Is Gwyneth Paltrow My Personal Dorian Gray?

Early this morning or yesterday morning, a news item about Gwyneth Paltrow and the most recent example of her smugness and sanctimony came through my feed.  I rolled my eyes and moved on.

I hate Gwyneth Paltrow. OK, “hate” is probably unnecessary, and I’m trying to use the word less since some 4-year-old who lives in this house call us on it every time we use it.  How about this: I really, really don’t like her. I really dislike her.  I have extremely strong negative feelings about her. If you asked me to name my least favorite actress, she would be at the top of my list every time.

The problem is that I feel uneasy about my dislike of Gwyneth Paltrow.  Some people I have no problem disliking and think are (or were) horrible people: Hitler, Dick Cheney, Palin, the Tea Party, Jonathan Franzen…I could go on, but you get the point.

Sometimes, though, having strong negative feelings about a person makes me wonder if it says more about me than the individual in question. Am I responding to the fact that the person is truly awful and deserving of my ire or is the reason murkier? I wonder more and more if my dislike for Gwyneth Paltrow is due to my recognition in her of certain traits and behaviors of my own that I’m not proud of. Perhaps she is my personal Dorian Gray, the painting that reflects the dark parts of myself that I don’t like.

That may sound silly because what in the world could I have in common with Paltrow? No, I’m not a sylph-like blond who indulges in liquid diets and colonics as well as expensive personal trainers to maintain a girlish, youthful figure. That ship sailed long ago.  These are the traits I see in her that bother me:

  • Pretension
  • Being out of touch with the real world
  • Nepotism/not earning achievements
  • Snobbishness

This list represents everything I’m afraid people see when they look at me.  Yes, I like nice things, but I never forget that I am from a small town in North Carolina. I do not come from wealth and do not pretend to. I like takeout Chinese and expensive steak dinners.  I would never spend more than $10 for a bottle of wine. I read all types of books ranging from high-brow to low-brow.  I believe I’ve worked hard for what I have achieved, and it would kill me to think that what success I have is any way attributed to a family connection or something out of my control.

I’m vocal. I use big words and have been known to throw in the occasional reference to a book or article I’ve read.  I do not in any way think I am special or even especially smart. I recognize that I have abilities – curiosity and a good memory may be chief among them – but I don’t try to impress people or believe in any way that I am more important than they are.  I also understand that I have a good life and am very fortunate. One aspect of social media is how it has pushed me to be more reflective about beliefs and opinions I have and has truly expanded my understanding of differing points of view and experiences. I’ve always prided myself on being liberal and now, I hope I’m actually being a good (or better) person who is in touch with the variety of experiences people have in this country.

That’s my rebuttal to the list. As I wrote in a comment on another blog tonight, I always assume people perceive the worst about me. I don’t know if that’s low self-esteem or if it is something I’ve come to accept after years of being told I’m a bit of a challenge. I think what I have in Gwyneth Paltrow is my model of what kind of person I do NOT want to be.  Maybe I should thank her because I can look to her and tell myself, “Nope. Don’t do that. Don’t be like that.”



  1. You are definitely not alone in your dislike of Gwyneth. Lots of people dislike her.

    Weirdly, I don’t. I roll my eyes at a lot of what she says, I think she lives in a super protected bubble of ultra wealth. But she amuses me. Her privilege is so irrelevant to everyone’s lives, it amuses me to think she thinks she has anything relevant to say.

    BTW: Vanity Fair is apparently doing a takedown on her.

  2. I don’t dislike Gwyneth Paltrow. I also think the media has a meme thing going with her being all the things above. That’s their story, and that’s what they write about whenever they write a story about her. Who knows what the reality is. I’m all for healthy eating and cooking and whatever … not so much into liquid cleanses or colon whatevers, though I hadn’t noticed stories about her on that. But whatever. I don’t tend to click headlines about her because I honestly don’t care. (Not that I’m holier than thou in that respect– I tend to stick to who is dating/divorcing who and who is in jail for what this time, so my TMZ clicks are more low-brow.)

    It does bother me when women are put down for doing what folks think “is best”– breastfeeding, eating organics, working, exercising, being self-confident etc. I’m pretty perfect myself, for my definition of perfect (turns out I don’t care that much about what other people would consider to be my imperfections), and I know that makes a lot of people on the internet irritated with me… but I also know that doesn’t mean much about me. Still, I don’t think it’s healthy to read other women being put down for doing what they think is best so long as it doesn’t hurt other people (Jenny McCarthy thinking not vaccinating is best does hurt other people)– I think that feeds into the patriarchy.

    So hey, shame on the media, shame on Vanity Fair, shame on the patriarchy. Let’s all live our lives and ignore people who are irrelevant to us. If she’s against higher taxes for the 1% or for cutting food-stamps (and I don’t recall that being one of her “things”), then let’s attack her on that, but not on things like recommending organic foods. Everyone should be able to eat well. Pretension isn’t worth worrying about unless it harms others.

  3. Gwinnie is so easy to hate, what with her goop and the things that come out of her mouth sometimes. But then I think it is easy to dismiss whatever a slim, blond, human variant of a doll says, she will never be taken seriously, not even she had her ph.d. in neuroscience. Mostly because she lacks a basic skill, that of being relatable, and since no once can relate to her, people stop paying her attention within two seconds.

    Why do you think Jonathan Franzen is horrible? You made me curious.

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