Between Martha Stewart’s rap sheet and Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial and pricey techniques, A-list domestic goddesses aren’t what they used to be. Stepping into that void is Ayesha Curry, the basketball wife who’s eked out a unique place for herself in a landscape of reality TV cast members and bona fide Kardashians. As the young, charismatic partner of Stephen Curry, Ayesha has earned hashtag accolades like #RelationshipGoals, #FamilyGoals, and #LifeGoals. It’s not just that the Currys are talented, famous, and attractive—or that their daughter Riley is a social media star in her own right. What distinguishes the young family is their relatively old-school approach.
Steph and Ayesha’s love story, which began at church youth group and culminated in a Notebook-style proposal, is the most wholesome celebrity couple anecdote since Nick Jonas and Selena Gomez’s matching purity rings. After marrying early—Steph was 23 and Ayesha 22—Ayesha evolved from an aspiring actress to a celebrity chef, and became a mother of two as well as a constant courtside presence.
While Steph Curry is beloved for his talent and ability, Ayesha’s unquestionable appeal is slightly more mysterious. On certain corners of the internet, Ayesha Curry has become code for the ideal woman. She’s a loving wife who supports her man and treats him like a king. She’s a doting mother who more than knows her way around a kitchen. In other words, she’s almost too good to be true—the evocative figure who Slate sanctified as “the sports world’s Virgin Mary.”
Of course, Ayesha Curry can’t help that she’s been cast as some sort of fantasy. “It’s weird, right?” Curry told The Daily Beast when asked about her saintly public image. “I’ve never said anything like that about myself,” she continued, “so it’s weird that people put that on me, but I’ll take it!”
We caught up with Curry at the launch of Arla Foods’ partnership with No Kid Hungry. Unmistakable in nude heels and an artfully arranged shirt dress, Curry is on hand to spout the gospel of preservative-free cream cheese, and share the good word about afterschool programs that feed children in need. No Kid Hungry, a national nonprofit that aims to end child hunger in America, is “the main reason” Ayesha Curry is here. “It’s a cause I hold so dear to my heart,” she adds, “and I’ve been working with them for a couple years.” Previously, Curry has contributed by donating 10 percent of the profits from her brand of extra virgin olive oil to the cause. Smiling sagely, she explains that, “Putting good foods into kids’ bodies puts me at peace and makes me really happy.”
While Curry’s relationship with her adoring public has been relatively blessed, she’s also experienced the requisite amount of celebrity controversy. Her critics came out in full force last year after Stephen Curry was ejected from Game 6 of the NBA finals, leading his upset wife to tweet, “I’ve lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money…or rating in [sic] not sure which. I won’t be silent.” Curry quickly amended her Twitter feed with an apology, writing: “tweeted in the heat of the moment because the call was uncalled for.” Still, she was swiftly rebuked by trolls and commenters, who accused her of being ill-informed and out of line.
Curry’s transparent, passionate approach to social media will continue to earn her fans and haters in equal measure. When, for example, she tweeted out, “Everyone’s into barely wearing clothes these days huh? Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters,” Curry was praised by many for her modest approach. Others interpreted her off-the-cuff remarks as slut-shaming, and/or playing into punitive respectability politics.
Curry is surprised and a little bit amused by how her little comments have been perceived as massive statements and snowballed into clickbait controversies. After she tweeted about her personal approach to dressing, Curry was quickly held up as a demure role model, and was even placed in direct competition with Kim Kardashian. Apparently, every woman was either a Kim Kardashian or an Ayesha Curry—a binary that Curry herself totally dismisses. “I saw a picture in a magazine one day, and it was literally like walking around with nipples out, it was so drastic! I thought it was hilarious,” Curry recalls. “So that’s why I tweeted that. My intentions were not to say you can’t show leg or whatever—that’s ridiculous. I know Khloé [Kardashian], and they’re great, so it was very uncalled for.”
Still, after spending only a brief amount of time with Ayesha Curry, it’s easy to see how she gets cast in the role of the demure domestic, a stereotype that is then weaponized against other women. In a time where celebrities are consistently denouncing the president and breaking the internet with their naked selfies, there is something unusual about a star who refuses to talk politics, let alone one who is vaguely scandalized by nip slips. But Curry isn’t trying to enforce her lifestyle on others or even make a statement. Her passions and interests (cooking, parenting, celebrating her husband, etc.) just seem to naturally align with some people’s feminine ideal.
Curry may very well be the domestic goddess we’ve heard so much about, but she has a fierce passion that isn’t just reserved for confetti parties or the kitchen. While, unlike her husband, Curry isn’t outwardly anti-Trump, she has nothing but contempt for the budget cut wars that have put programs like No Kid Hungry on the chopping block. When asked about a blog post on the No Kid Hungry website condemning Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget chief who said that there’s no evidence that afterschool programs that feed children improve their academic performance, Curry sighed, “It’s devastating.”
According to Ayesha, the work that No Kid Hungry does ought to be bigger than politics. “For the budget cuts to effect a program like No Kid Hungry, where all these kids are able to go to school, learn better because they were hungry…that that could potentially be taken away, is so hurtful,” she explains. “I’m a mom, I have two little ones, and there are parents out there who unfortunately, they would love to be able to provide all of these things for their kids but they can’t. And I feel like that’s what America’s about, right? Helping one another out for the better good of our communities. And I just think it’s so sad.”