Why Gwyneth Paltrow can’t win with the public

Why has Paltrow become the embodiment of an eye roll? For all intents and purposes, she’s a successful actor, a globally recognised wellness entrepreneur and a devoted mother. Yet she’s still so disliked that Vulture published a “practical guide to not hating Gwyneth Paltrow in Iron Man 3” in 2013, and she was voted most hated celebrity in Hollywood by Star magazine readers the same year.

The criticism is not entirely unwarranted, in large part because of Goop. Founded by Paltrow in 2008, the lifestyle website offers health and beauty tips, recipes, restaurant and travel suggestions and workout advice. But nearly everything Paltrow recommends is upscale and swanky – in other words, too expensive for us plebeians, giving off serious “let them eat cake” vibes.

Paltrow’s swathe of Goop products arguably elicit even more groans and moans, such as her “sexual wellness ear seeds”, “This Smells like my Vagina” candle, or US$1000 lamp. Her jade eggs and vaginal barbells, which Goop inaccurately claimed could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles and increase bladder control, even landed her with a lawsuit, which she settled by paying a US$145,000 settlement in 2018.

Over time, people have lambasted her apparent “holier than thou” attitude: her divorce wasn’t a break-up, it was a “conscious uncoupling”; she doesn’t countersue for all a person’s worth, she just seeks $1 in “symbolic damages”; she doesn’t just get therapy, she gets rectal ozone therapy.

And when she isn’t intentionally rubbing your face in how healthy and rich she is, she’s apparently subconsciously doing it.

For example, she posted her California guesthouse on Airbnb in August, offering people the chance to stay in her “sanctuary” for one night as a way to combat COVID-induced isolation. It sounds like a kind gesture, but some scoffed at the intimation that a night with Goop royalty could claim victory over the loneliness epidemic.

Gwyneth Paltrow briefly speaks with Terry Sanderson, left, who had sued her after an incident on a Utah ski field.

Gwyneth Paltrow briefly speaks with Terry Sanderson, left, who had sued her after an incident on a Utah ski field.Credit: AP

Basically, Paltrow can’t win. Whether she’s just being honest about how she lives day-by-day or is genuinely trying to help others, we deem her pompous and out of touch with reality. It’s easy to jump on the hate train once it’s gained such momentum, but our collective hatred of Paltrow may ultimately say more about us than her.

She arguably has it all: fame, fortune, family, fitness. Could our disdain ultimately be centred around the sexist preconceptions that saw us turn our backs on Anne Hathaway in 2013, when she was ridiculed for believing in and endorsing her own talent? Or could it be because she dated Brad Pitt (who isn’t at least slightly jealous of that)?

She speaks her mind, which has gotten her into trouble, but has also helped others find their own voice, such as when she helped Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey break the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct story. She doesn’t feign humbleness like most celebrities, and this abundance of honesty and confidence seems to baffle us mere mortals.


If you think about it, there’s actually a nurturing warmth to this enigmatic figure. Her films exist to entertain us, Goop exists to heal us (that’s the intention, at least) and her activism exists to motivate us. Some may watch her latest TikTok and sneer at her milk-steaming, probiotic-sucking lifestyle, but I invite you to consider it for what it is: just a mother spending time with her family promoting something she believes in.

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