Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Community News Network

March 26, 2014

Even in separation, Gwyneth Paltrow makes women feel bad about themselves

NEW YORK — Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20s, she has made women feel bad about themselves. As Gwyneth's former high school classmate told a New York magazine reporter in the mid-'90s, "Even people who don't know Gwyneth measure themselves against her success. … Gwyneth makes us feel extremely lame." And so it was this week, when Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin, announced their split in the most Gwyneth way possible by telling the world about their separation in her lifestyle newsletter Goop, with a personal note and an accompanying expert essay about something called "conscious uncoupling." Because Gwyneth does not break up like the rest of us.

The gist of the essay — by Habib Sadeghi and Sherry Sami, doctors who integrate Eastern and Western medicine — is that the institution of marriage hasn't evolved along with our longer life spans. Divorce doesn't mean your relationship wasn't successful, they say. It just means that this particular relationship has come to its conclusion; you may have two or three of these successful relationships in a lifetime. Instead of a typical, rancorous, regular-person separation, you just need to have a "conscious uncoupling." You need to be spiritually "present" and recognize that partners in intimate relationships are our "teachers." You need to "cultivate" your "feminine energy" to salve any wounds.

Underneath that psychobabble is the message that goes along with all Goop productions: Even Gwyneth's separation is better than yours. The announcement of the split is accompanied by a gorgeous photograph of the supremely actualized couple lounging in the grass. After the news broke, a friend of mine texted, "Honestly it made me want to get divorced! And I am not even married."

New-agey as it all sounds, Gwyneth's sun-dappled breakup announcement is just the same tired keeping up appearances that wives and mothers have long been expected to do. Certainly for the sake of their children, it makes sense for Paltrow to refrain from bashing her husband in public. But there is no admission of pain (besides a nod to "hearts full of sadness") or any other emotion that might be messy, inconvenient or real.

I was thinking about Gwyneth when I read an article in Bethesda Magazine about another "super mom," a woman named Melissa "Missy" Lesmes. She's a partner in a big-name Washington law firm, a "party maven," and mom of four children ages 11 to 18, one of whom has Down syndrome. She's pretty, blond and fit. She wakes up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and doesn't go to sleep until midnight or later. She wears makeup when she's working out.

Just as Gwyneth presents herself as an ideal to strive for, Lesmes is also offered as something of a model woman. Their stories are meant to make mere mortals feel inadequate, but I finally had the opposite reaction reading about Paltrow and Lesmes in the span of an afternoon. Both of their lives sound like a nightmare to me. Paltrow's because she has to behave outwardly as if everything is glossy and perfect all the time lest she ruin her "brand." Lesmes because she doesn't get any sleep, and because while she buzzes around being übermom, her husband "lounges on the couch at the end of the great room, watching the day's tennis matches at Wimbledon on a huge, flat-screen TV."

Granted, these are all just images of people whose internal selves and real-life relationships we don't really know anything about. But as aspirational idols go, can't we do better? It's time to evolve past the 2014 versions of Betty Draper that continue to clog up our media space.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web_starbucks-cof_big_ce.jpg Starbucks sees more Apple-like stores after Colombia debut

    This week Starbucks opened its first location in Colombia — a 2,700-square-foot store with a heated patio, concrete columns, mirrors on the ceiling and walls of colorful plants.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll