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Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Team Gwyneth

I have a theory. I think the reason people (especially women) love to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty simple, she tells the truth. The problem is you don't want to hear the truth, do you? Because then you would really have to sit with the fact that the reason you don't like Gwyneth Paltrow is because you don't like your own life. We'll get to that a little later......

I should start out with a few disclaimers...

No, actually I won't.

This is what I think.

A couple weeks ago Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband musician Chris Martin announced they were separating. My parents divorced when I was 10, but I have never been married myself, so I can only imagine how hard the decision must be, especially when there are children involved. It is a time of great change and upheaval, emotional exhaustion and sadness. You are mourning the death of something.

But one day the sadness dissipates and when you least expect it happiness finds its way into your heart again. A new life begins. It is different from the one you had before, but in my case I think it was for the best. My parents didn't love each other anymore and they weren't happy. Children know exactly what's happening even if they can't verbalize it. Looking back, even as a child, I can pinpoint the "point of no return", when things changed and no amount of counseling, effort or compromise would have gotten them back on track. I was about 6 1/2 at that point but I knew. All experiences are relative though, so while I wasn't abused or neglected, these things did profoundly affect me. I had no idea what a loving relationship looked like and it was only years later that I understood how amazing the love and support of a partner could be.

So what the heck does this have to do with Gwyneth Paltrow? I don't really know anyone who hasn't been touched by divorce in some way. Their parents, themselves, good friends, etc. Divorce doesn't exist because you've failed or because you did something wrong. It exists because sometimes people just shouldn't be married anymore. News flash...that's ok! But that also doesn't mean it's not hard to go through. And I can't imagine how hard it is to go through when you know it's going to be plastered on magazine covers in every Wal-Mart from here to Timbuktu. And yet people (all of Twitter) feel they have the right to criticize her even from the release of the initial statement.

These are all things I've heard people actually say...

"Unconscious coupling???? What the hell is that? If I had that much money my divorce would have been amicable too! Rich people disgust me."

"Yea right they've never been closer. My husband and I never talked to each other about being happy why would we have talked about the fact that we were unhappy?"

"Hey I'm a movie star and I'm going through a rough time I need privacy. Then guess what you should have been a taxi driver. Deal with it!"

I obviously don't know Gwyneth Paltrow and the statement she released could be complete crap. But for arguments' sake let's give her the benefit of the doubt (don't worry just go with me I know your head is about to explode). Maybe they are trying to do this amicably, maybe they have been honest with each other about how they're feeling and have become closer and maybe, just maybe, they do need privacy because all of the money and fame in the world doesn't make it any easier.

So why do you hate her so much? Could it be because she told the truth? Maybe your marriage isn't any happier than hers was but you're not doing anything about it. Maybe you did everything you could to make the process drawn-out and difficult. Maybe you used your children as weapons (A thing that I have heard a few lament with such sadness in their eyes). Everyone makes mistakes and everyone does things their not proud of, but the level of anger I see people exhibit when it comes to her is disproportionate to what is in front of them. It leads me to believe it's not actually her they hate, but themselves. If you hate her it's easier to justify your own life being so bad.

I'm Team Gwyneth.

Let's move away from divorce to motherhood, another topic people love to hate Gwyneth for. An open letter from a blogger (who identified herself as a working mother, something I thought Gwyneth was too, but I guess actress really isn't a job right?) to Ms. Paltrow made the rounds on facebook about a week after the divorce statement. I saw working mothers/stay at home mothers/stay at home dads espouse it's virtues and applaud the writer's honesty.

This is what Gwyneth actually said.

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you're shooting a movie, they're like, "We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day, and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."

This is what the writer opened up with in her letter.

"I really enjoyed your comments to E News about how easy an office job is for parents, compared to the grueling circumstances of being on a movie set."

Here's a couple things that flashed through my mind....

Would you be this mad if that same quote was said by a man?

Would you be as upset if the quote was from a stay at home mom who said your life was easier because someone else was taking care of your children while you worked?

Do you have any clue that that's not what she said and you're reading into her quote because it triggered a dissatisfaction you have with your own life?

Are you mad because she told you exactly what she thinks?

Are you mad because you are looking for a celebrity, who you've never met, to lift you up, validate your life and tell you it's all going to be ok?

Are you mad because Gwyneth Paltrow doesn't give a crap about what you think and lives her life to make herself happy and you wish you could be more like that?

I'm Team Gwyneth.

Last but not least, let's move to beauty and fashion. I used to buy a lot of magazines in my twenties. I would sit and flip through the pages, hoping like Charlemagne and his pillow, that wisdom and advice would magically transform my brain. I would loose weight, never buy the wrong blouse again and be happy instantly. The advice in these magazines is ludicrous at best. A perfect celebrity in a bikini would say "everything in moderation" or "I eat a cheeseburger when I want to and don't deprive myself". You think oh ok I can do that and look like them too!!! No can't. But you don't want to hear that do you? You need the lie.

Gwyneth is pretty honest about her diet and exercise regime. She seems to be very disciplined and works very hard. I tried to do one of her Tracy Anderson Method Workouts and I almost passed out after 10 minutes. And I could never exist on a 800 calorie a day diet. I would similarly...pass out. I'm a hungry girl. But I don't want to look like her. I want to look like the healthiest, best version of myself. I don't buy a lot of magazine anymore:).

Again though, that's not what you want to hear is it? You want to hear that with minimal effort and 30 minutes of walking a day somehow it's possible. That gets you through the day. That gives you hope that one day you'll be happier like "they" are. You also tell yourself that since eating that cheeseburger and walking 30 min a day isn't transforming you into Gwyneth, the only way she does it is with a personal trainer and a private chef. Really? So she can't cancel on her personal trainer? She can't eat everything her personal chef has prepared and then turn around and tell her personal assistant and/or nanny to go get her a large pizza and subsequently devour said delivery?

Money can't fix things and it can't make you happy. Tearing down another person (something that I'm sure you would yell from the heavens that you'd never do) won't make you happy. No one can make you happy except you. This is something Gwyneth Paltrow, in my humble opinion, embodies wholly. And yet we tear her down for it?

I'm Team Gwyneth.

Now lets get real heavy cause what the heck why not? There are mothers and fathers in this country who work multiple jobs just to put food on the table for their family. The pictures you post on Facebook of your Disneyworld vacations with your children are things they can only dream of. And when they hear you while you're getting out of your Mercedes in the Target parking lot say that you are so annoyed that you have to cancel pilates AGAIN because your manicure ran over and your husband can't pick up the you know who you sound like to them...Gwyneth Paltrow. It's all relative.

There is no utopia that exists where somehow we're not going to judge other people and we're all going to sing songs around the campfire together. But maybe before we reach for those emotions we can look inside and ask first if it's ourselves we're not happy with before we criticize others.

I am guilty of it too. Just because I wrote this doesn't mean I'll never do it again. But maybe I can try and be better. And hopefully next time I will.

I'm Team Gwyneth.

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