Gwyneth Paltrow, who loves juice cleanses and is responsible for bringing the term “conscious uncoupling” to the mainstream, is no stranger to insults. The skinny, rich, blonde Hollywood star gets plenty of flak for her lifestyle brand GOOP, where she sells eco-friendly nail polish and monogrammable reclaimed-wood skateboards while sharing stories from her fabulous life and namedropping her celebrity pals.
Paltrow’s tone deafness at trying to come across “accessible” to her largely female fanbase is ripe for criticism, and it has become a touchstone of the way that many stars fail at appearing relatable to us regular folks. But there’s one word in particular that keeps coming up in criticisms of Paltrow and others like her that deserves a closer look: “smug.”
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This weekend, Kira Kazantsev from New York won the 88th Miss America pageant at Atlantic City, which was inevitably followed by a slew of blog posts viciously skewering Kazantsev and the Miss America pageant in general. Gawker honed in on Kazantsev’s “rhythmless red-cup percussion“ rendition of “Happy,” inspired by the movie “Pitch Perfect.” Salon, in an otherwise sympathetic post, called the pageant “a collective American Nelson Muntz moment.” And Bustle redubbed Ms. America ”Miss Symbol of Conventional Gender Mores.”
Every year, I read these posts lambasting the Miss America pageant for being sexist, lame, irrelevant, and outdated, and the contestants themselves for being little more than a dumb person’s idea of ideal American femininity, anthropomorphized celery stalks liberally smeared with self-bronzer and Bonne Bell purple eyeshadow. And I agree with them, to some extent. (That flip-cup rendition of “Happy” wasn’t stellar, let’s just leave it at that.)
But mostly they just make my eyes roll into the back of my skull. Keep reading »
Two Hollywood legends passed this week — Robin Williams, 63, on Monday morning, and Lauren Bacall, 89, on Tuesday night. They died in extremely different ways, but both were household names who’d been in numerous iconic films. These two deaths are being handled very differently — Bacall’s obituaries and remembrances are far more focused on her sex appeal than her career.
It’s understandable to mention an iconic actress’ beauty in an obituary, especially one who was discovered while working as a fashion model. I’m not suggesting that Lauren Bacall’s great beauty should be off-limits entirely. And to a certain extent, the emphasis on Bacall’s old Hollywood glamour is also understandable — her scandalous romance with Humphrey Bogart is far more interesting to most people, I’m sure, than Robin Williams’ three marriages. Yet the way some of her obits have been written make it seem as though Bacall was more famous for her looks and her husbands than for her over-half-a-century-long career in which she appeared in some of Hollywood’s biggest films, like “The Big Sleep,” “How To Marry A Millionaire,” and “Misery.” Writes blogger Tracy McVeigh in the UK’s Guardian, “It’s often the case with beautiful women that their achievements can be undone by people transfixed by their smouldering celluloid gaze.”
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What does a woman’s past sexual experience have to do with her teaching skills? Just about everything! That’s why the education department in Sao Paolo, Brazil gets all up in the ladybusiness of potential female employees. According to women’s rights activists in Brazil, as cited by The Washington Post, women are required to prove their virginity via a doctor’s note or undergo a gynecological exam to test for cancer. At the direction of the Health Ministry, the education department says they want to ensure that female hires won’t be taking any longterm leaves due to health matters, because the cervix is the only place on a woman’s body where she can get sick. Stay on top of it, Sao Paolo! We wouldn’t anyone with carnal knowledge teaching our children.[Washington Post] [Image of gynecologist's office via Shutterstock]
As a child, I was sick with relative frequency. I remember returning to third grade after a month off with mono, several pounds lighter, and my skin pale from lack of exposure to sun. As I walked in, all Colin from The Secret Garden, the bitchiest girl in the class announced “You’re, like, always sick.”
It had occurred to me that I was sick more often than my peers. True, my mother had a fairly lenient stay-home-from-school policy, but by the time I was 10, I’d had mono, bronchitis, pneumonia, an ongoing bladder reflux issue and several sinus infections. My sisters are the same way. We’re evolutionarily weak. Whatever.
One might posit that having two orthopedic surgeries and a few viral and bacterial infections would foster some stoicism around unwellness. Well, one would be wrong. Practice, in my case, does not make perfect. When I’m ill, I’m a nightmare. Keep reading »