Gwyneth, the golden girl we love to hate

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I hated Gwyneth Paltrow long before it was cool to do so. Pre-GOOP, pre-being friends with Jay-Z and Beyonce, pre-kids with funny names, pre-the-Internet-making-it-easy-for-everybody-and-her-mom-to-broadcast-her-feelings-instantly, the pudgy short brown-haired Midwesternness of me just reacted strongly against this blond, thin-lipped, smirking, famous-parented, lanky actress. She was just easy to dislike: I rejoiced when Brad Pitt received her pretty head in a box at the end of "Se7en." However, grudgingly, I had to admit I liked her in more movies than I would have cared to ("Sliding Doors," "Shakespeare in Love," "Emma," "The Royal Tennenbaums") and also had to admit that she did a pretty good job whenever she hosted "SNL." I would probably not be a Gwyneth fan, but maybe she wasn't all evil. Eventually, my dislike of Paltrow diminished when it became basically popular to hate her as she launched her lifestyle brand, became more famous for having a great body than for being in great movies, started singing, and did obnoxious stuff like appear in those "I Am African" ads. I didn't need to pile on to an already-popular sentiment, and I didn't take Paltrow's GOOPiness as personally as some other people did. I don't know how her proclaiming her love for hundred-dollar t-shirts and cooking trips to Spain was much worse than the way every single actress or socialite talks about how she just "can't live without" slathering La Mer lotion on everything (only $435 for a 3.4 oz container!). All professional actors and models and socialites live in a bubble and you're kidding yourself if you think "Not Jennifer Lawrence" or "Not Meryl Streep!" Yes, celebrities--they're not like us at all.

We waffle all the time on the love-hate thing when it comes to celebs, and I think we make ourselves feel better for loving some celebrities while deciding that we hate others. Love: Beyonce, Sandra Bullock, Lupita Nyong'o, Emma Watson. Hate: Kim Kardashian, Kristen Stewart, Katherine Heigl, Scarlett Johannson. Some have swung both ways. Gwyneth is one of those female celebs who was initially offered up to us by Vanity Fair and Hollywood in general as someone we'd adore--look at her, in her pretty pink dress, winning the Oscar! Isn't she perfect? But like with Anne Hathaway (boo! hiss! pretentious!) or Taylor Swift (tries too hard! airs dirty laundry!), popular opinion swung the other way. We don't always like being told who we're gonna like, especially when it's a pretty lady who doesn't, on the outside anyway, seem to have a lot of problems and hasn't made the right calculated moves of showing us how real and earthy and just-like-us she is. Ew--she's too perfect and double-ew at her trying to act like she's got problems. Bitch.

So anyway, I feel bad for Gwyneth because even though I haven't read the gossip yet, I'm sure there are already a ton of blogs about people expressing their satisfaction over her split with Chris Martin. That's what she deserves, isn't it, for rubbing her perfect life in our faces and forcing us all to eat macrobiotic cupcakes and be all British and do Tracy Anderson workouts? I mean, I am not literally crying for her (if anything, I am just surprised this hasn't happened earlier. Like some other famous couples I sort of assumed they were broken up already.) But if getting older has taught me anything, it's that getting older is hard and confusing , especially when you think you've finally figured out how to successfully be a young woman only to realize you're not such a young woman anymore (and I'm not even famous!) I don't think Gwyneth's career path is necessarily one that's didactic or borne of superiority: I think she's just trying to figure out what the hell she's supposed to do or be, because she's definitely not a young starlet we all can't get enough of. It's hard enough to age and see your popularity shift in such a public way, and now she's dealing with a crumbling relationship that goes along with everyone's opinions on how she handled it (which may be silly but I feel like nobody comes out of a dying relationship looking or feeling great.)

So now it's come to this. I...feel sympathy for Gywneth Paltrow? Once my most mortal celebrity enemy? Who knew. Maybe I'm getting all goopy as I get older.