It’s raining. I’ve woken up on the floor in a pile of National Geographic Magazines stollen from my landlord (because he is a dentist and, frankly, has a serious attitude problem). My Ruth Bader-Ginsburg wall-display has fallen into my half-empty wine basin and is ruined for good. The pigeons outside coo judgementally and I am sure that the dogs outside are laughing at me. I feel ready and encouraged to crawl out of my metaphorical ditch and tackle humanity’s most poignant question.
What is Gwyneth Paltrow? And why?
Firstly, I’m not convinced that she is even real. Governments fabricate things all the time. Think about Destiny’s Child-Michelle or pictures of Hilary Clinton in anything but a SERIOUS pants suit. Or even Sweden, for example. I mean, has anyone even been there? How can we be sure that we’re not confusing it with an outdoor IKEA? We may never know.
What strikes me about GP is the fact that she is super-humanly perfect. She’s like a very rigid Burberry mannequin that exists in shades of beige and white privilege. Others have achieved perfection (look at Beyoncé or Ryan Gosling’s jaw line), but on some level they make the effort to feign imperfection. At least they try.
Gwyneth, on the other hand, is often criticised for shoving her supremacy into our collective face. And to be honest, I can see how one could come to that opinion.
For starters, she is constantly making attempts to convince us that’s she’s just like you and me. In a recent interview with CNN’s Cristina Alesci, GP was asked if she “resembles anything remotely close to the common woman” and responded that she feels incredibly connected to the average female because, at the end of the day, she possesses a body and a beating heart just like everybody else.
I’m sorry, what.
So just because she has basic operative body parts, she is fully in touch with the lives and experiences of regular double x chromosome-having humans? Does that mean that I am like Zayne Malik because I have legs and semi-functional face muscles? If that’s the case, I am one good sex tape away from touching Niall Horan’s baby milk face, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon (though that doesn’t mean that I’ll ever stop trying).
Goop-y, just because you breathe air and sometimes blink your eyes doesn’t mean that you are connected to all feminine beings. You are not every woman, it’s not all in you (even Chaka would agree). You cannot claim to be one with the common woman when you are publicly disgusted by poultry consumption or domestic mustard-use.
In general, people like to shit on Gwyneth for promoting an inaccessible lifestyle to the general public based on her own privileged upbringing. Goop, GP’s very own lifestyle/wellness brand, often comes under fire for recommending things like annual 10-day juice cleanses and infrared-vaginal steaming. The recipes she posts, in particular, have received attention for requiring exorbitantly priced ingredients or adopting condescending tones (I stumbled across a tutorial on frying eggs and the instructions frequently mentioned that the reader must actually have, in fact, an egg).
If I’m being fair, however, much of the criticism that Gwyneth receives is unfounded. Whilst her website features some very expensive “must-have” items and experiences, there are also loads of tips that are meant to help readers achieve a sense of luxury and comfort cheaply. Like any entrepreneur, GP is using the information that she has stumbled across as one of Hollywood’s most elite celebrities to share resources with an audience that is unable to access the same kind of knowledge. Even in the “about Goop” section of the site she insists that she and her team want to use her brand as a space where diverse peoples can share their experiences. In fact, I would say the overall tone of her online magazine is very positive and encouraging.
To the average person, Gwyneth is like a mythical creature. It’s very easy to demonise a woman who hand-written letters from Madonna and secured her first kiss from Brad Pitt. But once you accept the fact that she’s fully ridiculous, she becomes very likeable. Embrace the fact that she is the living embodiment of pretence and privilege and you’ll find yourself sucked into her world. When I started my research on GP, I had already decided that I despised her for being so ignorant and disconnected. However, as I began to learn more about her, I came to understand that she’s no more outrageous than any other celebrity in Hollywood. Now, I find myself inhaling quinoa by the bag and saying thing like “what’s the point of using lightbulbs if they’re not artisanal?”— and to be honest with you, I fucking love it. Gwyneth Paltrow provides a sort of fantasy for us all and once we indulge ourselves in it, there’s no going back.