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Why Can’t We Look Away From Gwyneth Paltrow?

On the night of the Oscars, Gwyneth Paltrow was busy getting her roots touched up, so she tuned in to the ceremony on her laptop. When her friend and former Iron Man co-star, Robert Downey Jr., won his first Academy Award, she posted a celebratory video to her Instagram Stories, showing her followers the livestream on her computer and then flipping her iPhone camera around to reveal her signature blonde hair covered in tin foil as she squealed with glee.

Naturally, the Internet was interested in nothing but the rare, split-second glimpse of Paltrow’s screen. Sure enough, all of her Safari bookmarks were visible. They included New York Times Cooking, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and, of course, Goop. But also: Expensify, Looker Studio, which is a Google data visualization tool, and RTR Diligent, a software that governing boards use to communicate. “LinkedIn and Expensify sending me,” tweeted writer Peyton Dix, shortly after Paltrow posted.

If anything, Paltrow’s desktop is proof that she’s involved in her company in all the boring ways any other CEO has to be—not just the pretty face of it. If you’ve recently applied for a job at Goop, she might even be looking at your LinkedIn profile right now. “I mean, I have a company of 200-plus people,” she says with the verbal equivalent of a shrug. “We are always hiring, so I’m on LinkedIn quite a bit.” She’s also on Slack, although only until 5:30 or 6 p.m.—a boundary she set during the pandemic.

More revealing than Paltrow’s bookmarks was the public’s desire to meticulously unpack every single one of them, as though they might uncover some new nugget of information about her that they could criticize, copy, or both. “That’s hilarious,” she says when I tell her of the reaction online, although she isn’t laughing.

The idea of Paltrow having to engage with such plebeian tasks as logging receipts and “circling back” on Microsoft Outlook is funny because it’s so out of character. She’s never pretended to be like us, which is part of her appeal. (“I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year,” is an oft-quoted remark of hers.) Her email sign-off might as well read, “sent from my $62,760 indoor hammock.”

It is precisely because of her obvious privilege that she’s got us hanging on her every word, desperate to believe that if we do and click as she does—if we pin the same photos, save the same Times recipes, and maybe even stick a jade egg up our vaginas while we’re at it—we can be a little bit like her. And it’s her down-to-earth aura that tricks us into thinking we might. When we spoke, Paltrow’s voice oozed from my iPhone speaker like honey made from bees in a celebrity’s Montecito backyard. I’d pay anything to sound like that, and never wanted to hang up. If there were a Goddess of Aspiration, Paltrow would be it.

In 2008, when Goop was founded, the public was particularly starved for direction. In the face of economic collapse and general doom and gloom, Prophet Paltrow emerged as a figure you could trust to tell you how to make yourself feel better. Sixteen years later, the vibes are still very much bad—perhaps worse than they were before—and we clearly still crave her self-assured guidance and blissed-out lifestyle, which only seems to become more blissed-out with each passing day. Paltrow’s methods may be unconventional, but the woo-woo of it all is half the fun.While countless other celebrity lifestyle brands have petered out, Goop has remained relevant by touting the newest, craziest-sounding thing, with its fearless leader the first to incorporate it into her wellness routine.

It’s easy to forget that Goop, which is now a multimillion-dollar behemoth with multiple offshoots, started as a humble newsletter—one sent straight from Paltrow’s laptop to subscribers’ inboxes with recipes for turkey ragu and banana nut muffins. Today, everyone and their mother is doling out recommendations for a fee on Substack, myself included.

Add this to the long list of cultural movements, in addition to wellness, that Paltrow was at the forefront of—she essentially invented “conscious uncoupling” and “quiet luxury” before we had terms for them, and she was one of the first celebrities to bestow larger-than-life names on her children. On a more serious note, she was also one of the first women to go on the record about having been harassed by Harvey Weinstein. And, for better or worse, she’s figured out how to use online skepticism and hate to her advantage.


Weight 2 lbs
Dimensions 13 × 10 × 1 in

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