Gwyneth’s World Domination
And when Gwyneth saw the breadth of her domain, she wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.
“It’s tough for some people to accept Gwyneth Paltrow’s transformation from movie star to domestic goddess,” observes Lizzie Widdicombe in this week’s New Yorker, writing about the star-studded dinner party Paltrow hosted at her home―a launch party for her beautiful, long-awaited, best-selling-before-it-even-came-out new cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. It must just be “cognitive dissonance,” the writer decides, that keeps folks from seeing the gloriously thin, perennially chic Academy-Award winning actress as the brilliant host and chef and homebody and emerging lifestyle guru that she clearly is.
Eh… well, maybe one woman’s cognitive dissonance is another woman’s exhaustion with all the willowy blond perfectly perfect perfection that is suddenly everywhere, all the livelong day.
It’s a lonely stance to take: None of my friends are as exhausted by Gwyneth the Brand as I’ve become, and nobody rolls their eyes quite as high as I at the rumored Gwyneth-helmed lifestyle magazine. And to some extent I even get it. She seems nice, and―as the New York Post gushed this week―she’s “got hip and cool down.”
Also, I liked Emma a whole lot. And I even sometimes read GOOP (her lifestyle newsletter, in case you haven’t yet stumbled upon that gospel of Gwyneth) for fun and entertainment. But it comes down to this: Buying into the whole “here’s how to eat/drink/dress/live/love/travel like me” thing coming from someone who’s “me” is a descendant of Hollywood royalty, who has hair of spun gold, who is married to a rock star, who promotes 21-day detox cleanses, who sometimes uses British slang, who once dated Brad Pitt, and who talks about “nourishing the inner aspect,” well― I’m just pretty sure that my life will not ever remotely resemble Gwyneth’s. But the implication that I should really want it to is hanging in the air these days like the smell of freshly baked gluten-free, vegan, carob-chip peanut butter cookies (sprinkled with this great cinnamon she found on a side street in Le Marais). So while the idea of Gwynnie as the next preeminent lifestyle guru has seemingly sent the masses into squeals of delight and cargo-pant-buying sprees, it just sort of makes me tired. I mean, if you thought Oprah’s Favorite Things were a tad inaccessible …
My Gwyneth-fan friends (read: everyone) shrug off my feelings about over-saturating the Paltrow market with accusations of jealousy. Which isn’t entirely off. But aren’t we supposed to be jealous? That’s what so-called lifestyle gurus sell, after all: a lifestyle you don’t have. I’ve always dreamed about Ina Garten’s peaceful, food-filled house in the Hamptons—but just imagine throwing a party so fab that the New Yorker doesn’t just write about it, it quotes everyone from Christy Turlington to Mario Batali (who wrote the cookbook’s foreword) to Jessica Seinfeld on your culinary prowess and all-around amazingness. Martha Stewart herself, who was, naturally, in attendance, tweeted (echoing sentiments from the New York Times):
“Is Gwyneth the next Martha?”
Oh, Martha. The only time anyone worked up this much of a lather over you was when you went to prison.
After all, did you win an Academy Award? Did you launch and author a chirpy newsletter that covers everything from vegan mayonnaise to D.I.Y. reflexology? Did Vogue once endorse your sense of style, your cooking, your British manor, your flat stomach and your mothering skills all in the same article? Did you release a cookbook filled with delicious recipes the same month you were on the cover of Shape magazine? Are you allegedly signing a record deal right now, showcasing a new(ish) talent for singing and guitar-playing (which, of course, merits a Grammy performance, not to mention a cameo on, like, the most popular Glee episode, ever)?
Gwyneth isn’t a blonder, thinner, taller, more beautiful, more British, more Oscar-Award-Winning version of you, Martha: Gwyneth is the blonder, thinner, taller, more beautiful, more British, more Oscar-Award-Winning version of Alexander the Great. Only her armies include Jay-Z and the scads of women who want to be like her (duh, everyone) and her weapons are quinoa and Tracy Anderson, that Pilates chick.
But maybe that Widdicombe’s New Yorker headline―“Gwyneth’s World”―felt less flip to me than it did prophetic just means I should simply stop fighting the Paltrow fever and start nourishing my inner aspect by investing now in the carob-chip and cargo-pant market.