News Analysis

Saturday 30 August 2014

Celebs can't feel superior unless we ordinary women feel inferior

Aisling O'Connor

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 03: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (earring detail) attends the 'Contagion' premiere during the 68th Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Cinema on September 3, 2011 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)  
Date created:  03 Sep 2011
Gwyneth Paltrow’s new year detox diet has been described as planned starvation. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain

THE red carpet awards season is in full swing as the 2014 Academy Award nominations bestow graces on the likes of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong'o, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey.

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After their success at the Golden Globes, the U2 boys are once again a headline act with an Oscar nomination for their song 'Ordinary Love' from the Nelson Mandela biopic 'Long Walk to Freedom'.

And the week's entertainment buzz doesn't stop there.

Though the Oscar is the ultimate accolade on the mantelpiece, lesser golden statuettes are up for grabs at this weekend's Screen Actors Guild Awards that honours the stars of both big and small screens.

Our ancestors might have looked to the stars for guidance, but we have swapped the night skies for the red carpets, gossip mags, and celebrity self-help bibles.

But if the icons of the entertainment industry are just mere mortals like you and me, why do we want to be guided and inspired by them?

And what's in it for them, besides the money?

Queen of projected perfection Gwyneth Paltrow has built an empire based on her fame as an Academy Award winner and ex-girlfriend of Brad Pitt.

With three healthy eating cookbooks under her belt, Gwyneth's 'Goop' lifestyle website fascinates and irritates in equal measures.

From hammering home the evils of dairy and wheat, to recommending luxury organic cotton t-shirts -- the cost of which would pay the January electricity bill of an average household -- she really believes that we want nothing more than to be like her.

On release of her recent new year detox diet, Gwyn encouraged us to cleanse our bodies with a regime best described as a lean week at a Victorian poor house -- a diet mostly consisting of hot water with lemon and a couple of small vegan meals. Top nutritionist Dr Fred Pescatore told 'Radar Online' that she was basically advocating planned starvation.

Lifestyle maven, indeed.

Taking a leaf or 10 out of Paltrow's bibliography is fellow Hollywood golden girl Cameron Diaz, with her debut publication 'The Body Book' -- released just in time for the annual January health kick and the awards season. Diaz's self-help manual offers advice on loving yourself inside and out, while also confessing to her star-struck readers that she didn't always look after herself.

But no matter how many tiny thumbnails of 'real' people frame the book's Cameron-clad cover, 'bikini sideburns' are no salvation from a negative body image.

And although Jessica Alba released 'The Honest Life' last year, we should face the fact that we just want to name drop her recipes.

Can't your own mother tell you that sticking a chicken to roast in the oven while you bath the children is good time management?

Kim Kardashian was probably justified in throwing her body and high-profile name at the Atkins diet, showing all those horrid fat shamers that she was just pregnant after all.

Nevertheless, your average new mother doesn't have the resources for personal training sessions, private chefs and nannies.

SHE needs to look neither red carpet -- nor magazine cover-ready in a hurry -- but feels tremendous pressure to conform to Kim's example all the same.

In the forthcoming book, 'Everyone Wants To Be Me Or Do Me', authors and pop-culture commentators Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez compare Hollywood stars and starlets to 'Peter Pan' fairy Tinker Bell -- "they tend to fade away if you don't clap hard enough".

They muse that the hawked life philosophies of the glitterati are not really aimed at transforming us humble souls into special people -- but are in actual fact part of an ongoing effort to prove to us that the stars themselves are special and deserving of our everlasting devotion.

By putting celebrities on a pedestal, we are knocking our own self-esteem.

The gospels according to Gwyneth, Cameron et al dictate that they are better than you -- that you are a lesser being for not having a rocking beach bod, or an all-organic dinner party menu.

For one cannot really feel superior if nobody feels inferior.

Irish Independent

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