Gwyneth Paltrow's 'wellness' practices went viral on TikTok. Gen-Z isn't subscribing to her toxic diet culture.

·6-min read
Gwyneth Paltrow's
Gwyneth Paltrow's "wellness" practices face backlash on TikTok. (Photo: TikTok; designed by Maayan Pearl)

For breakfast, Gwyneth Paltrow has coffee. As she practices intermittent fasting, she doesn’t eat until lunch when she’ll usually have bone broth. She also tries to incorporate an hour of movement and a 30-minute dry sauna session into her day. "For dinner, I try to eat according to paleo. So lots of vegetables. It’s really important for me to support my detox."

The 50-year-old shared her typical routine on Dear Media’s podcast The Art of Being Well, which is hosted by Will Cole, a doctorate of natural medicine, who works closely with the goop founder.

Paltrow’s wellness claims, which were first delivered to GP’s biggest fans’s inboxes in 2008 (the company has since grown into a lifestyle empire, which includes beauty products, a fashion line, a ghost kitchen, a Netflix series, retail stores and more), have been occasionally treated as dogma but mostly used as viral fodder for her generational peers and millennials. As a clip of her latest interview surfaced on TikTok, the actress’s quotes have now reached a new audience: Gen-Z.

"To hear someone respond to a request for their wellness routine with detailed instructions for a very restrictive eating disorder certainly caught people's attention," Laura Girard, a 26-year-old personal trainer and content creator tells Yahoo Life.

Girard's shock was echoed in the comments section of the video. "God that is so depressing," "So basically, an eating disorder" and "This is 90s children’s trauma in a nutshell," the comment section read, alongside countless others referring to Paltrow as an almond mom — a term used to describe mothers obsessed with dieting as a means of being "healthy."

While the conversation is inherently a negative one, many might call it a win for the efforts made in recent years to dismantle toxic diet culture and how the success of that is displayed in response to the video.

"These comments make me smile. We are so over the almond mom culture being normal. I love it," one commenter noted.

"We are not as easy to convince that starvation is wellness," Jo Sebastian, a 25-year-old dietician, tells Yahoo Life. "People have had enough of diet culture, so this video sparked the conversation about how unsustainable and unrelatable the whole routine was."

Norman Kim, PhD, Advisor to the National Eating Disorders Association and Co-Founder of the Institute for Antiracism and Equity, says he loves "the sort of really healthy disregard for what's come before of this generation, adding, "My hope is that there has been some proliferation about body positivity, body neutrality and, at a minimum, just challenging ideas about thinness as the be-all end-all. And of the problematic nature of having thinness be such a driving factor for what we consider to be quote unquote, healthy, for example."

To many, the rejection of Paltrow's dangerous diet may seem normal, but her ideas have been pervasive for more than a decade — and the ideas she espouses represent "this very sort of old-school message about thinness and wealth and what one should aspire to," according to Kim.

While older generations have given power to Paltrow's practices or were complacent in response to her controversial platform, younger audiences being exposed to Paltrow's "schtick" for the very first time on TikTok aren't willing to accept it.

"Older generations just look past what Gwyneth Paltrow has said and have labeled her as an almond mom but Gen-Z will hold her accountable as an interview like that is not only harmful and hurtful but it can be triggering to others because that is not wellness," Spencer Barbosa, a body positive content creator tells Yahoo Life.

The 20-year-old's success on TikTok, where she has 8.6 million followers, demonstrates her peers's desire to move toward body acceptance, the normalization of different body types and the dissolution of toxic body ideals associated with harmful practices guised as wellness.

Barbosa worries that messages like Paltrow's "set us back" in regard to that evolution. She explains that she created a video to counter the troubling ideas that people might get about food from a celebrity that's seemingly promoting starvation.

Girard and Sebastian also note that it's not just Gen Z in this fight, but rather their use of social media that allows for this type of discourse among multiple generations. In fact, they argue that millennial leaders in the anti-diet culture space have armed younger audiences with the information that's facilitating the opposition.

"Diet culture recycles the same damaging practices and buzzwords as soon as they fall out of fashion. Now we're talking about the effects of the media we were fed on YouTube and Pinterest and blogs in the 2010's, while fighting the exact same rhetoric on TikTok," Girard says.

"The education online really allows us to see we are not alone in our journey. There is so much diversity of bodies and cultures and we are learning more to spot things that are not healthy," Sebastian adds. "I think slowly we are all glamorizing eating disorders less and less."

Paltrow responded to criticism of the clip on Friday when she shared that her diet has been altered in recent years as she deals with long COVID. "The way it manifests for me is very high levels of inflammation over time. So I’ve been working with Dr. Cole to really focus on foods that aren’t inflammatory," she explained. "This was a transparent look at a conversation between me and my doctor, it’s not meant to be advice for anybody else. It’s really just what has worked for me and it’s been very powerful and very positive. This is not to say that I eat this way all day, every day. And by the way, I eat far more than bone broth and vegetables."

Regardless of the reality of Paltrow's eating habits, Kim says it's hopeful to see so many people on a youth-driven platform contest the opinions of a figure like her when they see harm in what she's sharing.

"This idea that just somebody who's famous, somebody who has a big platform, can say something and we're just supposed to take it at face value — I think the challenging of that idea is great," he says. "It's super healthy, it’s important for driving innovation, it's important for driving changes societally."

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

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