Gwyneth Paltrow is an Oscar-winning actress, mother and founder of lifestyle company Goop. After more than a decade of raising eyebrows and controversy, the company and its star founder are also behind a Netflix documentary series whose second season focuses on Goop, sex and love. Making headlines for her professional and personal life, she has the unique position of inspiring admiration and scorn almost equally. In 2013, she was named “Most Hated Celebrity” but also crowned as People’s “Most Beautiful Person.”
Here, we look at three reasons why Paltrow deserves to be admired and three reasons why she shouldn’t be idolized.
3 reasons why Gwyneth Paltrow should be admired
She isn’t afraid to try new things
After Paltrow won an Oscar in 1999, she was at the top of her game and could’ve scored any movie role she wanted. However, she didn’t rest on her laurels. Instead, she forged new paths: Some of them have been more professional, like country singing, producing cookbooks, and starting her own business, which is worth $250 million, while others have been more personal, like volunteering to fundraise for non-profits, promoting macrobiotic diets and detoxes, and speaking out against sexual harrassment in general and against internet trolls at tech conferences. Despite getting mocked for some of her choices, she keeps getting involved in new things. In 2017, she became an advisor for Bitcoin start-up Abra and today is an executive producer for her Goop lab documentary series on Netflix. Expanding one’s horizons, as she constantly does, is something a lot of us tell ourselves and our children to do.
She stayed dignified and resilient in the face of hardship
In 2014, Paltrow divorced her husband, Chris Martin, after over 10 years of marriage. Unlike many high-profile celebrity splits, Paltrow and Martin were determined to keep their divorce amicable. She may have gotten a lot of flak for using the term “conscious uncoupling” to describe their divorce, but the fact that she and Martin have succeeded in peacefully co-parenting their two children after their divorce is something to admire. As is her ability to redefine today’s modern family, by keeping things friendly between her ex husband and her current husband.
Paltrow also showed the resilience by being one of the first actresses to come forward about having been sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein. In so doing, she helped start a global conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace.
She bucked Hollywood’s pressure to never grow old
Now almost 50, Paltrow is at the age where Hollywood usually forces female actresses to slow down and even fade away. But she hasn’t given in to the ageist and sexist pressure of the entertainment and business world. Instead, she has become even more visible by taking on more diverse roles involving singing and dancing, such as a recurring role in the TV show Glee, a star turn in the blockbuster franchise Iron Man, and a central role in the TV show The Politician. People looking for feminist actresses to buck Hollywood’s pressure to never grow old should look up to Paltrow for blazing a path. What’s more, she has also public spoken against gender pay inequality in Hollywood, further showing she’s one to stand up to Hollywood’s pressures.
3 reasons why Gwyneth Paltrow shouldn’t be idolized
Her lifestyle company is unrealistic and out of touch
When Goop launched in 2008, it was immediately attacked for its meaningless name. Ever since, it has been ripped apart even more for being pretentious and offering what many perceive as unrealistic health, parenting and lifestyle products and advice. Goop’s products are considered too expensive and lavish even for the average well-off reader. When was the last time someone needed a $20K vibrator?
No one minds that Paltrow is capitalizing on her fame. After all, Jessica Alba and Reese Witherspoon, among other celebrities, also have brands that sell a wide range of lifestyle products. However, the latter seem to know their target markets. Maybe if Paltrow wouldn’t claim that fashion is too expensive while trying to peddle a $1200 coat, her company wouldn’t seem so out of touch.
She promotes health fads that can be dangerous
Over the years, Paltrow has embraced a lot of quirky health fads and recommendations. She was heavily in favor of a macrobiotic diet, came out loudly as a raw foodist, and took a very long time to accept eating chicken. Likewise, Goop has marketed pseudo-scientific products and services like jade eggs, vaginal steaming and stickers that supposedly rebalance your energies. Some of the health trends that Paltrow has promoted are not backed by science and have turned out to be potentially damaging. The size of Paltrow’s following turns her endorsement of possibly harmful products into something potentially dangerous.
She can come off as patronizing
We’re all aware that celebrities are richer than ordinary people and that they live more luxurious lives. But it does rub salt into the wound when one of them tries to be relatable to the masses. For instance, Paltrow’s past claim that “I’m incredibly close to the common woman,” comes off as condescending. After all, most common women don’t come from a privileged upbringing whose family has tens of millions of dollars of wealth. Additionally, Paltrow’s participation in the 2015 SNAP challenge against food hunger could have been inspiring, but instead she was patronizing when she bought six limes with her allotted $29-a-week budget. By doing so, Paltrow showed that she had very little in common with the common woman at all. It would be less irritating if Paltrow stopped trying to pretend that she’s like every other woman and just admitted her privileged lifestyle.
The Bottom Line: Given her professional and personal successes as well as her penchant for making people roll their eyes, do you think Gwyneth Paltrow deserves admiration or scorn?