I have always loved Gwyneth Paltrow for how hard she seems to try. How earnest, scrubbed clean, classroom monitor she seems to be. She tried to break out of her good girl role, she tried being a bit whacky – her child is called Apple! She married a rock star! But not really a rock star, and an apple is a lovely, wholesome thing. When she played plaintive Margot in “The Royal Tenenbaums”, all oversized fur coat and kohl rimmed eyes, secretly smoking, you imagined her choking on the nasty cigarette after every scene. Aww, look at her trying to be naughty.
She has a Madonna (the rock star) like aspect, believing in things most fervently, persuading the population at large to believe too before moving on to something else. But whereas rock star Madonna plays with religions and haircuts, and appears to not care if the world wants to copy her, because her inspiration is to make her superhuman self more superhuman, Paltrow seems to be aiming towards a different Madonna-like aspect – the iconic mother.
She does want people to listen to her, she does know best. She’d like to explain to the world, helpfully and just a little bit bossily, that macrobiotics, or veganism, or now “clean” food, will make you healthy, good and, of course, beautiful. The diets she espouses are not (just) about weightloss; it’s not the celebrity “I lost 5,000 pounds and you can too!” idea, it’s about being a better person.
But in some ways her food regimes have failed her; a couple of years ago she was diagnosed with a severe vitamin D deficiency which caused bone thinning. This book that she now puts her name to seems to jump somewhat uncertainly on this fact – it tacitly acknowledges that her previous food choices were lacking; it claims this way of eating healed her – and it doesn’t claim she still eats that way. “The restorative diet she turns to whenever she feels she needs it.” Presumably because she fairly recently released another cookbook, “Notes From My Kitchen Table” which espouses a completely different, more “traditional” way of eating, and which is still very popular.
Food choices in the Western world are increasingly complex. Messages about how and what to eat clash and supercede each other constantly. By the time you’ve considered the health message alongside the moral implications of any foodstuff, it seems you can, you should, you must eliminate all things from your diet, and not only the thing itself but the very idea of the thing. For example – Milk. “Did you know that cow’s milk contains a certain amount of pus, allowable by law, in each drop?” (The health argument). “Did you know how cruel a practice dairy farming is, involving the slaughter of many newborn calves?” (The moral argument). “Goodness, I had no idea. I’ll switch to soya milk.” “Did you know that soya milk may contribute to breast cancer? Did you know it causes cellulite?” (The health argument). “Did you know that acres of rainforest are being burnt down to grow soya?” (The moral argument). “Good grief. Ok, I’m only drinking coconut milk from now on”. “Ah! Did you know….” “F*ck it. I’ll have a full fat latte please. And I don’t care if the beans are fairly traded!”
I can’t decide if Gwyneth should be thanked for helping us make better choices, criticised for her contradictions, or merely noted as a woman just doing the best she can. Or maybe a just celebrity selling a cookbook or two?
Released April 4thGoogle+