“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.