Rachel Hollis, a former mommy blogger and influencer who has transformed into a popular motivational speaker and best-selling author, is being accused of plagiarizing some of her Instagram posts.
Her first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller after it was published in February 2018 — and has drawn its share of criticism. Her second, Girl, Stop Apologizing, will be released on March 12.
She also hosts a podcast and created an event named "RISE" — "where women from every walk of life can come together to be inspired, supported and enveloped in a community." Hollis wrote on her Instagram that a RISE weekend this summer in Dallas sold out in two and a half hours.
But recently, commenters on her Instagram have made disturbing allegations that the quotes that Hollis posts on her Instagram page — which she either attributes to herself or leaves vague — are plagiarized.
"Rachel you know you did not originally say this," one commenter wrote. "Girl, tell the truth."
People said that if Hollis is frequently posting the words of others, she needs to say that clearly.
"I'm cool with beautiful quotes on IG, but there have been some social media comments out there that you aren't attributing your quotes, and it's very important as a writer that we correctly quote these things so it doesn't look like we are passing them off as our own," said another reader.
BuzzFeed News took a look at six recent Instagram posts from Hollis, and tried to track the origins of the quotes she shared.
Hollis's team didn't provide an on-the-record comment to BuzzFeed News. After BuzzFeed News reached out about the claims, some of the posts we flagged were deleted from Hollis's account.
Here's what we found:
1. "Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please...don't write the same one 75 times and call that a life."
Hollis posted this quote on her Instagram feed last week.
However, many commenters pointed out that the quote sounds very similar to one commonly said by Robin Sharma, a best-selling author and leadership expert
Sharma has been posting this sentiment, minus the first part, on his social media accounts since at least 2014.
"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life," he tweeted.
2. "Ambition is not a dirty word."
Hollis posted this quote with a teaser for her upcoming second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing.
"Ambition is not a bad thing. In fact, the definition is downright poetic: 'a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.' - An excerpt from Girl, Stop Apologizing coming at you on March 12th!" she wrote in the Instagram caption.
It's unclear if the quote in the image that's attributed to her, "ambition is not a dirty word," is also from her next book. But Hollis certainly didn't write it, as it's already a book title.
Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word is a a 2008 self-help book by Debra Condren.
But the quote also recently went viral when Reese Witherspoon said it in her 2015 Glamour Women of the Year speech.
"I believe ambition is not a dirty word, it's just believing in yourself," Witherspoon said.
3. "Don't you dare compare your beginning with someone else's middle."
Hollis's husband, Dave, posted this quote on his Instagram page in November and attributed it to his wife.
This quote has been attributed to many other people online. One of them is Tim Hiller, who wrote the phrase in his book Strive: Life Is Short, Pursue What Matters.
It also has been attributed to another motivational speaker, Jon Acuff. He posted art with the phrase on Instagram in 2016, writing, "It's always fun when someone takes something you said and turns it into art."
Acuff has also written this sentiment in blog posts.
4. "When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don't really want something, you'll find an excuse."
Hollis attributed this quote to herself on Instagram in October. However, this idea, in various forms, has been attributed to many others before her.
The most popular version is credited to Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur who later built a career doing motivational speaking. He died in 2009.
According to his official website, Rohn said: "If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."
This quote does appear in Hollis's book, in Chapter 2: "The Lie: I'll Start Tomorrow."
5. "Someone else's opinion of you is none of your business."
Hollis posted this fan-made quote card with a caption saying it was from Girl, Wash Your Face.
In the book, Hollis said she first heard this quote from her therapist, whom she calls Denise. She then writes about the idea at length.
Denise did not come up with this idea, though. The quote bears a striking similarity to the title of a 1979 self-help book by evangelist Terry Cole-Whittaker, which is called What You Think of Me Is None of My Business.
More recently, it was used by another kind of evangelist, RuPaul, on Twitter in 2011.
6. "Don't make yourself small so others feel more comfortable."
Hollis posted the above quote in December 2018, without her name on it, from what she called the "lettering challenge." These posts were fan art that Hollis claimed people made taking lines from Girl, Wash Your Face.
This quote is an idea that she talks about in Chapter 12 of her book: "The Lie: I Need to Make Myself Smaller."
"I am not the only woman who is making herself small to make others feel comfortable," she writes. BuzzFeed News couldn't find the exact phrase in her book as shown in this graphic.
A very similar quote about making oneself "smaller" has been popular on Tumblr for years. However, this isn't a new quote or idea. For example, another similar quote appears on page 43 of a 2006 book called The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Self.
This self-help guide for mothers is by Bria Simpson, a life coach based in North Carolina. The similar quote comes from a chapter called "The Mommy Wars."
"Don't shrink yourself to make others feel more comfortable," Simpson wrote. "Whatever path you choose, especially when it requires courage, expect that some people will respond negatively."
The quote also shares DNA with a quote from Marianne Williamson, from a famous line she wrote in her 1992 best-seller A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.
You probably recognize this stanza, which is often falsely attributed to Nelson Mandela:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ... There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you."
Williamson is now running for president in 2020.
Bonus: "Girl, Stop Apologizing."
When Hollis announced the title of her new book, some noticed it actually shared a similarity with another book title.
Maja Jovanovic, a professor in Canada, published a book called Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing in 2016.
The premise is also similar:
"My mission is to bring awareness to your bad habits, to push you out of your comfort zone and into action, and to motivate you to reach up, dream bigger, and aspire for leadership positions in all areas of your life," Jovanovic writes.
And as Hollis writes:
"With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself."