Mattel, the maker of Barbie, recently announced a new line of body types for its dolls. Adding curvy, petite, and tall versions of the hollow-eyed minx, the decision by the 71-year-old toy company was a sure sign that the tide is turning (oh so goddamn SLOWLY) away from the idea of a perfect female form.
So. Since we’ve got that problem all sewn up, let’s take a look at what else the universe has in its bag o’ tricks for the ladyfolk. [Shuffles hand around in duffel bag] Reproductive rights? Nah, those are pretty much gone anyway. Equal pay? Bo-ring. Hillary yay or Hillary nay? I just can’t right now. Ooh, here’s a fun one: life shaming! Let’s dig in, shall we?
First, a definition. Life shaming is the practice of tacitly scolding women for their habits by touting the purity of your own. Its progenitor is of course Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress-turned-lifestyle guru who espouses the virtues of vagina-steaming, lemon-pepper-water cleanses, and raw almonds. You may remember her failed attempt last year to live on the amount of food SNAP participants receive in a week. It was flawed on multiple levels (that $29 is only a supplement, for instance), but perhaps its most glaring sin was the characteristic that shapes every prominent life shaming incident: cluelessness. A complete and utter lack of sense as to how your actions could be perceived by the outside world.
Now granted, this is a tricky line for women to walk (aren’t they all). The current trend of feminist thought centers largely around *not* caring what others think. Or as many prefer to call it, giving no fucks. I myself am a big fan of this philosophy – to an extent. At the end of the day, whatever the hell Gwyneth wants to do to her vagina is her damn business. The problem is that she doesn’t view it that way. Her life is going so well because of all these tips and tricks, that she must share it with the world. The wheat paste I had for dinner has made my skin dewy and soft! I must spread the word!
Thing is, hon, it’s not the wheat paste. It’s the fact that your net worth is $140 million. Sit with that a minute. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. And that estimate is two years old. Her skin is perfect and her hair shiny and her vagina steamed because she has inordinate amounts of time and resources to devote to such things. She has boundless energy because she didn’t sit hunched over a computer screen all day or clean a house or mow a lawn or wait tables or spend 8 hours on her feet selling organic hemp underwear to, well, people like Gwyneth. And the added bonus is that she was raised in wealth as well, so literally has no frame of reference for what it’s like to be a regular human being with credit card debt.
Rants against Gwyneth are old-hat. What prompted this post was the resurrection of an article from May of last year. Gwyneth is no longer a singular case. Gwyneth has spawned. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Amanda Chantal Bacon. Dubbing herself a “sustainable lifestyle leader and passionate food educator,” Ms. Bacon is the founder of Hollywood juice bar Moon Juice. Not content to simply own a restaurant, she professes Moon Juice to be “a healing force, an etheric potion, a cosmic beacon for those seeking out beauty, wellness and longevity.” And here I thought I just wanted a smoothie.
The food diary she chronicled for Elle magazine last year is so over-the-top ridiculous, it seems written by a McSweeney’s blogger. Selected ingredients of her diet include: Shilajit resin, vanilla mushroom protein, sun-cured olives, heart tonic, and Brain Dust (caps hers). I posted the article on Facebook this morning and the comments are better than anything I could dream up.
“Was there any food in those pictures? Looked like glasses of pee and grass clippings.”
“Maybe that diet is why you can literally see through her in that photo.”
“I can’t stop thinking of the cultured sea vegetables. So she grows seaweed in a tank and sells it to people?”
“Fuck! I haven’t been activating my almonds!”
If this is the way Ms. Bacon (HA) wants to live, the gods bless her. Sit in your backyard yurt – because you just *know* she has one – and drink silver needle tea to your heart’s content. Just know that you are living a life very few humans can experience. Though I couldn’t easily find her net worth, I did discover that she had to expand from her “love shack in Venice” to a Frank Gehry-renovated home in LA once her business took off. So I’m guessing she ain’t hurting for cash.
The cluelessness of the rich white woman does none of us a favor. It’s just another version of shaming that makes many women question their self-worth. I guaran-damn-tee you that there’s a decent swath of Elle readers who saw that Amanda’s 3 year old’s favorite restaurant was a pricey Japanese spot and thought, “I’m doing it wrong. Those chicken nuggets I fed them last night can only result in a life of uneducated ennui. Wheatgrass for all!”
The very last thing women need right now are ‘lifestyle educators.’ Are you alive? Are your children? Then you’re doing just fine. Don’t allow people on gilded thrones to convince you otherwise.
One of my closest friends is a vegan yogi who is much pickier about food than I am. Last week, she sent me Whataburger coupons in the mail. Because she knew I’d love and use them. Though I know she disagrees with how I eat, she also knows what makes me happy. You can hold your own ideals close without shaming others.
P.S. I heat up a slice of American cheese in a tortilla and eat the hell out of it. Suck it, life shamers.