. It’s hard to find the courage to complete something because fear of criticism can be overwhelming.
While you can’t make people like or understand what you’ve created, you still have to put it out there because your ability to create is a God-given gift.
As a writer who receives good and bad reviews, Hollis has to fight the tendency to...
Create for the sake of creating.
The author faces potential criticism when she releases her work. She releases it anyway. Think of a time you held back from releasing something you created out of fear of criticism. What was it? What specific type of criticism did you want to avoid?
Many people have been through something traumatic -- whether big, small, childhood or adult, they all are members of a club they never asked to join. People who have been through trauma find comfort and solidarity in knowing they aren’t alone and hearing others’ stories.
An important element of surviving trauma is looking for whatever good came out of it. Though difficult, looking for the good in a bad situation means the experience wasn’t wasted.
When you make it through a trauma, you take back your power and know you can rely on your own strength. The path through hardship is difficult, but the only way to get to the other side is to fight through, even when you feel like you’re drowning.
Living, and even thriving, after experiencing something awful is possible. To illustrate this, the author shares what she went through when her older brother committed suicide.
She was very close to her brother Ryan until she was about 12; then Ryan fell victim to...
Sometimes sharing the whole truth about a painful experience can be difficult. You feel as though hiding the truth will somehow make it less painful. But in reality, when we hide things, we give more power to fear and negativity.
Instead, sharing your story shows your strength and courage as well as empowers others, helping them through a similar difficult experience. When you are able to share you own painful truth, you show others that you are someone who keeps showing up and trying, with courage and honesty, even when things get difficult.
Hollis tells the story of her family’s adoption journey because, though it was incredibly difficult and painful, she hopes to empower and inform other potential adoptive families.
While pregnant with her third son, she and her husband decided they wanted to adopt a little girl someday. They decided on international adoption in Ethiopia because they were moved to help the orphan crisis in that country in a small way. After two years of paperwork, blood tests, interviews and all the red tape required by international adoption, they were informed that Ethiopia was “pausing” its adoption program....
Sharing what you’ve been through can help others and bring you greater insight.
Think of a difficult experience you went through. What is something positive you can pull from the lessons you learned?
Many women have a difficult relationship with food, their weight, and body image. Often women turn to food as a coping mechanism, abusing their bodies to help deal with trauma or difficult issues from their past.
After weight gain, it is common to turn to diets and diet aids, which don’t work and often leave you heavier than before, creating a yo-yo situation that is unhealthy and leads to feeling bad about yourself -- which in turn can lead to more comfort eating.
Hollis has also dealt with weight issues, identifying at an early age that thin women equaled beautiful women -- they were the ones who would find love, she thought. She had body image issues as a child, but they took a dramatic turn for the worse after an experience with her father trying to teach her how to drive a stick shift turned ugly, as he screamed at her for not handling the car properly.
After this incident, her food issues, including binge eating, escalated. A bout with mono brought her a skinny body she thought would change her life, but after eating solid food again she gained it all back. She turned to diet pills and suffered from paranoia as a side effect. Later, pregnancy and weight gain affected...
Many women use alcohol as a coping mechanism for the big and small challenges of life. Drinking is an easy fix -- just a few sips can dull the edges of anxiety and frustration.
Many women struggle with how much they drink, fearing that it’s turning into a real problem as they gain weight, spend more money, and feel less in control. But women struggling with alcohol are not alone; it’s a common challenge that can be worked through.
Through teenage years and young adulthood, alcohol wasn’t on Hollis’s radar. Then she had kids. Parenthood can lead to being exhausted, overwhelmed and on edge, and alcohol smooths these feelings. In the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy, played by Burl Ives, talks about a “click” that happens when he drinks enough. She grew to relate to this click -- it’s the moment when the wine kicked in and she felt herself relax.
Her wine consumption steadily grew from a glass a night to a heavy 7-day-a-week habit. She would wake up hungover, but blame hormones or exhaustion. She began pounding cocktails at social gatherings to relax -- alcohol gave her the courage to parent, have conversations with strangers,...
Fighting through hard times is how you get tougher.
Do you have an unhealthy crutch you turn to when life gets tough? What is it? How does this crutch hurt you?
Sometimes we stay safely inside the lines that have been drawn for us by our childhoods and families. We surround ourselves with people who look, think, and act like we do. But when everything looks like us, we can develop an unconscious bias, seeing the world as “us” and the “others.”
When we stay strictly in our own lane, we miss out on the richness and beauty of a diverse world with amazing people of all races, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and any other category. We miss out on the chance for understanding and respect, richer relationships, and the chance to grow as a person.
Hollis understands what it’s like to grow up firmly believing there is just one way to be. Her small town in California, Weedpatch, was white, low income, conservative and Christian, full of people deeply entrenched in their religion and cultural traditions. She didn’t think that being “other was wrong,” she simply didn’t know that “other” existed. A junior high trip to Disneyland opened her eyes. She saw every ethnicity, a gay couple, and individual styles and could only stare and try to take it all in.
One way may...
Women can fall into the trap of waiting for someone else to fix their lives, or they simply exist, assuming that life will magically improve on its own. We look outside ourselves and see something else as the solution -- if only we had the right job, man, house, or car, then life would be what we’ve dreamed of. But women can leave this trap behind and take responsibility for their own success.
The author’s own journey to becoming a runner is an example. Never athletic as a child, she first challenged herself to run a half-marathon, despite hating running, after her husband ran one when she was pregnant. She did this for a few reasons. She was jealous of his energy and health, and wanted that for herself. She wanted to prove to herself she could do it, and prove to her kids that dads and...
Take responsibility for your own success.
Think of a time you looked outside yourself for a solution to your problem. Looking back, what actions could you have taken yourself to make your life better?