Gwyneth Paltrow recalls having an ‘identity crisis’ when she turned 40: ‘What if I wasn’t sexually desirable?'

Gwyneth Paltrow may be a timeless beauty to her adoring fans, but the Goop founder is not immune to the pressures of aging.

In the most recent episode of the Goop podcast, Paltrow, 50, explained that while she has a healthier view of getting older these days, there was a time when the concept terrified her.

"I was really having a hard time with turning 40," she explained to the episode's guest, husband Brad Falchuk. "I had a flip-out about physical aging. I went to this dermatologist in London and got, like, the worst Botox, and I panicked."

Paltrow, who recently celebrated turning 50 in a stunning nude photoshoot that had her painted in gold, noted that much of that anxiety was fueled by the pressure she'd experienced in Hollywood after being a sought-after ingénue for years.

"When you [are] considered an attractive woman in the culture and you make your whole career off of that, in a sense, like, of course, I think that I had talent and I had something to contribute in the acting profession but I also was very objectified," the Oscar winner said. "You get parts because people think you’re attractive, right? My kind of parts, anyway."

"I wasn’t being cast in the character actor parts. I was a leading lady, so I think it was just a bit of an identity crisis figuring out, like, what if I wasn’t sexually desirable? What did that make me if I wasn’t pretty in the same way?" she continued. "You go from stopping traffic to a guy not looking at you as you drive by."

The actress went on to say that while it was a "very intense time," thankfully, she doesn't feel that pressure now, mainly because of the wisdom she's gained since.

"I was so critical of myself, I always thought something was wrong," she said, reflecting on the past. Since then, she explains, "I've started to settle in and recalibrate, and just relate to myself differently."

Part of that process is "accepting that my body is not the same or my metabolism is not the same or that I have wrinkles. It’s kind of like a beautiful adjustment if you start to make it more consciously," she explained. "I think there was a time when I was not adjusting to it, and I was fighting it in the past couple of years more, but now I think I feel better now."

Expanding the conversation even further, Paltrow touched on her fears about mortality that followed the death of her father, director Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002 of oral cancer.

As she explained, her father's death prompted her onto the path of advocating for healthy, active, positive lifestyles.

"My father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer when he was only 54. I mean, that's crazy to think about," she said. "For sure it's a part of why I've been so focused on maintaining good health and a good baseline of health … because it's a little scary."

Still, with age comes new discoveries about how to cope with such stress and anxiety.

"As you accumulate more years, you just realize that, actually, everything is going to be OK — even if it’s not [now], it is, and you’re going to be fine," she said. "You know by pattern recognition that you just keep getting through stuff. So things that you absolutely knew were the end of the world, you ended up waking up the next morning and getting through it, and then [there's] another problem."

"On some level I just understand that it’s all going to be ok," she says. "And then you relate slightly differently to the stress and to the stuff and the emotions, because you know that emotions will blow through you, that eventually the stress will release itself."

Indeed, Paltrow is stepping into this era of her life with gratitude.

While reflecting on her life in a recent Goop post, the actress explained that she's finally in a place where she sees the beauty in her "loosening skin" and "wrinkles."

She wrote that she now finds joy in the "map of the evidence" of a life truly lived.

"A collection of marks and irregularities that dog-ear the chapters. Scarred from oven burns, a finger smashed in a window long ago, the birth of a child," she said. "Silver hair and fine lines. The sun has left her celestial fingerprints all over me, as if she soaked a brush in dark-taupe watercolor, flecking it over my skin."

"While I do what I can to strive for good health and longevity, to stave off weakening muscles and receding bone, I have a mantra I insert into those reckless thoughts that try to derail me: I accept," she said. "I accept the marks and the loosening skin, the wrinkles. I accept my body and let go of the need to be perfect, look perfect, defy gravity, defy logic, defy humanity. I accept my humanity."

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