My Complicated Relationship With Gwyneth Paltrow


Gwyneth Paltrow's Instagram

Gwyneth Paltrow represents a change in an iconic character from my childhood.

Alayna Reddick, Editor

When Gwyneth Paltrow walked the red carpet for the 2020 Golden Globes, all I could think was “Oh, Gwyneth.” While many thought the see-through, brown “dress” was a reinvention of the naked look popular in the early 2000s, all the dress reminded me of was my unfounded, yet intense, distaste for Gwyneth.

It all started in 2008, when the first Iron Man movie took to theaters. Despite only being six, the moment Paltrow appeared as Pepper Potts is still a vivid memory in my mind. Something about the dull blonde hair and bangs did not satisfy what I had wanted for this iconic character. What I had imagined as Pepper Potts came from the piles of comic books that lined the walls of a spare room in my house. My dad introduced me to these comics as a Saturday morning ritual, something that I saw as perfection. In my young mind, the misrepresentation of Pepper Potts tainted these tender moments. 

Most of the time I was able to avoid my aversion to Gwyneth, but every now and again she would make the news for a new interesting reason. When Goop, Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, became famous for all the wrong reasons, my mind instantly blamed it on the fact that it was Gwyneth. The sketchy gimmick products like “The Mother Load” vitamins, which are $90 for a one month supply, are a perfect representation of Goop. The brand is a series of well-marketed products with a high price tag endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow, the queen of millennial-style beauty and wellness. 

Even as a high school student I am exposed to the character that is Gwyneth Paltrow. When studying the work of Jane Austen I watched the movie Emma, a film in which Paltrow plays the female heroine. Once again my irrational hatred led me to focus on that fact, rather than the movie itself. It was more of a “Here we go again” every time she was on screen, rather than “What an amazing performance.” Although my six year old self is still angry about Paltrow’s performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, her performance as Emma is a refreshing portrayal of a classic Austen heroine. Paltrow’s wit truly shows through in this character, even when Emma is meant to be a slightly delirious and oblivious character.

I recognize fully that my feelings toward Gwyneth Paltrow come without foundation. The reality is that her performance in Emma was memorable, Goop is an example of amazing marketing tactics, and she is quite the philanthropist, being on the board of organizations like the Robin Hood Foundation which helps to alleviate poverty in New York City. Even though Paltrow has redeeming qualities, she will never be the Pepper Potts my young heart hoped for.