05.15.14 9:45 AM ET
Why Do We Love Gisele Bundchen but Hate Gwyneth Paltrow?
Gwyneth Paltrow wants to tell you how to live your life. She preaches eating clean and has claimed she’d “rather die than eat cheese from a tin.” She infamously replaced the word “divorce” with her self-proclaimed term “conscious uncoupling.” She’s also an Academy Award-winning actress. But with her GOOP-y, “I’m better than you” attitude, which has made her one of the most hated—or at least irritating—women in Hollywood, it’s certainly hard to remember that.
Despite her reigning status on the “Perfect Life” list, Paltrow isn’t the only more-wholesome-than-thou celebrity. On Wednesday, Gisele Bündchen channeled her inner Gwyneth, talking homemade fruit leather and raising chickens in the backyard of her California home with Food and Wine magazine. “Benjamin and I make his school snack together—fruit leather in our dehydrator,” the world’s highest paid supermodel said. “You can use any fruit, but I always use banana as the base because it has great texture and sweetness. My son is so proud; he goes to school and tells all his friends he made his own snack.”
On home-grown produce, she explained: “I have a beautiful garden in L.A. where I raise chickens. We have very little waste because the chickens eat all of the vegetable scraps, and anything they won’t eat I put in my compost pile with the chicken poo.”
Had these comments come from Paltrow’s mouth, readers everywhere would have been sighing, ‘Not again, Gwyn,’ with an air of expected disgust. Yet, despite her GOOP-like statements (which aren’t the first of their kind, might I add), Gisele has somehow been able to sustain a desirable—even enviable—image, while Paltrow has become, according to a poll conducted by Star magazine, “the most hated woman in Hollywood.” Why are we so quick to swoon over the supermodel, but seriously hate on the celebrity spawn, especially when they share the seemingly same desire to flaunt their privileged lifestyle?
Last month, Vanity Fair published an article that asked the question: Why Does Every Female Celebrity Compare Herself to Gisele?, noting the model’s successful career, her marriage to gorgeous, All-American star quarterback Tom Brady, and her to-die-for, “goddess-like” body as the answers. “I have a top-five list [of crushes], and Gisele is my number one,” model-turned-actress Brooklyn Decker told the magazine. “So she can do no wrong in my eyes ... [she] is just so perfect in every way.” Kardashian half-sister and budding model Kendall Jenner stated, “I want to be the next Gisele Bündchen. Everything she does, who she is, what she’s done, she’s just amazing.” Even funny gal Mindy Kaling cited the ever-present “Gisele Phenomenon” of women wanting to “trade bodies” with the supermodel. “Do I sometimes look at Gisele Bündchen and wonder how awesome life would be if I never had to wear Spanx?,” she asked. “Duh, of course. That’s kind of the point of Gisele Bündchen.”
For over four years, though, Bündchen has expressed somewhat outrageous Gwyneth-like opinions that have seemingly been overlooked in favor of her idealistic presence. She’s considered the idea that hospital births are a violence against women, stating, “Most people are unaware what a birth without violence is like and its benefits to mother, baby, family and society. Many hospitals are like a mass production of babies, where routines are followed and the baby must be born as soon as possible.” She’s claimed that childbirth is painless: “I wanted to be very aware and present during the birth. I didn’t want to be drugged up. So I did a lot of preparation, I did yoga and meditation, so I managed to have a very tranquil birth at home. It didn’t hurt in the slightest.” She’s proclaimed that sunscreen is “poison,” bragged that she hasn’t “drank soda in 10 years,” and admitted her hair requires zero maintenance: “In my job you have to remember people are brushing my hair every day,” she said. “You have to remember the last thing I want [on a day off] is a brush in my hair!”
In August 2010, the model shared one of her most outspoken and controversial statements in regards to breastfeeding. “Some people here [in the United States] think they don’t have to breastfeed and I think, ‘Are you going to give chemical food to your child, when they are so little?’” she told Harper's Bazaar UK. “There should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.”
Yet as her comments on mandatory breastfeeding sparked a major media controversy, Bündchen took to her blog to defend, and in a way apologize, for her statements.
“My intention in making a comment about the importance of breastfeeding has nothing to do with the law. It comes from my passion and beliefs about children,” she wrote. “Becoming a new mom has brought a lot of questions, I feel like I am in a constant search for answers on what might be the best for my child. It’s unfortunate that in an interview sometimes things can seem so black and white. I am sure if I would just be sitting talking about my experiences with other mothers, we would just be sharing opinions. I understand that everyone has their own experience and opinions and I am not here to judge. I believe that bringing a life into this world is the single most important thing a person can undertake and it can also be the most challenging. I think as mothers we are all just trying our best.”
Her tone was neither condescending nor defensive, and maybe that’s where she diverges from Paltrow—in her willingness to face and confront criticism, rather than ignore it. In certain ways—perfect-10 body, husband, and overall charmed life aside—she can be just like any other mother.
Arguably the most controversial move of Bündchen’s career was when she attempted to show she’s a regular mom, posting an image to Instagram on December 10 that pictured the model breastfeeding while having her hair, makeup, and nails done. “What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours flying and only 3 hours of sleep #multitasking #gettingready,” the caption read. For the wide range of backlash she received for the image, however, she also received an array of envy and praise. “Gisele Bündchen's Multitasking Photo Proves She Really Is A ‘Super Model’ Mom,” The Huffington Post wrote. Elle.com published a piece entitled “Why This Photo of Gisele Bündchen Breastfeeding Makes Me Jealous.” A Playboy model and mother of two even defended the model’s post: “I think what Gisele did was awesome,” she said. “She is braver than I am. When I first had the baby I said, ‘I’m going to breast feed the baby and set a good example,’ but it’s not fun or easy to do that.”
While Gwyneth is preaching her own lifestyle to others, Gisele is simply practicing it. She’s showing that she, like many other women, is a working mother, albeit in a much different industry. But she’s not telling you that her life is better than yours or that you should strive to achieve what she has. And, she’s certainly not criticizing those who live a different lifestyle (unlike Paltrow, who famously said in an interview, “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”)
“We’re more annoyed now than in the past. It’s the whole idea that she insists she’s relatable and like everyone else, but she makes it clear time and again that she’s just not,” Louis Peitzman, associate editor at Buzzfeed, told The Daily Beast last year in reference to the unattainableness of Paltrow’s $300-a-day recommended family meals and disparaging statements like, “I am who I am; I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.” It’s clear, between her privileged childhood (her mom is actress Blythe Danner, her father, producer/director Bruce Paltrow) and current lifestyle (we’re so overshadowed by crazy health and diet tips that we forget Paltrow is actually an Academy Award-winning actress), there appears to be some sort of disconnect from reality.
Gisele isn’t pretending that she’s someone who makes $25,000 a year either, but she’s also not shoving her $42-million a year down our throats. Sure, 90 percent of her produce may come from her own backyard) and she may incessantly post photos of herself and her daughter, Vivian, doing yoga, but the biggest difference between her and Gwyn? She hasn’t worked toward capitalizing on her lifestyle choices with a self-centered brand focused solely on how to achieve her life. She hasn’t claimed she should be our go-to health guru. She hasn’t insisted through pretentious newsletters and blog posts that she is a lifestyle expert.
Despite her beauty, grace, and near perfection, Gisele comes across as more accessible, and dare I say, relatable to the average woman. We all long for something—or someone—to help us achieve a better version of ourselves. And it isn’t kale-eating, juice-cleansing Gwyneth. It’s Gisele, the yoga-doing, multi-tasking, supermodel supermom who, at 33 years old, has a successful marriage and two children, all while also reigning as the world’s highest paid model for seven consecutive years. Sure, her workday may not be like the rest of ours, but there is something to be said for still getting her ass out of bed to earn that near $42 million a year. So can we hate her Gwyneth-like comments? Yes. But can we hate Gisele herself? No. Not when she’s so damn perfect.