TURNING 40 ain't easy. An uncomfortable rite of passage for most, many spend the days, weeks and months preceding the looming milestone examining their achievements, as well as their fine lines. It doesn't help that as a society we have become obsessed with the pursuit of retaining our youth -- glorifying those who 'look 10 years younger'.
Gwyneth Paltrow is a woman who has the genes and the means to press pause on ageing. Money, family ties and determination have gone a long way to transforming the 'Shakespeare In Love' star into a Renaissance woman.
In an appearance on a Spanish TV show this week, promoting her campaign for Boss Nuit Pour Femme fragrance, Mrs Coldplay treated audiences to a very chic circus act. Gwyneth dazzled in a Hugo Boss Orange mini-dress and black suede Mugler stilettos, singing and playing guitar live and cooking a Spanish 'tortilla' omelette for the cameras.
The idea of 'having it all' has become the Holy Grail of the modern woman: career, family, rolling personal development roster -- and a young-looking face and body to boot. Does this ostentatious display of skill, talent and beauty inspire us civilians to sign up for a slew of evening classes and hit the treadmill -- or reach for the all-in-one pyjamas and the Butler's chocolates? The 40-year-old A-lister's example could light a fire under women entering the middle ages -- or make them feel like flabby, wrinkling underachievers.
Gwyneth's post-Oscar life is coloured with super-sized career and personal goals. She's gotten hitched to a rock star, been busy raising her children Moses and Apple and created an incredible home in London. . . all the while staying slim on a strict macrobiotic diet and exercise regime developed with the celebrity personal trainer, Tracey Anderson.
In entertainment, she's had varying roles in artsy and family-friendly movies -- such as 'The Royal Tenenbaums' and ' Iron Man' -- and a foray into music in the Oscar-nominated movie 'Country Strong' and a singing and dancing part on TV show ' Glee'.
A face of Hugo Boss and Estee Lauder, Gwyneth is a fashion icon and collaborative designer. She has written a best-selling cookbook, 'My Father's Daughter: Delicious, Easy Recipes Celebrating Family and Togetherness', and Goop.com, Paltrow's fashion and lifestyle website, promises "a wealth of knowledge and an indispensable resource for all who love to make, go, get, do, be and see".
Padding her outstanding list of achievements and blessings is a list of ex-boyfriends that includes Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck; she boasts Jay-Z as her best friend and Stephen Spielberg as her godfather.
Highly active in politics, she most recently hosted a glittering fundraiser in London for President Obama's re-election campaign.
Ladies, if you want to follow this woman's lead you're going to need a lot of energy and luck.
GRANTED, the Oscar-winner has benefited from a family of origin that is well established in Hollywood -- her mother is ' Buffy the Vampire Slayer' actress Blythe Tanner and her late father Bruce Paltrow was a director and the producer of 1980s TV hit 'St Elsewhere'. With so much going for her in terms of opportunity and all-American good looks, although she was set up to be a winner, the thought of losing must have its pressures.
Is Gwyneth just like the rest of but on a higher pay scale?
We all spend our lives trying to live up to and exceed expectations of our familial and socio-economic background.
On the surface, Paltrow has the perfect life -- an ideal home, Grammy-winning hubby, gorgeous quirkily named blonde children and a career, face and body to die for -- but one is all too aware of how difficult perfection is to maintain.
If the average woman is putting pressure on herself to balance career, kids and complexion, imagine adding brand endorsements and a life in the public eye on top of all that. How many of us would swap what we've got for a life spent trying to stop time's clock on the body and remain relevant as a celebrity?
Just weeks after her 40th birthday, the nickname 'Supergoop' -- coined after she wore a white Tom Ford cape to the 2012 Oscars -- is suited to a modern Renaissance woman who has plenty to boast about and to be thankful for.
Whether she inspires or intimidates could be determined by how literally one interprets her successes. Let's just perfect that gourmet omelette first, shall we?