Content Warning: This article talks in depth about eating disorders, body dysmorphia, fatphobia, and weight loss culture

Last week, actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow was featured on The Art of Being Well, a podcast run by “functional medicine expert” Will Cole all about the “wellness journey”. While I am not exceptionally familiar with Cole’s work, having only listened to Paltrow’s episode, it does appear that Cole’s brand aligns rather closely with Goop. Not only do both have a focus on physical wellbeing and the spiritual journey that accompanies that, but Cole’s book is being published by Goop Press and Paltrow herself admits to regularly listening to his pod.

Paltrow has been promoting her Goop brand since 2008. So what, then, made people so shocked by her March 13th interview? An approximately one minute clip from the pod has gone viral where Paltrow talks about her “wellness routine”, which includes eating a Paleo diet and drinking only “bone broth for lunch a lot of the days”. It doesn’t take much to realize that what Paltrow is explaining is an extremely restrictive diet. It didn’t take long for the internet to circulate the clip alongside allegations of promoting eating disorders and toxic diet culture.

While the diet that Paltrow consumes is far from healthy, and I’m grateful that young people have enough knowledge to recognize this, there is something about the lack of nuance in these critiques that makes me uncomfortable. Yes, Paltrow is sharing a disordered diet under the guise of wellness, but she is also sharing her own diet which she feels is making her well. While Paltrow’s current round of Goop promotion is encouraging disordered eating, she is just as much a victim of this culture as she is a perpetrator.

The History of Celebrity Wellness

Gwyneth Paltrow, daughter of director Bruce Paltrow, got her start acting in the 90s, where she starred in increasingly high profile roles, ultimately winning an Academy Award for her role in Shakespeare in Love in 1999. This places her in the same era of celebrity as Kate Winslet, who was fat shamed during her time on Titanic5 and other celebrities doing their best to fit into the “heroine chic” aesthetic. Throughout the most formative years of Paltrow’s life, being larger than a size 2 meant an end to your career.

When Paltrow herself played an obese character (in a fat suit) for Shallow Hal, she stated that while in the suit, “It was so sad. It was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese. I felt humiliated.”2 This is not to lessen the impact of Paltrow’s words on people who are not incredibly thin. Obviously, this had devastating impacts for countless Millennials, with viral tweets hinting at the fact that nearly everyone growing up in that time has struggled with an eating disorder of their own4.

Even now, being fat—or simply not rail thin—in Hollywood means facing widespread vitriol. Selena Gomez, one of the most beloved and most followed female celebrities, was shamed for gaining weight when she was, in fact, combating Lupus9. Heroine chic, the style defined by being incredibly underweight due to living primarily off of heroine rather than food, came about directly because of the way this look was praised while looking any other way was ridiculed.

What celebrities share about their eating habits has varied over time, but it has always been suspect, based on the trends of the day.

Reese Witherspoon once claimed she only ate baby food for meals.

Katy Perry swaps one meal a day for mushrooms.

Not too long ago, Gwyneth Paltrow herself claimed she drank “moon dust” for meals.3

Kate Moss said proudly “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.7

Alicia Silverstone was fat shamed for years before she ultimately went vegan and sold that as the ultimate wellness technique.6

Jennifer Lawrence took another route, discussing at length the amount of pizza and junk food she would eat while staying incredibly thin. Many other celebrities took a similar route, and some have even come out now to state that while they were publicly talking at length about junk food, in private they were barely eating anything at all.

A Feeling of Control

What stood out most to me in the Paltrow interview were the quotes that did not go viral. Paltrow was a woman pushing a brand, yes, but she is also a woman showing clear signs of disordered eating, ones that nobody close to her appears to be pointing out. We have reached a point as a society where young people are able to point to a diet and say “this is not healthy”, but not one where we are able to point to signs and say “you are not doing okay”.

An increased awareness on eating disorders and a shift away from the pro-anorexia mindset that populated Tumblr in the early 2000s is undeniably positive. What would make a more concrete difference is if we were able to recognize the difference between someone promoting a lifestyle without participating in it, and someone sharing a pattern that they have fully given into.

When asked about the film industry, Paltrow said that “when I was… in it… i feel like, that kind of 90s, 2000s, was the end of the golden era of movies”. She noted that #MeToo has changed the industry for the better, but she spoke with longing of the 90s era, the one where she needed to be a 00 or not have a job. She glamorizes this era of her life, and so it makes sense that she wouldn’t have given up the habits that served her then, even if they’re at the expense of her ultimate wellbeing.

Paltrow shares that while she gets criticism for her wellness brand, she feels that what she is doing is for the “betterment of women”. In fact, when asked about the one food she would eat forever if she could, the answer is pizza, topped with “all the things I’m not allowed” to have. This is a woman who has been told her whole life that she has to stay skinny, and has internalized that to such an extent that there are foods she cannot eat, and she believes that it’s to the betterment of other women for them to not eat these things too.

The System vs Individuals

I do not know if there is a right answer between whether we should have empathy for Gwyneth Paltrow and the clear way she is suffering. She is ultimately impacting an incredibly large number of vulnerable people through her Goop brand, and she deserves to be held accountable for that. The discourse surrounding this interview is remarkable just because it existed at all. Even 5-10 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen anyone bat an eye at a celebrity who claimed drinking bone broth as a meal was in the name of “wellness”.

She took an industry that was hurting her and believed in it so completely that she ultimately became a tool in the preservation of disordered eating culture, but she was a victim first. Paltrow fell prey to systemic pressures which caused her to internalize disordered eating as a tool that benefits women. Calling Paltrow out for this is a first step, but if we fail to properly understand and hold accountable the external forces that created who Paltrow is today, we are failing to prevent other women from falling down the same path.


Being listed as a source does not imply agreement!


  1. The Art of Being Well: Gwyneth Paltrow: Her Wellness Protocol For Longevity & Gut Health, Keyboard Warriors, Conscious Uncoupling + Medical Gaslighting
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow said Starring in Shallow Hal Wa a ‘Disaster’— Here’s Why She’s Right
  3. 13 totally absurd celebrity diets, and 3 you might actually consider
  4. A Tweet About Early 2000s Diet Culture Went Viral This Week. Here’s What It Missed
  5. Kate Winslet Recalls the ‘Straight-Up Cruel’ Body-Shaming She Experienced After Titanic
  6. Alicia Silverstone says being vegan is the “best thing that ever happened to me”
  7. If You Survived the Early 2000s Without Body Issues, Congratulations
  8. The Illusion of Control in the Development of Eating Disorders
  9. Fans Feel Really Sorry For Selena Gomez After She Was Forced To Explain Why She’s Gained Weight In Response To Harsh Body-Shaming Comments



Zillennial Discourse is a column where I use my position as a ’99 baby to weigh in on the latest internet discourse dividing Gen-Z and Millenials. If you’re a fellow Zillennial with an opinion, come pitch your ideas!