Ana Veciana-Suarez: It’s not about Gywneth Paltrow; it’s about our insecurities and need to compare

Boy, am I glad I’m not Gywneth Paltrow.

She opens her mouth to comment on something or other, and the rest of us pounce on her. The rest of us meaning women, namely. Men, I think, don’t seem to care much about what she says. And if they do, they’re invariably nonplussed about our reaction.

On the other hand, we — ah, we women — we’re just champing at the bit to eviscerate People magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman of 2013, a glamor puss who seems to have everything: power, privilege, looks, money. And apparently, ignorance of how the rest of us live.

Yet, the firestorm Paltrow unwittingly created has more to do with us, with our expectations, our insecurities, our self-judgment, than with her or anything she represents. Decades into a revolution that saw women enter the workforce en masse, we are still fighting the same old wars and the all-too-familiar demons.

In case you missed it, Paltrow opened the door to ridicule when she and husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, announced the breakdown of their 10-year marriage. Paltrow didn’t use “divorce” or “separation” or “breakup,” common words with concrete meanings. Instead, on her website, the couple called their split-up “conscious uncoupling.”

As in: “We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.”

Sounds pretentious, no? Little wonder comedians had a field day with that weird word pairing. After refusing to use the D-word, Paltrow further guaranteed herself the wrath of many when, in an offhand remark, she told an E! interviewer that an office job is easier for parents than being an actress on a movie set.

Well. Well!

As you can imagine, the response was swift and brutal. Vicious, actually — and totally, stupidly impractical. A features editor at The New York Post, mother of a toddler, even wrote an open letter that summarized the reactions I heard from others, only in more eloquently snarky paragraphs. Reading the letter, I thought: What does this features editor have to complain about anyway? She’s got a decent job, a roof over her head, health insurance and one kid. Many women must take care of much more with so much less.

And so here we go again. Regardless of age, office title or economic status, we’re always one-upping each other.

Back in the day, when I was raising five kids and putting in the hours to bring home a paycheck, I envisioned a time when such foolish evaluations — who has it worse, who can afford better, who is more committed to her children — would be relegated to the history books. I was certain we would learn from the experience of the mommy war pioneers, from the battle scars of the employed and the stay-at-home, from the struggle of those lucky enough to have choices and those who had none.

We didn’t.

Frustrated by the crush of routine and exhausted by endless to-do lists, we’ve allowed the green-eyed monster of envy to dictate and influence our collective conversation instead of focusing on what’s best for us as individuals. As long as we’re busy comparing ourselves to each other instead of making our own paths, we are destined to fight this age-old battle again and again and again, a never-ending argument that does no one, not even movie stars, any favors.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Mariner of the Seas is docked at the international passenger port in Shanghai, China.

    Global cruise lines set sail for China

    Royal Caribbean’s newest ship has attractions not usually seen on cruise liners, including bumper cars, a skydiving simulator and a glass observation capsule on a mechanical arm that lifts its passengers high into the air.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Bhindi masala: </span>Fried okra in a flavorful spice paste is a surefire way to fall in love with the misunderstood vegetable.


    No slime: Indian dish brings out the best of okra

    I am glad that no one ever forced stewed okra on me during my childhood, because the stories I’ve heard from stewed-okra veterans have been traumatizing. Friends and colleagues have described memories of okra that was sulfurous and slimy and yet left a cottony feeling on their tongues and gums. (This is no coincidence: The okra plant is related to the cotton plant.)



    Cats can pick up virus at vet’s, but they can also transmit it themselves

    Q: Our cats had to go to the vet hospital last week to have their teeth cleaned. The procedures went very well and, as predicted, both were back to normal that evening. Unfortunately, two days later they both started sneezing. First Patches and then Stumpy came down with the exact same cold. Patches got better but we had to take Stumpy back to the hospital. We actually had to pay more for his cold than for the teeth cleaning! Shouldn’t the vet have gone easy on us since our cats live safely indoors and they obviously caught the cold there?

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category