“Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20s, she has made women feel bad about themselves…” begins Jessica Grose’s article in Slate this week.
This makes me want to write something along the lines of how ever since Jessica Grose starting writing articles in Slate she’s made celebrities feel bad about themselves.
Except I don’t know Jessica Grose.
I don’t know anything about her.
In fact, while I may have read her articles on Slate before, I don’t remember any in particular.
It’s not a jab. It’s just to illustrate how little I know her.
Which is why I can’t imagine laying blame on her for feeling bad about myself.
What has Jessica Grose done to make me feel like an unattentive mother, unaffectionate wife, less-than-compelling blogger?
(Oops. Did I just overshare?)
It’s not that I don’t get the point — how the media, let’s say, perpetuates an unattainable image of women or mothers. But blaming the media is very different from pinpointing one particular celebrity, especially one who actually has made it a point to do GOOD in the world.
It’s mind boggling to me. I feel compelled to defend Gwyneth, except I don’t know her.
But what I do know is that Grose’s article didn’t inspire in me a feeling of comraderie.
It made me feel sad for Grose. And for women who truly ascribe their feelings of inadequacy to female celebrities.
The accusations against Gwyneth, in particular, continue throughout Grose’s entire piece, which was sparked by the recent announcement of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s split. Grose shames Gwyneth (not Martin, by the way, but Gwyneth) for how she chose to announce her separation. The language she chose to use. The means by which she communicated it.
As if getting a divorce and having to actually ANNOUNCE it wasn’t bad enough.
“Underneath that psychobabble,” Grose writes, taking issue with the phrasing “Conscious Uncoupling,” “is the message that goes along with all Goop productions: Even Gwyneth’s separation is better than yours…”
Is that what’s underneath the “psychobabble?” Really?
I didn’t get that at all. Perhaps if I was in the middle of a messy divorce, I’d be envious of couples who seem outwardly to be approaching separation maturely.
My response? I actually considered for a minute or two that Paltrow and Martin might be trailblazers. Better coverage of “conscious” uncoupling than the ugly divorces we normally expect from Hollywood.
Unless, of course, we want celebrities to feel heartbreak and pain because it makes us feel a little better about our own.
The truth is finally spoken out loud at the end of the article when Grose writes of Gwyneth and another celebrity mother, “Their stories are meant to make mere mortals feel inadequate.”
I may be susceptible to the “new-agey psychobabble” Grose mocks (I used to be on Goop’s mailing list), but I am under the impression that Gwyneth Paltrow is as mortal as the rest of us are. Maybe even moreso, since she is living her life on a worldwide stage.
Could be that I was won over by the restaurant scene in Notting Hill
but I operate on the assumption that even famous actresses feel shame, anxiety, humiliation, fear. I don’t see any reason to perpetuate the stereotype that they don’t.
My takeaway from Grose’s article is not an urge to join a rallying cry for honesty in media. It’s not a desire to band together as “normal moms” with limited budgets to spread rage about the injustice of personal trainers or nannies or vegan chefs.
I just feel sad.
For women who feel so disconnected from themselves that they have to look to others as perpetrators of their unhappiness.
Women who feel compelled to publicly shame other women, through blogs or through gossip.
And for this reason, I almost didn’t write this blog. I worried that by writing this post I was doing the exact same thing Grose was with her piece on Paltrow.
And then I remembered intention.
And how intention, God willing, often shines through, even when the language we are using may be misconstrued as branding, marketing, or public relations spin.
Gwyneth’s intention — even though I don’t know her personally — came through loud and clear to me in the quotes attributed to her yesterday.
She’s not looking to hurt or attack anyone. She’s not looking to rebrand marriage or divorce or motherhood.
She just thinks before she speaks.
Before she acts.
That’s what came through to me.
She thinks before she speaks.
And this is a brand I’m happy to be an early adopter of.
15 thoughts on “While we’re at it, let’s blame menopause and extramarital affairs on Gwyneth”
Great thoughts. I’m not a huge fan of Paltrow myself, but it is going a little far to say that the way she has conducted her (probably very painful) separation is a dig at others.
Jen, definitely agree. It’s actually quite easy to ignore Gwenyth (I only learned of her uncoupling yesterday…), and it’s also easy to not have her way-of-being invade your world to the point you feel bad about yourself -don’t read goop, and ignore celebrity magazines and TV, and you are all set. If I have feelings of inadequacy (momentarily of course…), they tend to come more from the writing: the blogs, the magazines, who sadly can’t wait to publish headlines and articles inciting this kind of us vs. them debate. They get more comments and readers this way. It’s a shame Slate ran Grose’s article. It’s shallow at best, like you said, we know nothing about her. Where are her feelings of inadequacies coming from that make her qualified to jump to these conclusions about others, and get us to hop on board w/her?…
You so nailed this. How we feel about ourselves is rarely about OTHER PEOPLE. It’s an inner issue, not an outer one. I loved this:
“I just feel sad.
For women who feel so disconnected from themselves that they have to look to others as perpetrators of their unhappiness.”
That’s it exactly.
Absolutely. I have not been following all the news lately, but in the end- celebrity or not, blaming and judging others for our own actions is never ok.
Amen, though it was “Sliding Doors” for me. You know this announcement must have been heart breaking for them, and it’s terrible for their kids. I don’t get such vicious reporting.
I loved Sliding Doors. Loved it. It totally won me over. (And was just talking about it with friends a week or so ago.l)
Jen – funnily enough I read this article before I read your blog post and thought the same thing. It says a lot more about the writer’s emotions than it does about Gwyneth Paltrow but there again doesn’t it always when someone starts using those tactics. Well said – I agree full heartedly with you
now that you mention it, I felt uncomfortable for the author for that reason. i think it’s a good thing to note for my own future writing too.
I guess we all learn from our own mistakes and others but I still think you write wonderfully and always get a buzz when I see your updates drop in my inbox 🙂
It’s another case of women attacking other women for being more successful than they are. I’m sad to hear anyone is splitting up, but if this approach is the best one for them and their children, more power to them.
Beautifully said, Jen – even though I don’t know you…..
Brilliant post, Jen! I totally agree with you: “It made me feel sad for Grose. And for women who truly ascribe their feelings of inadequacy to female celebrities.”
Your intention definitely shines through and is a great reminder!
you are so, so right.
I have always been miffed by the Gwyneth bashing that has been going on in the press for the last couple of years. Judging from the public persona (which is all we have to go on), she comes across as someone who strives to do the best she can and, in the face of all this misplaced hate, she has handled herself very graciously. You are so right: why do we, as women, have to take our cues from celebrities. And why supposedly smart women in the media have to perpetuate this myth? Does anybody really think GP set out to have a better divorce than anyone else?
Glad it’s not just me