I have a confession to make: I like Gwyneth Paltrow. And judging by the regular bashing she gets from the British press, I'm beginning to think I'm the only person (outside her immediate family) who does.
Earlier this week, she pulled off a brilliant guest spot in Glee, where she played bonkers supply teacher Holly Holiday. She treated us to a pretty good rendition of Cee Lo Green's Forget You and a song and dance mash-up of Singin' In The Rain and Umbrella, while managing to look hot in a pair of leather trousers – no mean feat, considering she's almost twice the age of all the other Glee girls she was performing with.
Given that she's obviously talented, doesn't court the press and seems genuinely nice, why do so many people – women in particular – have it in for her?
A quick straw poll suggests that her lifestyle website GOOP hasn't helped her cause. Subscribers – including me – are treated to a weekly email newsletter detailing Gwyneth's thoughts on food, travel, shopping and spirituality. Sometimes these are useful: thanks to Gwynnie, I now know how to make a mean turkey bolognese and can even rustle up a batch of banana spelt pancakes. When it comes to cooking, this woman obviously knows her stuff.
Other newsletters aren't quite so relevant – I tend to delete the ones packed with advice from her spiritual gurus and recommendations for must-visit expensive hotels and restaurants in locations all around the globe (I wish).
But judging by the recent outpouring of female bile on Twitter after a recent newsletter detailed her habit of giving her kids lemon flavour flax seed oil with their breakfast and foot massages at bedtime, you'd have thought that she'd just admitted to making them sleep in a dark cupboard under the stairs.
Yes, she's rich, privileged and presumably has a fair amount of help to keep her life running smoothly, but that's hardly a surprise, is it? Gwyneth's not telling us how to live our lives, she's just telling us how she lives hers – and GOOP is so obviously well intentioned that it seems a little harsh to hate her just because she has hippy mum tendencies and admits to liking children's clothes that cost upwards of £50.
After all, did we really expect her to shop at Primark?
Then, of course, there's the fact that she's worked out, toned up her "formerly sagging ass" (her words, not mine) and taken to wearing hotpants on a regular basis.
Unlike most celebs, Gwynnie admits that she works hard to stay in shape – and we can hardly blame her for showing off her amazing legs on the red carpet. I know I'd do the same if I started every day with an hour of dance aerobics.
Even though it might seem like she has the perfect life, Gwyneth has made it abundantly clear that she's had her ups and downs. She's spoken out about her struggle with post-natal depression after the birth of Moses in 2006, and has admitted to suffering from clinical depression after her break-up with Brad Pitt and the death of her father.
She's even admitted that she can't even bring herself to look at the Oscar she won in 1999 because she's so embarrassed by her infamously weepy Oscar acceptance speech.
Surely the point she's trying to make with GOOP is that just because her life looks perfect, she still worries about being a good mother, frets about her figure and gets stressed about work – she's just doing it in a swankier house with a rockstar husband and best mates like Madonna and Stella McCartney.
As for choosing unusual names for her children – well there are kids in my daughter's class with much more unique (aka silly) names than Apple and Moses.
Then, of course, there's her husband. In the last few years Chris Martin has perfected the art of rubbing people up the wrong way. Yes, his intense manner and habit of drawing marker pen squiggles over his hands is a bit annoying, but let's not forget that when Coldplay first found fame Chris was a genuine indie sex symbol and he and Gwyneth were widely believed to the perfect couple.
I respect the fact that she keeps her family and her relationship out of the spotlight, even if that does mean that she has to endure regular comments that she's married to a misery guts and endless speculation that her marriage is on the rocks as a result.
If nothing else, surely Gwyneth's appearance on Glee proves that she's not the humourless macrobiotic fembot that she once seemed and actually has a sense of humour.
I think it's about time the rest of us got the joke.
By: Ceri Roberts
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