In Defense of Gwyneth

(c) Hillary Weeks

I canNOT believe that is the title of this post!! (And like the Princess of Privilege needs defending from me!)

On Monday an e-mail from Goop popped into my mailbox that said "A note from GP". This was out-of-the ordinary, as they usually show up every Thursday. I tried following the link on my phone, but an error message popped up. Since I wasn't really that interested I just let it go.

Whilst getting chummy with Insomnia again last night, I scrolled through my Twitter feed and clicked on this piece from Slate about Gwyneth Paltrow's divorce - er - conscious uncoupling - from Chris Martin. The news I missed on Monday.

Even though the overall tone of Jessica Grose's piece (whom I'm in agreement with 99% of the time!) was sarcastic, and some of what she highlighted from the newsletter struck a cord with me and I had to read it myself. So I scurried downstairs to read the "Note from GP"..

The announcement was twofold: Her statement (my condensed version follows): They've decided to consciously uncouple; they're sad about it, want to grow; will always love each other; their precious cherubs come first; they've always conducted their relationship privately and hope to continue to move forward in the same manner. This was followed by an essay about conscious uncoupling by Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami, doctors who integrate Eastern and Western medicine. The essay observes that since human life-expectancy has grown so much, the idea of "Until Death do Us Part" has become an unrealistic (but not impossible) standard. Because your marriage ends, that doesn't mean it wasn't a successful relationship - it's just run its course. I can get on board with that! There is some new-agey psychobabble about nurturing feminine energy, and comparing insect exoskeletons, which make them inflexible and unable to adapt, to a human encasing themselves in an exoskeleton of anger, making them unable to adapt, that was pretty out there. But I found more to agree with in the essay than to ridicule. 

Jessica begins her Slate piece by saying, "Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20's she has made women feel bad about themselves." I've never had any love for the GP, the universe knows, but I really think the women who feel bad about themselves because Gwyneth Paltrow walks the earth in "sun-dappled glory" really have deeper issues they need to address.

She believes Gwyneth is keeping up appearances as "wives and mothers have long been expected to." And even though she admits it's a positive thing that she doesn't bash her ex-husband publicly, Jessica seems perturbed that instead of pouring out every last bit of heartache or vitriol she's been feeling about her situation, Gwyneth simply states, "It's with hearts full of sadness that we've decided to separate."

Jessica has the impression that Gwyneth "presents herself as an ideal to strive for." I've never gotten that impression myself. My problem with Gwyneth, I'm not too small to admit, has always been rooted in the sliver spoon. Is she out of touch with most of us, and oblivious to the fact that we can't relate to her viewpoint? Definitely. Is she maliciously putting her life on display to make others feel worse about themselves? No. She just does what she does, and shares it with people. Now she's going through a "conscious uncoupling" and sharing her philosophy about her marriage's dissolution.

In the closing of her piece Jessica asks, "But as aspirational idols go, can't we do better?" I ask, why make someone feel bad about aspiring to be like Gwyneth Paltrow?


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