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On “Conscious Uncoupling”

2014 March 27


Well, “conscious uncoupling” was certainly the catchphrase of the week.

As expected, even the way Gwyneth Paltrow decided to announce the break up of her marriage was dissected and over-analyzed and people quickly divided into their respective “love her” or “hate her” camps. I don’t know. Maybe I am just too sensitive, but the energy that people put into hating public figures, the lengths they go to to share their negative opinions, the cruel words that people put out there so easily to mock another person and to attack their lifestyle choices…

It’s all puzzling to me.

As I’ve said before, of course not everyone is going to like Gwyneth Paltrow. Or any other public figure, for that matter. Clearly she is polarizing and her likes, dislikes and opinions may not mesh with yours. That’s all fine. But do we need to jump so quickly on the hate bandwagon as a result?

There are plenty of public (and private, for that matter) figures I don’t respect or relate to, but I’d rather use my voice to support the ones I do admire rather than spend my energy putting down the ones I don’t. Especially women. Especially women whose families are going through a major transition such as this one.

This piece in the New York Post probably disappointed me the most: “A Working Mom’s Open Letter to Gwyneth Paltrow.” Going after her from a mother’s perspective? Ridiculing every comment she has ever made about parenting, the work/life balance, how she makes her money? Why? What relevance could that possibly have to this story? And I am willing to bet the writer is also an intelligent woman who denounces the “mommy wars” every chance she gets…ironic.

Here’s the thing: why did they choose to announce their break up in Goop? Because that way, they would have some control over the messaging of the announcement instead of letting an outside media source do it based on a canned, impersonal statement from a publicist. Because then everyone would have called her canned and impersonal… Why announce it at all? Because if they didn’t, someone else eventually would have. And they wouldn’t have been able to fly their kids to the Bahamas immediately to avoid the aftermath. Or maybe one (or both) of them actually want to move on with their lives and couldn’t do that without a proper, public announcement. Why announce it as a “conscious uncoupling”? Who knows. For the same reason she likes cupping. It’s a personal choice of words that reflects them and their relationship and their break up. If people don’t like it, they should stop reading about it. And certainly stop talking about it.

Sensitive, I told you.

And not just because this is a Gwyneth Paltrow story. Because this is a story about public shaming and ridicule, a story about women rallying against their fellow woman, and a story about a family that is breaking up after 10+ years…a reality that can’t be easy, even for those living a surreal life.

I read a lot of stories on this topic this week – some from the “love her” camp, most from the “hate her” camp. A lot of it, from my perspective, rooted in not much more than negativity, hatred, jealousy and pettiness. Signs of our society that make me sad. That should make all of us a little sad.

Yes, clearly I may be biased.

But I am also a wife, married for almost ten years. And a mother to two. And a woman.

And I am very conscious of what all of that means.

*image above via Goop’s Instagram

16 Responses
  1. stella permalink
    March 27, 2014

    Amen sister. She just can’t win in the eyes of her haters – even during a truly sad time in her life. I just don’t get it and I would say that it is a reflection of how some women feel about themselves. Where is the compassion???

  2. March 27, 2014

    Well said!

  3. Jennifer permalink
    March 27, 2014

    I’ve loved Gwyneth since I was a teenager, and was honestly very surprised when I found out people don’t like her. What’s not to like? I’m happy that she can sing, dance, act, cook, etc. We all should be striving to use our talents! Great post – let’s all focus on the positive!

  4. March 28, 2014

    Thank you so much for this article.

    “There are plenty of public (and private, for that matter) figures I don’t respect or relate to, but I’d rather use my voice to support the ones I do admire rather than spend my energy putting down the ones I don’t.”

    Very well said.

  5. Emily permalink
    March 28, 2014

    Wow! A-MAZING! You just said everything there. Well done sister 🙂

  6. Lillian Poole permalink
    March 28, 2014

    Nothing but love for you Gwyneth

  7. Kaly permalink
    March 28, 2014

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was avoiding all the media because I actually thought the announcement was exactly what it should be and I didn’t want to be exposed to all the hating. And then a friend sent me the NY Post article as a joke because she knows I’m a gp fan and can’t stand women trashing other women. As I was reading it, I just felt so bad for gp. She seriously can’t do anything without being attacked and no matter how much money she has in the bank or people she has on staff, she is still just a person, a woman, a mother, trying to make her way in this world. And the article wasn’t even funny. It was just mean. I’ve read some really funny gp spoofs and can appreciate them.

    I think what is happening is that she makes people very uncomfortable because she is trying to be true to herself. She isn’t scripted and handled the way we’re used to our celebrities being. She isn’t the girl next door that we’ve been trained to know and love. People don’t know how to relate to her and her version of authenticity and conscious way of living. They get stuck on, Well sure that’s easy for you, you’re a celebrity. They miss the intention and focus solely on the price tag. They miss the person and focus solely on one thing they said.

    The media machine does not want us to live consciously. They want us to tune out and keep lapping up the garbage they are spewing out. And so anything that threatens that, they have to rally the haters and tear it down. And as long as gp keeps putting herself out there in a real way, they’ll keep coming after her.

  8. March 28, 2014

    Hi Raluca, I was also very disappointed by that open letter. And by “disappointed,” I mean p#$sed.

    A lot of GP’s sentiments were taken a bit out of context by Mackenzie. GP was comparing HER OWN life as an office mom to HER OWN life on set, not everyone else’s lives. I second everything you said about the letter writer contributing to the whole mommy wars thing. Also, I cannot fathom having a week that goes like this: on Monday I make one of the worst announcements of my life: my family is crumbling and just isn’t going to make it despite making every last effort available to me. On Thursday some random person writes an open letter to the New York Post mocking me, hating on me and rallying other moms to do the same. The sarcasm and just sheer meanness of that letter was just very low. Lastly “Mackenzie” makes being a mom sound like a hardship which might be the worst part of all.
    Thanks for posting this & being so rational & awesome, per usual.

  9. Sara no h. permalink
    March 28, 2014

    Dead on. Awesome post.

  10. March 28, 2014

    I’ve been surprised by how much my mind has been occupied by the announcement of their separation. Maybe because, in a (very) small snapshot, I can relate to her: married nearly ten years, young kiddos, suffered the loss of a baby. I just feel so badly for all of them.
    Despite the edited,'”final cut” impressions we show of our lives on social media, etc, she admitted “nothing is as perfect as it appears.” Yet, I still felt they somehow had this strong thing going on that the media, haters, etc couldn’t touch.
    I’ll admit, I’ve gobbled up everything – good and bad- I could read about them this week, and it’s only left me feeling like maybe we’ve lost something in the celebrity world worth aspiring to: a “normal” nuclear family just trying to wade through the waters.

  11. Kelly permalink
    March 28, 2014

    Well said. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  12. March 31, 2014

    I love this post. I actually have a very similar post going up tomorrow called, Leave Gwynnie Alone (which I wrote yesterday, I swear). I’ll link to this, you’re much more articulate than I am.

  13. Susanne permalink
    March 31, 2014


  14. April 7, 2014

    I have learned to hold my tongue (or typing fingers) a moment or two long than I might think that I need to, because one thing time teaches is that we don’t have it all figured out, also smugness is a hideous trait.

    The thing I see in people judgement of celebrities, it reveals a bit about their fairness. Social media has brought about a kind of free pass in the minds of some—oh, she’s a celebrity or, oh, I’m just kidding.

    Your post is beautiful and compassionate.

    Each time I see a tragic headline about a celebrity, my breath catches and I think, “Maybe this time, maybe this time they’ll let the person be,” but they never do. Perspectives like your on the uncoupling are soft ribbons of hope amid so many jagged, chards of cynicism. Thank you.

  15. April 26, 2014

    I never comment on anything but this is the best thing that I have read on this subjectlike a light in the storm

    • WWGD permalink*
      April 27, 2014

      Thank you, Katherine. Appreciate your kind words! xx

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