Saturday, May 4, 2013

Reverse Schadenfreude

The other week I, along with many others, stumbled across one of the many stories that accompanied the release of Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook: I’m Better at Eating Than You. It’s not actually called that, unfortunately—it’s actually called, “It’s All Good,” which seems like the wrong name for a couple of reasons. One, that’s a phrase usually uttered by folks who genuinely don’t care whether the wings they ordered come out mild or spicy, or if the beer is room temperature. “It’s all good,” those folks say. And we believe them. These are not the type of people who specify that they want not salt but coarse Mediterranean sea salt.
The second reason this name is just weird is that according to Gwynnie—it most certainly is NOT all good. Some of the stuff on her no-fly food list includes: coffee, eggs, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, wheat, meat, and sugar. @%$#! Potatoes?! Coffee?! Sugar?! Her no list includes my entire diet except for chicken, incidentally.

The stylish and stick-like actress has taken a lot of heat for the book, in which she shares the gluten-free vegan-organic recipes she uses at home. She’s been accused of being out of touch with regular folks who don’t have the money (or time) to acquire some kind of fancy honey that runs twenty-five bucks a jar, but which Gwyn insists is the best. Yahoo Shine blogger Beth Greenfield figured out that a day of her recipes would cost hundreds of dollars to make for a family of four.

Of course she’s out of touch with regular folks, though. Her father was a film director and her mother’s a famous actress. She never mastered the art of existing solely on ramen noodles (forget the no-carb diet—raise your hand if you’ve ever been stuck with the ALL carb diet!). Guarantee her parents never took her “furniture shopping” on large-item pick up day. The only tawdry experience she’s likely had to endure was Shallow Hal.

I don’t hate her for being out of touch, or for having skinny genes. But I can also sort of see why her whole lifestyle brand-situation rankles some people. The text of a book like this one urges the reader to be better—but the subtext is: the choices you are making now are wrong.

As a one of those regular folks, I can tell you on a good day, I manage to not go to Chipotle for dinner. And don’t get me started on lunch. The other day during lunch period, while grading papers, I ate a remarkable collection of crap including, but not limited to, a stack of Pringles and some of the candy I keep in my desk to use for prizes. Sometimes it’s hard to get through a ridiculously busy day, let alone Be Your Best Self. So even when I’m trying to do better—like I’ve been trying to stay away from soda for the past month or so—I still tend to scoff at people who say they get up at five am to juice, or who’d go to a raw food restaurant on purpose.

The other night on Bill Maher guest Jimmy Kimmel talked about Paltrow. He said people get bent out of shape because she’s perfect, even what she eats is perfect. And yet: the book's current overall sales rank on Amazon is #11. Which just goes to show that life really is just like high school. Everybody rags on the prettiest girl in school for being a snob, and then everybody votes for her for prom queen. In such a complicated world, I suppose it’s a comfort when you realize that sometimes life is exactly like eleventh grade.


  1. Great post!! I'm Better at Eating Than You would be a hilarious title! :)

    1. Thanks! :) I think it would've been a pretty accurate one :D

  2. I remember that comment on Bill Maher. She also told Chelsea Handler that she needs to see a neurologist in a joking, but not really joking way the other day. I don't have anything against her, but for some reason instead of her comments coming across as advice, they seem to come off as "you're doing it wrong, my way is the only right way" for some reason. Can't explain it.

    1. I think so too! And yet a lot of people don't seem to mind! I can't imagine there are that many people dying to "cleanse" instead of eat!