In case you haven’t yet been hit by debris from the whirling shitstorm of commentary on social media, everybody’s favorite blonde, Gwyneth Paltrow, is participating in the Food Bank NYC Challenge. Participants have a weekly food budget that’s equal to what a recipient of food stamps would receive, and in Gwyneth’s case, that’s $29 for one week’s worth of food for one person.

The goal of the Food Bank NYC Challenge is to raise awareness for the strife that families face on a daily basis when purchasing food items within the limitations of their respective government assistance programs.

This challenge that Gwyneth is voluntarily taking part in is difficult, as anyone who has ever relied on food stamps can attest. Not surprisingly, though, the internet has torn her to shreds over the personal choices she made for herself. The whole ridiculous situation reminds me of my favorite Pulp song, “Common People”: 

I said, “Pretend you’ve got no money.”
She just laughed and said, “Oh, you’re so funny!”
I said “Yeah?
Well I can’t see anyone else smiling in here.”

Her picture wasn’t a proud display of how far she could stretch $29, but just how little it actually buys.

With a $29 weekly food allotment for one person, Gwyneth chose the foods that she wanted to eat–just as we all do every time we go grocery shopping. She’s obviously a vegetarian, so she purchased beans, rice, eggs, tortillas, some veggies, and the seven most famous limes in human history. It’s all pretty reasonable stuff when you think about it. Most importantly, though, she agrees that amount is insufficient to live on. Her picture wasn’t a proud display of how far she could stretch $29, but just how little it actually buys.

Honestly, she should be commended for purchasing such a vitamin and nutrient-rich food stock. And yeah, maybe it’s low on the calorie-count for people in normal society, but look at her overall food habits. Her stomach has probably shriveled down to the size of a very tiny plum after all those juice cleanses she’s always talking about. While I have no qualms about eating every last bite of my favorite meal from my favorite Mexican restaurant–including all of the beans, rice, guacamole salad, and three warm tortillas that come with it–Gwyneth probably couldn’t handle even a quarter of that meal in one go. No shit. I’m like a goddamned Dyson-powered anaconda when I sit down to plate of steak poblano. Just ask my husband.

Even our usual server is in awe of what I can pack away. She looks surprised every time.

Gwyneth-haters have claimed that “real” people on food stamps have to work full-time jobs, but doesn’t she kind of already do that? I’m sure Gwyneth has a housekeeper and some nanny-type help, but given her profession I’m sure she also has a constant stream of meetings and press engagements, photo shoots, advertising commitments and other work-related things that are completely independent of her actual job as an Oscar-winning actress: being on a film set for 14+ hours a day.   

And I know you’re probably thinking, “Alison, that is a cake job. What she does is not real work.” I have been on a movie set. Granted, it was a micro-budget zombie movie, but I’m here to tell you that shit is exhausting in ways you can’t even fathom. You’re out in the elements if you’re filming outdoors; you’re on your feet for hours at a time, take after take after take. If you’re not in the scene, you’re standing still and stifling coughs or farts somewhere off-camera whenever the director yells “QUIET ON THE SET! AND… ACTION!”

if she walked away from her fortune right now… and lived like “the rest of us,” she’d still get shit flung at her… because she’s Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow. No matter what she does, she’ll never “get it right.”

It was absolutely fucking miserable. As I slowly froze to near-death, surrounded by the equally-chilled undead, I began to understand why actors are paid what they’re paid to do what they do.

I’m not trying to justify how Gwyneth lives her life, but the woman is showing empathy for those who live with a very real struggle–which is a hell of a lot more than so many have given consideration to. And yet, we hate on her for it. I’m willing to bet that if she walked away from her fortune right now, lived in some Section 8 housing, got a minimum wage job and lived like “the rest of us,” she’d still get shit flung at her from every direction because she’s Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow. No matter what she does, she’ll never “get it right.”

For just one moment, step into her very fashionable shoes. Imagine that every single thing you do is not only done in full view of the public eye, but it is met with a surge of disdain and negativity from pretty much everyone, all of the time.

The reason? Because you’re you.

That’s a hell of a load to bear, isn’t it?

I give her mad props for getting out of bed every morning when most of us can’t even take a constructive critique without feeling as though someone’s negative opinion of us somehow diminishes our own self worth. The sheer weight of thousands of nasty vibes must be suffocating. I suppose by now her skin is five inches thick and made of impenetrable lead. It would have to be in order for her to get through the day.

Gwyneth Paltrow-hate is not a new phenomenon. Most of us, at one time or another, have inexplicably loathed another woman without actually knowing her. “I don’t like her face,” or “she just rubs me the wrong way,” are common rationalizations that we make regarding those unexplainable feelings we harbor.

We need to stop judging each other and start being more supportive of each other. Every woman’s path is different, and different does not necessarily mean better. Who knows? Gwyneth’s love of colon-cleansing may have resulted in constant diarrhea that explosively launches like a hot liquid missile every time she laughs too hard. We’ll never witness that part of her personal strife though, because no one really talks about industrial-strength butt plugs in polite conversation.

Imagine every thing you do… is met with a surge of disdain and negativity from pretty much everyone, all of the time. The reason? Because you’re you.

It’s the same thing whenever we see a woman wearing dressy clothing with sky-high heels on her feet. We immediately ask ourselves, “Why is she so dressed up to go to Walmart? Who in the hell is she trying to impress here?” We just assume she’s trying to appear “better” than the rest of us. In her version of reality, though – the one we don’t see – she works in an office that has a strict dress code and she stopped for light bulbs and bananas after work because once those soul-sucking shoes come off at home, mama ain’t going nowhere for nobody.

Our competitive instincts unfairly serve as judge, jury, and executioner in the blink of an un-mascaraed eye, every day. And man, that shit’s gotta stop. Live and let live. We’re all women, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can. Maybe vagina steaming feels really good. Can’t really knock it until you’ve tried it, right?

Seriously, though–skip the vapo rub.

And good grief, Internet–shut up about the fucking limes, already! Gwyneth Paltrow purchased seven limes and there are seven days in a week. I’m not Sherlock Holmes or anything, but maybe she just enjoys a slice of fresh lime in her water. I like slices of cucumber in mine. Perhaps you like lemon in yours.

We’re not so different from each other, after all.


A lover of lapsang souchong tea, unnaturally-colored hair, and Oxford commas, Alison’s stories are written with a signature blend of humor and brutal honesty. She often jokes that she became a writer so she could speak to the masses without actually having to TALK to them face to face, but words are indeed her greatest strength. She revels in weaving them together to tell an entertaining story, rouse laughter, offer reassurance, provide sympathy, or just to give the world a piece of her mind.


  1. Ha!!! I don’t usually like bathroom humor but I cannot stop picturing your vivid imagery as a result of her love of colon cleanses. I will stay out of her fashionable shoes, thank you!

    • I know right — after I wrote that line I thought, “Hmm… is this mental imagery a little *too* much?”

      Nah. 😉

  2. Words can’t tell you how much I love this. So funny, and such a good point. Live and let live, y’all. And I love limes. Perhaps I’ll try a slice in my water, and raise a glass to Gweny for putting it out there, and for you for saying it like it is.

  3. YES! This. For real I saw 7 limes and all those greens and thought ok she is like my friend who uses the fresh squeezed lemon on her salads instead of dressing as a flavour. Or maybe a pesto…or yes slices of limes in her water. Oh and I thought ok so she will get to the end of that food and learn like we all do, just how hard it is to live on that!! Which is really the point, right?

  4. I don’t hate her. I just think she’s a twit, based entirely on the foolish things she’s said and done recently. I don’t watch much TV and wouldn’t know her if I saw her honestly.

    I did read a very good article that broke down the calories and so on of what she bought, and pointed out why it was completely inadequate.

    I think she meant well. I think she may have even learned something from her experiment. I don’t, however, think she has a clue about how someone who actually depends on foodstamps lives, or, frankly, how anyone who’s not a super star who makes a ridiculous amount of money, lives.

    But you’re right on one point- she works for her money. She lives her life. And she deserves to enjoy what she does for a living and the benefits she reaps from that without being ragged on just for being herself.

    • You make a great point – that she has no clue how someone else (who isn’t rich and has never wanted for anything) truly lives. I guess that’s true for all of us, really — I can’t fathom the way that she lives, either. But it’s the empathy that’s important, I think; like you said, she meant well.

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