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Gwyneth Paltrow, Business Mogul?

Gwyneth Paltrow has cashed in by selling women access to a better life: hers
“Gwyneth Paltrow represents rarefied nuts and specialty kale”
“Gwyneth Paltrow represents rarefied nuts and specialty kale”Photograph by Carter Smith/Art and Commerce

Sure, a wise person steers away from politics and religion in conversation, but only a real idiot mentions Gwyneth Paltrow. When her name comes up, otherwise happy, well-adjusted women put down their wine, take a deep breath, and lose their minds. Everyone loathes Paltrow. Or loves her. She’s so divisive that in one week in May she was People’s World’s Most Beautiful Woman and Star’s most-hated celebrity. She’s been called a “smug unbearable scold”—and that was by the New York Times. New York magazine has described her as “terrifically funny and chatty.” Time said, “If there’s an opposite of America’s Sweetheart, she’s it.”

So it’s surprising that Paltrow, who declined to comment for this article, is so successful as a lifestyle guru. She sells everything from clothes to recipes to gym memberships, all helping women construct an entire Gwynnie-approved existence. Paltrow’s many businesses are based around a character she’s carefully built. She’s an Everywoman—a working mom who takes her two kids to school, cooks them dinner, and holds down a day job—who just happens to be in movies that have grossed more than $3.9 billion. And she’s married to the lead singer of Coldplay. She’s 40 and yet boasts that her butt isn’t “so bad for a 22-year-old stripper.” She eats a lot of tofu but smokes one cigarette every Saturday night. It’s difficult to make those contrasts feel authentic. For some, as Slate put it, Paltrow “sits at the intersection of populist rage and the outsize expectations placed on working parents.” But there are many who buy it: Her new cookbook, It’s All Good, made its debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, and her website, Goop, has more than 150,000 subscribers.