For the families of nearly six-hundred-thousand Americans, the low point of pandemic lockdown was watching their loved one die from a novel virus while the worldwide scientific community scrambled to find a treatment, cure or vaccine. It was saying goodbye via video call, if they got to say goodbye at all. Those of us who have been spared the pain of losing a loved one to COVID have still faced some all-time lows. Job loss. Financial devastation. Shuttered small businesses. Giving birth without our usual supports. The crushing weight of social isolation. Helping our children thrive (or at least survive) in seclusion. It’s taken its toll on most of us.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt the effects of this global shared trauma and made some tough and sometimes out-of-character choices just to get through it.
But there are some among us have truly “gone off the rails.”
Like Gwyneth Paltrow. She drank cocktails. She ate bread. And PASTA.
Can you even imagine?
Gwyneth revealed all of this when she was a guest on Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett’s podcast, Smartless. Apparently, during lockdown, Gwyneth drank two “quinoa whiskey” cocktails a night, sometimes 7 nights a week. In addition to bread. AND PASTA. THE HORROR.
I usually love Smartless because anything Sean Hayes touches is my favorite, but I have a lot of weird feelings about these comments from Gwyneth Paltrow.
She seems nice, honestly. I think she really believes all of the woo woo nonsense she peddles. I don’t think she is trying to get anyone to do stuff she doesn’t do herself. She’s created a specific kind of wellness cult brand that comprises her whole world at this point. I’m sure that producing vagina scented candles, selling gazillion dollar face cream, and avoiding sunscreen because of “chemicals” all seem like reasonable ideas to her. Her grasp on reality as experienced by a regular human being is…loose.
But honest to God, how many passes are we going to give her just because she seems nice and earnest? At some point, Gwyneth needs to get her shit together and stop saying ridiculous stuff because, like it or not, her words pull some weight, and real people are listening to her.
She actually said out loud in public that her problematic behavior was eating bread and pasta and making quinoa cocktails every night in her mansion. DURING A DEADLY PANDEMIC.
When I heard it, I just let out a big sigh. Oh, Gwyneth Paltrow.
I wonder if you even realize there are a lot of people who have suffered complete financial ruin because of COVID.
Those people have worried about being able to keep their lights on and make sure there is a roof over their family’s head. Sometimes, they have wondered how they would possibly fill their cupboards. Bread and pasta are affordable ways to fill bellies and make sure your child isn’t lying in bed with hunger pains. They’re also readily available at food pantries and in food boxes distributed by benevolent ministries and hunger charities. For many people, the low point of this pandemic did not include having too much food—and it certainly did not include the luxury of demonizing carbohydrates, a food group that provides quick energy to growing children.
If Gwyneth wants to commiserate in private with her famous, wealthy, Goopy friends, that’s one thing. They can all be rich and impossibly thin and bemoan their excess together. We all do our regular people version of the same thing when we unload on our friends and vent about stuff that is really a non-issue in the big picture. (Like our messy homes, our kids’ annoying habits, and our husbands’ snoring.)
But if you are a celebrity with a global platform—especially one that includes being the self-appointed HBIC at a massive luxury wellness brand– you should have the presence of mind and a soft enough heart to realize that the things you say carry a lot of weight and want to minimize harm wherever you can.
People are doing their best.
Eating bread and pasta is not “going off the rails.” It’s feeding your body. Clearly the implication is that carbs make you fat and being fat is a result of having no self-control– a belief that most people hold because our society has deeply embedded anti-fat sentiments into all of us from birth. When we villainize nourishing our body and even eating for comfort, especially during a global shared trauma, we contribute to the kind of thinking that leads to disordered eating, and ultimately, a harmful and toxic relationship with food that can take a lifetime to repair. (And shame doesn’t make anyone thinner.)
To be honest, I think discussing the drinking part is important.
I’m on board with her there. That’s a valid concern. I think sharing her feelings of powerlessness over alcohol with a wide audience could have been really positive.
But the way she approached it felt shamey to me. She said, “I mean, who drinks multiple drinks seven nights a week? Like, that’s not healthy.” Well, Gwyneth, lots of people drink multiple drinks seven nights a week. For a great many of them, it’s a struggle they cannot easily control, and some compassion is in order.
If Gwyneth Paltrow felt like drinking two cocktails a night was becoming a problem for her, then by all means, she should stop throwing back the “Buster Paltrows” (A drink she named after her grandfather.) She should be able to admit that she was overdoing it without fear of any kind of judgment.
Alcohol use problems are very difficult to combat, and it’s always a good idea for everyone to admit when they are feeling powerless so they can seek whatever level of help they need. But we can share our experiences without using flippant, shame-inducing language, and all decent people should try.
There was even a way to address the dietary changes if she felt she absolutely had to.
She could have acknowledged her privilege and mentioned how even with every resource available to her, she saw temporary changes in her eating habits. Gwyneth could have taken the chance to admit that, even in her ivory tower, she couldn’t escape all of the emotional, mental and physical toll of the pandemic. We could have had a brush with an empathetic, encouraging Goop goddess.
But that’s not what we got.
I know she doesn’t owe anyone decency or carefully chosen words.
And I know this is a small thing. I don’t think we are going to see some widespread crisis because Gwyneth Paltrow ridiculously insinuated that eating bread and pasta is completely out-of-control behavior.
But I do think there’s potential for already struggling people to feel guilt, shame and embarrassment about their food choices. I think it’s possible that parents who rely on simple carbs to put dinner on the table will feel like they aren’t doing enough. I think people grappling with their alcohol use could start making comparisons and feel hopeless.
Nothing positive happens when a celebrity says stuff like this. Whether she owes it to us or not, as a decent person (which she likely is) she should endeavor to understand the way her words can affect the health and well-being of the millions of people she reaches every time she chooses to open her mouth.
Gwyneth Paltrow chose to be the queen of a wellness empire. Heavy is the head.
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