I type this as I sit criss-cross-apple-sauce at my desk at home, staring at a Greek yogurt that promises me happiness like the ladies in the commercials but I know I have a big block of cheese in the fridge that I know will actually make me smile.
I don't know why I opened with that. I guess it felt appropriate as I lead into my actual topic: Gwyneth Paltrow. And not necessarily Gwyneth the person, but Gwyneth the phenomenon. I'll raise my hand along with the other millennial women who have been sucked into the lifestyle meets scary cosmetic treatment fandom that is goop. I get the monthly newsletter assuring me that tampons are indeed toxic (maybe?) and that if I buy $24 Italian thongs I will somehow morph into Gisele overnight. However, I don't buy it. And even though my head says, "don't buy it," my heart says, "but Gwyneth." Ya know?
Gwyneth, Beyonce, Jennifer-- I liken them into one lump group called 'HOW?!' How is her hair soo smooth? How is she able to do vinyasa yoga and not want to eat taquitos afterward? How can I be like her? And I think this is a very relatable topic though none of us will ever want to confront it individually. I think that as a 20-something woman growing up in this world right now, there are a lot of things that we are expected to do (go to college, get a job, get married, make babies), and those things are communicated to us every day, sometimes all at once (cue anxiety attack). However, I think the things that aren't necessarily drilled into our head by our parents or friends or significant others, but by ourselves, is even more anxiety-inducing.
For instance, I once tried a juicing diet that consisted of weird herbs and lemon juice. You mix it up, down it, and then go to the bathroom for basically the rest of your life. Why? Because Reese Witherspoon does it and she effing glows. Me? Not so glowy. And there's a sort of sexiness to the work put in to achieve said glow. Like, "I nearly killed myself so that my skin looks like I've never seen a toxin, look at me!" It's addicting. And then it's not. You fall off the wagon, get mad at yourself, sulk, and promise yourself to do better. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
This is not to say that some rituals aren't awesome for you and that starting to spiralize your zucchini because Jennifer Aniston does it is bad. There are always situations in which we can tend to ourselves better-- eat better, sleep more, laugh a lot. And those are great and I'm glad that I've found a few things in between my goop newsletters that I am looking forward to trying and enjoying. I think the separation comes when you feel like an impostor in your own body. Can they tell that I don't like spirulina? Do they know this is my first time to boot camp? And I think if we congregated around those questions and ideals then we'd actually have a community of women that wouldn't care that this is your first boot camp, and they don't know what spirulina is, either. Because sometimes 'fake it until you make it' is lonely, and projecting confidence is hard. What's harder is thinking that you're the only one that eats Hot Cheetos in bed or doesn't go to the trendy cycling class every week because #WorkoutWednesday.
In summation. how does she do it? Probably with a team of highly-trained professionals. Probably with a team of fellow ladies looking for support, trying a new hairstyle, asking for their first raise. Probably with a lot of help.
Call to action: Ask your fellow ladies how they're doing. Empathize with their lack of experience in the exercise class or first boardroom meeting. Tell a secret of your own. Engage in a conversation that has nothing to do with fake chatter to pass the time. Because god-only-knows we are all we've got.