It's been a rough publicity week for Gwyneth. First, it was announced that Vanity Fair will be running an expose, which will reportedly be the "take down" of the Oscar winning actress. And today, news lines are all a flurry with the diss she received by the queen of a good thing, Martha Stewart herself.
In her interview with Bloomberg TV, she discussed Gwyneth's best-selling cookbook and her innate feel for the lifestyle category, stating, "She wants to be a lifestyle arbiter-fine. Good." But Martha didn't just stop there, and went on to take credit for the entire lifestyle concept:
"I think I started this whole category of lifestyle."
Stop right there. Martha invented the category of lifestyle? By definition, lifestyle just means the way in which a person or group lives. Martha is the one who invented how we live? While she may not be implying such specifics, she is saying she invented the doctrine of how to live a well-crafted life. And she damn well better get credit for it, are you hearing that Gwyneth?
The whole statement seems absurd and quite a reach, and one that definitely didn't need to be said. It's no secret and it's well evidenced by her success, Martha Stewart is a talented and brilliant businesswoman, and a curator of all things tasteful. Although most of her projects are purely aspirational for many women, she makes us feel like her way of life is just within reach. Don't you know you're already loved, Martha?! (Even though your stock plummeted.)
Martha's statements seem completely out of sync when you also consider the demographics that each woman goes after, and the subject matter each of the powerhouses push. Martha: crafts, gardening, baking of extraordinary treats. Gwyneth: fashion, style, home decor, health and wellness, clean eats.
They each speak to a different set of clients, and here's the newsflash: there's plenty or room for both.
Related: 7 ridiculous pieces of parenting advice from Gwyneth Paltrow
Not only did Martha's comments on bloggers completely stun me, especially considering her use of them to market her products, but her need to receive credit for a completely wide open field of marketing and living blew me away.
Why are women doing this to each other?
If anything, Martha's comments in her interview give credibility to the notion that women don't know what to do with power. Worse off, it shows that whether you're a man or a woman, success and power can certainly give you a very inflated sense of self.
I think it also may mean the alternate, that Martha is feeling a bit threatened by this new up-and-coming crop of powerhouse women who are carving out their own unique way to do "lifestyle." Women who have great taste, and the smarts and business savvy to back it up, whether they're celebrity or the average woman writing blog posts in her yoga pants.
While Gwyneth may still be a far cry from approachability and down-home simplicity, she at least has the right to carve out her own niche, as does any woman in this world. And she should be able to do it freely without fear of some dogmatic figure-head accusing her of copycat tactics, or requesting credit for leading the way.
I may not be Gwyneth's biggest fan, but I can say she helped me change the way I look at and think about food, and for that I'm appreciative. I hate to see women pitted against each other like this, especially women with such talent.
C'mon Martha, you're better than this. You have successfully created a billion dollar multifaceted media empire, all with a degree in history, lots of hard work, good taste and a bit of class. You even managed to come back stronger than ever, after a stint in prison. We all know you're a brilliant, talented business woman. You don't need to go around knocking down fellow businesswomen, asking credit for things you have no right to ask for. Let Gwyneth do her thing, and you do yours, because you both do lifestyle in your own unique way that speaks to people differently. There's really plenty of room for you both.
What do you think, does Martha deserve some credit for leading the way in the lifestyle category, or is she feeling a bit threatened and crying sour grapes? I wonder what Gwyneth would have to say about all this?
-By Andrea Howe
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