Confessions of a Goop Obsessive
by Fiona Gibson
Like most writers, I’m easily distracted. The dog barking will have me out of my chair to see what’s up, then I’ll spot some unopened to mail to deal with, then think, ‘Hmm, what’ll I cook tonight?’ and start foraging amongst my cookbooks. Maybe I’ll peer in the fridge, make a coffee and stand glowering down at my husband’s horrible suede slippers with their flattened backs and wonder if I could get away with burning them. By the time I’ve done all that, two hours have flashed by, my kids are clattering in from school and the working day has been hijacked. Why do I do this? Sometimes I think the only solution is to nail myself to my damn seat.
If all that’s not enough, there’s also the peril of online distractions. I’ve banned myself from eBay and Boden (too many impending school trips to pay for) but I can’t resist the lure of Goop. It’s been around a few years now, but in case you’ve missed it, Goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘lifestyle brand’ – a digital magazine dispensing tips on how to steal a bit of her glowy-skinned health-giving lifestyle for yourself. There’s stuff to buy – like extortionate wooden beaded bracelets ‘for layering’ – and recipes, usually involving grated carrot, a sprinkling of some kind of grain and a drizzle of manuka honey (which, by the way, is only about eighteen quid).
Gwyneth’s new cookbook, It’s All Good, takes her foodie approach to an entirely new level. It’s a beautiful book, and everything looks completely scrummy in that girls’ lunch kind of way – the kind of food my friends and I love, but which my husband would regard with a pained expression. I know this makes him sound a bit Neanderthal, and he’s not at all – I’m just being realistic here. Jimmy is unlikely to ever say, ‘I just love this millet falafel, please give me more.’ In fact, he refers to Goop-type fare as ‘shivery food.’ So, for girlfriends, Gwyneth’s recipes are lovely – but the thing is, her book is all about family cooking.
As the actress believes that children shouldn’t have starchy carbs, it is low-carb and gluten-free (at home, she avoids feeding her kids pasta, bread and rice). And that’s where the Goop ethos falls down for me. I have sixteen-year-old twin boys who start their Standard Grades – the Scottish equivalent of GCSEs – this week. I can imagine how a low-carb regime go down, and it would almost be fun to try it – to hear their gales of derisive laughter as I presented them with a blueberry salad garnished with a bit of mint for breakfast. Hell, they’d mow me down in their stampede to the cupboard for Shreddies, bagels and cream cheese.
Teenage lads tend to have gargantuan appetites – for carbs. They tear into pizza, pies and great bowlfuls of pasta with gusto, and are constantly foraging in cupboards, asking, ‘What is there to eat?’ when we’ve barely cleared up after dinner. When their dad made an enormous loaf yesterday, I went off to find some jam to go with it. By the time I returned to the table, the whole thing had gone. If I tried to force a Gwyneth regime on them, they’d rebel – or move out, possibly to the chip shop. I can guarantee they won’t be going mad for grilled radicchio anytime soon. So why do I constantly find myself being drawn to Goop?
I guess Gwyneth embodies my fantasy self – the earth-mummy I planned to be when I was first pregnant, and imagined that parenting was basically about reading picture books and having a fine excuse not to go to work for a bit. I wanted to be one of those golden, sunny, ever-smiling mums – not snarling and blundering to the fridge for wine. I yearned for a kitchen filled with the aroma of freshly-baked oat cookies, not stinking of wet dog. And that’s why the whole Gwyneth fantasy is so seductive. Her philosophy is clearly nuts, and no one can rustle up home-made gluten-free fish fingers after a long working day (at least, no one without ‘help’). Yet it still represents the kind of wholesome family scenario we all aspire to.
So, in drooling over Goop, I’m just hoping a little of Gwynnie’s charmed existence might rub off on me. Either that, or I’m just trying to avoid writing chapter 37.
Fiona Gibson was born in Yorkshire and lives in Lanarkshire, Scotland with her husband Jimmy, their children Sam, Dexter and Erin and rescue dog Jack. She has written seven novels including Mum on the Run, The Great Escape and Pedigree Mum.