In April of 2013, Gwyneth Paltrow was named America's Most Hated Celebrity by Star Magazine, which makes sense considering the amount of vitriol that's so regularly spewed at the GOOP lifestyle magnate online. So why does the “Iron Man” star inspire so much anger?
While Gwyneth is undoubtedly out of touch with the “average person” in a chronic and frequently cringeworthy sort of way, the amount of criticism directed at her feels, to me, out of all proportion to her so-called offenses. In contrast to the insufferable kowtowing of most celebrities who have made it their mission to prove how “relatable” they are to the public at large, Gwyneth is unapologetic about the fact that she grew up privileged (she's the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and late producer Bruce Paltrow) and has no idea what it's like to be live paycheck to paycheck.
“I can't pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year,” she once said — a stunningly honest quote that was nevertheless been deemed “obnoxious,” “pretentious,” and other unsavory adjectives. Which strikes me as a disingenuous pile-on. Would you rather she claimed to eat at Chipotle, just so you could “relate” to her better?
As the actress's recent SNAP food stamp challenge indicates, the public just can't seem to give Gwyneth a break when it comes to her seemingly weekly-to-monthly missteps. Below, I've ranked nine of her most memorable controversies, from least-to-most impactful.
9. Gwyneth sells bikinis for little girls
Date: April 2013
The Controversy: Gwyneth was accused of contributing to the sexualization of young girls by selling $45 string bikinis aimed at the 4-10 set on Goop.
Sample outrage: “It is important that mothers and other adults accept the responsibility of protecting their daughters and ensuring they dress in ways that are appropriate to their age and innocence. Scaled down versions of women's clothing that are intended to arouse sexual interest are not appropriate for young girls.” — Women”s Forum Australia Managing Director Kristan Dooley
Did Gwyneth respond? Not directly, but a spokesperson termed the outrage “absurd” before adding: “Two-piece bathing suits have been worn by young girls for decades.”
Reason for placement: I actually hadn't heard about this controversy prior to compiling this list, and the outrage seemed mostly limited to so-called child advocates who are clearly Nancy Grace clones.
[Source: The Mirror]
8. Gwyneth's Vanity Fair kerfuffle
Date: February 2014
Controversy: After Gwyneth demanded that a December 2013 Vanity Fair story critical of her be softened for publication (it worked), editor-in-chief Graydon Carter related in the pages of his magazine that the actress went so far as to ask “[friends and family] not speak to Vanity Fair about her, or about anything else ever again. Ever. Never. Kim Jong-un couldn”t have issued a more blanket demand.”
Did Gwyneth respond? No.
Reason for placement: While the VF controversy got a fair amount of pickup at the time — along with tons of speculation from well-respected political websites like Radar Online — the only person who seemed genuinely ruffled by Gwyneth's face-saving tactics was Graydon Carter himself.
7. Gwyneth releases a cookbook
Date: April 2013
Controversy: Gwyneth's gluten-free, sugar-free cookbook “It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great” was met with skepticism and outright scorn by many members of the media, who accused her of — yes — being out-of-touch with the average consumer.
Sample outrage: “Gwyneth Paltrow Has Written the Bible of Laughable Hollywood Neuroticism” — The Wire's Esther Zuckerman
Did Gwyneth respond? “That is insane,” Gwyneth responded on Good Morning America to claims by one lifestyle critic that following the recipes outlined in the book could cost an average family up to $300 a day. “I mean this meal here is like $2 a person so I don't know where they're getting (that figure). I say I like honey, like raw honey, and a jar is $25, but it lasts for two years. So they were just being sensationalist.”
Reason for placement: Gwyneth's cookbook kerfuffle was a worthy controversy, but would later be usurped by the more extreme likes of…
6. Gwyneth's New Year's detox diet
Date: January 2014
Controversy: After advocating a New Year's cleanse in her GOOP newsletter consisting of such yummy items as water with lemon and a walnut-and-lentil pâté, the actress was criticized by nutritionists for essentially advocating a “starvation-type diet.”
Sample outrage: “It”s basically no food or nutrition.” — nutritionist Dr. Fred Pescatore
Did Gwyneth respond? Not to my knowledge.
[Source: Radar Online]
5. Gwyneth uses the N-word
Date: June 2012
Controversy: While attending Jay Z and Kanye West's “Watch the Throne” tour stop in Paris, the actress tweeted a photo of herself with the rappers along with the caption “Ni**as in paris for real.” Oh oh.
Sample outrage: “Gwyneth Paltrow's use of the word “niggas” just strengthens my theory that she still thinks she can own black people.” — Twitter user @goldcoastmatt
Did Gwyneth respond? “Hold up. It's the title of the song!” she tweeted the following day.
Outrage Scale: This one blew over pretty quickly, but it was pretty intense there for a day or so.
4. Gwyneth eats like a poor person
Date: April 2015
Controversy: Gwyneth accepted the New York Food Bank's challenge to live on a food budget of only $29 for a whole week by tweeting an image of her purchases, which included seven limes and a bunch of green vegetables that lacked the necessary nutritional value to get a working mother through a long shift at the factory. Media writers and social media watchers were quick to pick up on this.
Sample Outrage: “Gwyneth Paltrow eating on $29 for an entire week might be more impressive if she consumed more than 1,000 calories in that time.” — Twitter user @azqwsxcderfv
Did Gwyneth respond? No.<
Reason for placement: I might have ranked this one higher, but it's too new a controversy to make the top three.
3. Gwyneth's life is kind of like war
Date: May 2014
Controversy: While speaking about online bullying at something called a Code Conference, the actress ill-advisedly analogized her experiences as an oft-targeted celebrity to fighting in a war. The quote that raised hackles: “It's almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it.”
Sample outrage: “Gweneth [sic] Paltrow is a joke. Her life is like taking bullets for a soldier. What a joke! My 2 sons serving in the military should talk to her.” – Cindy McCain
Did Gwyneth respond? No.
Reason for placement: Inadvertently offending the troops is one of the most damning missteps a celebrity can make.
2. Gwyneth's job is harder and more time-consuming than yours
Date: May 2014
Controversy: While speaking with E! News about her decision to take a break from acting to focus on her kids post-“conscious uncoupling,” Gwyneth told the network: “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.”
Sample outrage: “For all of you that have Gwenyth Paltrow's phone number, especially her publicist , producers, studio executives and magazine editiors, please call her to tell her to shut the f**k up.” – E! Online commenter Thom Pinto
Did Gwyneth respond? Yes, in her GOOP newsletter. “Film work takes one away from home and requires 12-14 hours a day, making it difficult to be the one to make the kids their lunch, drive them to school, and put them to bed. So I have found it easier on my family life to make a film the exception, and my 9-5 job the rule. This somehow was taken to mean I had said a 9-5 job is easier, and a lot of heat was thrown my way, especially by other working mothers who somehow used my out-of-context quote as an opportunity to express feelings (perhaps projected) on the subject.”
Reason for placement: The only thing worse than inadvertently offending the troops may be inadvertently offending working mothers.
1. Gwyneth “consciously uncouples” from Chris Martin
Date: March 2014
Controversy: Gwyneth and hubby Chris Martin became the target of ridicule and laughlines after announcing in a statement on Goop) that they were “consciously uncoupling” after 10 years of marriage. For plebes, that translates to “separating.”
Sample outrage: “Conscious uncoupling? Gwyneth Paltrow has consciously uncoupled her head from her shoulders and inserted it up her arse.” — Twitter user @Willybyte
Did Gwyneth respond? In an interview with Marie Claire Australia: “OK, you can make fun of the term or whatever. I didn't invent it.”
Reason for placement: In the scheme of Gwyneth controversies, nothing can approach the level of pure cultural impact as this incredible announcement.