Watching Gwyneth Paltrow's online lifestyle magazine plug along as though there's no recession nourishes my deeply petty inner aspect.

By Kate Harding

Published December 5, 2008 3:16PM (EST)

I've long had an inexplicable soft spot for Gwyneth Paltrow, but when I first checked out lifestyle site GOOP, my most charitable response was, "Oh, you have got to be kidding me." As Jessica at Jezebel put it back in September, "Lady, you should take your macrobiotic recipes with their expensive ingredients and shove them up your yogariffic ass. Talk about tone deaf! Debuting this website the week after a stock market crash shows that Paltrow is about as publicly savvy as Marie Antoinette."

In yesterday's Daily Beast, Megan Hustad picked up on that theme and went to town, albeit more diplomatically. Noting that GOOP suggests we "nourish the inner aspect" (seriously, that's the site's tag line) with $975 Bottega Veneta boots and Tod's cashmere trenches, Hustad writes, "Paltrow amply deserves her style icon status, and the venture may have looked glamorous two years ago, but the shaky economy has swiftly and effectively rendered the ability to look smashing while disembarking from a trans-Atlantic flight somewhat ... less pressing." No kidding.

What's more, the economy has rendered the people most likely to take lifestyle tips from Gwyneth Paltrow incapable of affording Target knock-offs of her spendy recommendations, much less the real things. The problem here is not just that Paltrow seems out of touch with her fellow Americans during a financial crisis, but that she seems to have no clue who her audience is. The L.A. Times reported yesterday that luxury brands are now going over the top in courting consumers so wealthy they've barely noticed the recession (like, say, Gwyneth Paltrow), as opposed to the mass market they've increasingly been targeting over the last several years. The latter segment of the luxury market -- people who will save up for a Balenciaga handbag or a few nights in a five-star hotel -- must be whom Paltrow meant to attract with GOOP, given that her fan base consists primarily of middle-class moviegoers. But those consumers are tightening their once-trendy belts these days, so Paltrow probably would have been better off just starting an e-mail list for her recession-proof pals.

Except, then we wouldn't have GOOP to kick around, and what fun would that be? Before today, I hadn't been back to GOOP since checking it out when it launched, but I have been avidly reading Jezebel's "GOOP Scoop" series and chuckling at Paltrow's noblesse obliviousness. Despite my history of postive feelings toward her, I must admit that watching Paltrow flaunt her cluelessness about both her fan base and the economic meltdown -- and watching an endless stream of writers going, "Is she nuts?" in response -- nourishes my deeply petty inner aspect like little else in these troubled times. Don't ever stop, Gwyn.


Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

MORE FROM Kate Harding

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex