This article titled “Gwyneth Paltrow has been at the forefront of pop culture for 20 years – I will miss her at Goop” was written by Jess Cartner-Morley, for The Guardian on Tuesday 2nd August 2016 16.47 UTC
I am sad that Gwyneth Paltrow is consciously uncoupling herself from her Goop lifestyle blog. There, I said it. This is an unfashionable opinion. I get the feeling that most people will happily live without Gwyneth’s wisdom, highlights of which have included where to get your vagina mugwort-steamed, and how artisan rosewood truffle slicers and $125,000 (£94,000) gold dumbbells make great gifts.
But I believe that the time will come when we look back on the era when Gwyneth ruled over the celebrity lifestyle “space”, as we must now call it, as an innocent and benign age. Gwyneth’s persona – think Cher from Clueless meets Marie Antoinette, self-righteously hangry on day three of a bespoke juice cleanse – has not always been easy to love. Tips on the Goop website right now include the handy hint that if you are entertaining and don’t have time to iron your table linen, you could consider taking it to the dry cleaner to be pressed. The online store offers a $60 jar of Sex Dust, a “warming elixir” whose slightly vague “ancient ingredients” will promote “primordial energy and vital essence” just by adding a teaspoon to your nightly cup of nut milk. (Just a thought, hon, but if “sexual vigor” is the goal, maybe the nightly cup of nut milk isn’t helping?) And the whole check-your-privilege concept seems to have passed by Gwyneth, who has a tendency to say things such as: “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese out of a tin.”
Gwyneth, with her good-girl shiny hair (no bedhead tangles for her), has the vibe of being the form prefect of the avocado toast generation. As a result, she seldom get the credit she deserves as someone who has, for better or worse, been at the forefront of pop culture for the past two decades. She was going out with Brad Pitt when he was just a good-looking young actor. In 1999, she was advocating how Brazilian bikini-waxing had “changed her life”, before anyone else knew what it was; by 2013, she was in the vanguard of the backlash against waxing, quipping about how she “works a 70s vibe”. Gwyneth was singing the praises of kale in 2009, a full five years before Beyoncé in the “KALE” sweatshirt. She did sideboob at the Met Gala in 2012; Kendall Jenner did sideboob at the Met Gala in 2015.
And while the world was laughing at Goop, the celebrity economy was quietly emulating it. Blake Lively’s Preserve was launched in 2014, and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James in 2015. Both were clear attempts to landgrab Goop territory: filtered still-life shots of flowers in mason jars, an online store where the adjective “artisanal” appeared to justify adding two zeroes to a sensible price for anything, and contant overuse of “super” as a sunny, effervescent adjunct. (In the Goop world, one is endlessly super-excited about super-delicious salads that you can make super-quick.) Kate Hudson’s Fabletics sportswear brand, whose home page features a smiley, Instagrammy photo of Hudson lying in the grass, channels the Goop glossy-homey vibe; Zooey Deschanel’s Hello Giggles borrows its goofy tone. But none of these, so far, can touch Goop for reach: while Preserve folded after just a year, Gwyneth’s business is still growing, with own-brand skincare launched this year, and planned “scalability” cited as the reasoning behind Gwyneth’s retreat from its masthead.
Gwyneth’s more away-with-the-fairies bon mots – my personal favourites being, “When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat,” and the time she advertised for a nanny who was an accomplished sailor and spoke Latin (I paraphrase, but only just) – have eclipsed the fact that she often, in fact, talks a lot of sense. Take the Met Gala. The Met Gala looks like a terrifying sorority party where your dress will never ever be good enough for Anna Wintour, and Rihanna’s bodyguard will tread on your new shoes and break your toes, but everyone pretends like it is super-fun. Except Gwyneth, who in 2013 told a radio interviewer that “it sucked … I’m never going again. It was so unfun. It was boiling. It was too crowded. I did not enjoy it at all.” And for all the detox backlash, compared with the new crop of spiralising bores, Gwyneth’s health regime is pretty human: she drinks wine, and cocktails, smokes one cigarette on a Saturday night. And yes, conscious uncoupling is a grating phrase, but is the idea of making a concerted effort to have a grown-up, non-antagonistic divorce really such a terrible one?
What do we have to look forward to, now that Gwyneth has ceded her spot in the limelight to a new generation of thought leaders? The celebrity economy abhors a vacuum, after all. Kim Kardashian has begun putting her Sunday-night chicken dinners on Snapchat, suggesting a cookbook cannot be far behind. Meanwhile, her rival Taylor Swift – who recently won control over comments on her Instagram posts, the ultimate 21st-century privilege – loves to bake cookies, and to entertain her photogenic friends. We eye-rolled at Goop, but the young celebrity generation stars are not exactly above crazy talk – remember the time Kylie Jenner (69.8m Instagram followers) turned conspiracy theorist over the white trails left by aeroplanes? Or when Jaden Smith (5.77m followers on Twitter) wore a white Batman suit to the Kimye wedding to “heighten my experience”? Our new lifestyle overlords may one day make all of us nostalgic for Goop’s overprivileged but vaguely well-meaning eccentricity. Until then, though, I guess I’m on my own.
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