Recently, I accidentally become a Gwyneth Paltrow apologist.
Obviously, I didn’t mean for it to happen. But, about four months ago, innocently enough, I signed up for the goop.com newsletter on a whim. My initial attraction was, bizarrely, that Gwyneth Paltrow’s way of life (excuse me, “lifestyle”) made me feel better about my own.
That sentence is a paradox, and, in all likelihood, has never been uttered before. But let me explain:
The thing is that my life is fairly easy. I’m not, you know, a Rich Kid of Instagram or anything, but I am highly aware of the relative meaninglessness of my own, very tiny, #millennialproblems. That is, I know that the fears or worries or whatever that I have feel incredibly real to me — like grades, generational angst, finding a job that also lets me find myself, etc.– but they have no impact on anyone else, especially when considered in the light of basically everything else that’s happening in the world today. I’ve never been a proponent of a “eat-your-vegetables-there-are-starving-kids-in-Africa” approach as a barometer for suffering, but when your main duties end up only relating specifically to yourself, sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to help the over-pampered, privilege-bloated individual that you are, comparatively.
Thus, a subscription to the goop.com newsletter became a means of assuaging my self-doubt no matter how minuscule my current crises at the time happened to be. Every Thursday, when it was sent out, I would remember anew that Gwyneth has worries that actually matter less than mine– like the quandary of selecting an osteopath, and “mommy wars” over the very specific difficulty of being the subject of resentment from other mothers due to being too wealthy, all presented in a concise, aesthetically pleasing bulletin.
After reading, sufficiently soothed and with some perspective (or lack thereof), I would turn to my own issues, which somehow now seemed much more relevant.
I am easily influenced
But then, like a true Cady Heron, somewhere along the way, I stopped being an aloof onlooker and turned into an actively devout participant. I should have realized that I was in too deep when I engaged a professor in a heated debate over the validity of “conscious uncoupling,” or when I force-fed my sixteen-year-old brother an unfortunate goop concoction called “Warm Walnut Pâté.”
But I had become like Gwyneth, in that I was exceedingly non-self-aware. So I stopped eating gluten, for some time, for literally no reason whatsoever.
It was a dark time. This act effectively rendered me the full caricature of myself that had been several years in the making, having always been a fairly kitschy Whole Foods-er with a Prius. Perhaps this is why my first few gluten-free days were suspiciously easy, enhanced by bizarre mix of adrenaline and a fabricated sense of superiority. I flitted about my days in a smug, jicama root-induced haze. This is so easy, I would think to myself, scoffing at those who deign to eat wheat. My friends, who are not as gullible as I am and all eat gluten, obviously loved this.
One day at work, a cake appeared in the break room. In this moment, I proudly announce to anyone that will listen that I have given up gluten for the time being— nobody cares, obviously, but I pretend that they do. (Later, I sneak back in and eat some icing).
The rest of my memories of these first few days are fuzzy– I do remember yelling at my dad for accidentally mixing some pasta in with my quinoa. But still, these are happy, hazy, halcyon days.
You’re tearing me apart, Gwyneth
After about a week, I begin to lose faith. I opened my freezer one day to find four Trader Joe’s Frozen Spinach Pizzas, which happens to be my very favorite food in the world. I resist it, but only just (“What would Gwyneth do?” I ask myself, which is concerning). I can’t tell if what I am experiencing is a fledgling eating disorder or evangelicalism, but it is probably something in between.
At my younger sister’s graduation dinner, a beautiful dark chocolate mousse cake is served. I can’t eat it and I am, obviously, morose until I devise an ingenious method of extracting the dark chocolate mousse by gently sliding a spoon betwixt the layers of glutinous cake until I have a generous serving on my plate. This is not what Gwyneth would do, most likely, but I am sated. However, my family is appalled (the rest of the cake is now collapsing on itself). I can’t help but wonder if this is causing a rift within my family.
Then, after exactly thirty-six days, I eat some gluten- half of an M&M cookie, at a work barbecue, on impulse. Just as I entered my gluten “cleanse,” I am suddenly out of it: suddenly, for no apparent reason, and with no great effect.
Nothing happens, save for the tremors I feel from a placebo effect crashing down—I do not pass out, nor do I violently puke, and my colon does not explode. My stomach hurts, though. A little bit. I think.
I can’t say that I’m angry, though— once a Gwyneth apologist, always a Gwyneth apologist, as they say. I remain steadfast in my fascination with ol’ Goop and her blithe, out-of-touch lifestyle advice, which helped me lose five completely imperceptible, unimpressive pounds over the course of thirty-six days. I will also forever cherish this roasted carrot soup recipe, and I still think that “conscious uncoupling” is secretly a rather brilliant concept. Finally, I am nothing if not a fan of a good hyperbole—I admire the hysterical melodrama of saying you would “rather die” than let your kid eat cup-a-soup, or that you would prefer to “smoke crack” rather than eat cheese from a can. So- I like Gwyneth, and you can pry my goop subscription out of my cold, dead, gluten-free hands.
Giving up gluten, though, is something I only advise if:
A) You seriously need to “get a grip” on your life,
B) Alienating yourself from your friends and family sounds like a fun activity.
And that’s about all there is to that.