Gwyneth Paltrow may be an ‘almond mum’ – but at least she’s honest about it, right?
Celebrities’ diets and so-called wellness routines are the biggest threat to this relationship, as they expose the invisible labour – private gyms, personal chefs, infrared saunas, etc. – that goes into maintaining their appearance. In this way, celebrities are incentivised to keep their extreme weight loss tactics on the lowdown.
“Part of the allure of celebrity culture is how celebs appear to always be so perfectly put together and impossibly beautiful and endlessly happy and rich,” adds Crabbe. “Celebrity culture sets the expectation that these women are meant to attain a level of physical perfection that is only possible through expensive treatments and extreme lifestyles while giving the impression that it’s all-natural. It’s the ultimate illusion.”
“Paltrow is far from the only famous woman on a restrictive diet – but she is one of the few who actually admits to it.”
When celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow describe bone broth as “soup” – or when Kim Kardashian talks about crash-dieting to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress – they momentarily suspend the illusion that their appearance is an effortless by-product of their fame. Paltrow is far from the only famous woman on a restrictive diet. She is, however, one of the few who actually admits to it – even if she does so under the guise of wellness.
Does this mean we should celebrate celebrities like Paltrow and Kardashian, who offer a modicum of honesty about the harsh realities of maintaining their body shape? Err, probably not.
Paltrow’s raison d’etre is wellness. As the founder of Goop, she represents an elitist vision of wellness that appeals to the super-wealthy and those who aspire to be super-wealthy. She has an engaged audience of women who are the targets of endless marketing campaigns (not just by Goop) promoting the pursuit of wellness.
Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist and author of The Science of Nutrition, says Paltrow’s approach to wellness can be “very dangerous,” noting that “most of the techniques or methods are not evidence-based.”
As Paltrow has positioned herself as an expert on all things health, some people may interpret her own lifestyle as nutritional advice, which promotes what Lambert describes as an “Eat like me, look like me” relationship, which is “one of the biggest red flags” when it comes to nutrition and body image.
“Paltrow has a financial incentive to be ~honest~ about her wellness routine…”
For most people without Paltrow’s infinite resources, extreme attempts at restriction can trigger long-term disordered eating. Christy Harrison, a registered anti-diet dietician, describes this phenomenon as the “Restriction Pendulum.”
When the pendulum swings to the restriction side, Harrison writes, “your body’s natural response is to push the pendulum back to the other side – to eating a lot, feeling out of control with food, even bingeing.” Cue immense feelings of fear and shame around food, as well as the physical risks associated with restriction and binging, such as fatigue, reduced immunity, and nutritional deficiencies.
Paltrow has a financial incentive to be ~honest~ about her wellness routine. Back in 2018, Taffy Brodesser-Akner explained how Goop is able to monetize controversy, writing, “every time there was a negative story about [Paltrow] or her company, all that did was bring more people to the site. (via The New York Times).”
Since Paltrow’s interview, TikTok has been awash with people critiquing her comments; her name has trended on Twitter, and there have been countless news stories and op-eds – including this one – devoted to her. What’s that about all publicity being good publicity?
Diet culture looms large over us all, including celebrities and including Gwyneth Paltrow. It forces us into a double bind where we’re either furious at celebs for lying about what they eat or furious at them for being honest about what they eat. Either way, we’re getting ourselves wound up about diets and food – when we could be expending our brain power on things that actually matter.
Is there another way forward? Crabbe thinks so, explaining that she wants a world where “Celebrities acknowledge the damage that both of these options do to themselves and their audiences, and recognise their power to break away from diet culture and set a new standard.”
It can’t come soon enough.
If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, you can contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or beateatingdisorders.org.uk.
For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.