Unconscious Baiting: Gwyneth Paltrow Tells Us Movie Star Parenting Is Harder

4 years ago

In my mind, Gwyneth Paltrow is one of my besties. I hate it when she proves me wrong.

I think I actually—as with almost every celebrity I fangirl—like the idea of Gwyneth. I don't know the real person, even though when I was in a grad school poetry class and the assignment was to write about a celebrity as if you knew them, I picked her:

Rita and Gwyneth Go to the Movies

We went to the film on an early spring Sunday
when very few women look good in sundresses,
the products of pre-tan Midwest
(she looks great, though).

The film, a blockbuster, a sold-out pop soundtrack,
four-color posters and Happy Meal tie-ins.
She begged me for weeks to give in and go see it—
She said that she loved the book.

I know, right? I'm a NERD. But the poem shoes how I imagined her, a normal human being deep down. But, well? Maybe not. Maybe too entrenched in her privilege?

(Credit Image: © TLeopold/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Even though I thought it was weird that she said she and Chris Martin were "consciously uncoupling" instead of "getting a divorce," (she's since added a definition to her site that helped me understand what the hell she was talking about) I didn't really want to slam her this week. I don't think it's very cool to kick people when they are down, and no matter how you are uncoupling, that can't be fun. But now she's gone on record in an interview with E! Online and said—in what has become her trademark wrong-choice-of-words fashion—that being a movie star mom is harder than being a regular working mom:

She added, "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."

I think what she meant is being away physically from your kids is hard, and I wouldn't have taken issue with that at all. I just wrote this week about my struggles as a parent when my husband is gone for weeks at a time, and I know he struggles with it, too. So why didn't she just say traveling is hard instead of specifically movies are hard? Because I would not be writing this post if she did.

As much as I'd love to believe it, Gwyneth is not going to the movies with me. She's IN the movies. She's not me. She has resources and connections I can't dream of. That doesn't necessarily make her life easier, per se, but it doesn't make it harder, either. What she said was ridiculous in the same way her lifestyle site Goop contains only things the average person could never, ever afford while claiming to be "a wealth of knowledge and an indispensable resource for all who love to make, go, get, do, be and see."

I don't think she does it to rub our relative poverty in our faces, though. I think she's honestly that clueless about how the things she says make those of us with "normal" jobs (typing posts while making dinner that is not heirloom, organic or gently seared) feel, which is kind of like stabbing something other than the pot roast. Her blindness doesn't excuse the extreme vitriol Gwyneth engenders on the internet, but it kind of blindly encourages it. As BlogHer Executive Editor Julie Ross Godar noted, "Not acknowledging one's privilege is justifiably mockable when one's privilege is so very privileged, especially when one compares oneself to unprivileged 'regular' people and judges one's own life more difficult."

We all know that having a routine that doesn't involve servants doesn't help much. There are things you normally do in the morning, then there are the fires that start, and then you're doing the morning things in the afternoon and then you get home and nobody's cleaned the house or done the laundry or cooked your food or picked up your kids or chosen your clothes. Gwyneth may not have all of those services every day, but it seems unfathomable that the woman who reportedly sought a nanny who possesses a classical education, including Greek and Latin, is fluent in at least three languages (preferably including Mandarin or Japanese), is musically fluent in two instruments, is passionate about sailing and tennis, and enjoys art history or martial arts doesn't have more help than the average working parent.

I feel bad for you during this tough time, Gwyneth. But seriously, just stop comparing your working life to ours. It's really insulting.

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the deputy editor of BlogHer.com. Find more at www.ritaarens.com.

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