Vote! Who Will Be People’s Most Beautiful Woman?

The bible of celebrity admirers everywhere, People, will crown its Most Beautiful Person in the World tomorrow. Clues the magazine has revealed thus far: It’s a woman (it’s only been a man three times—thrice!—and the honors went to Mel Gibson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Cruise. Two-thirds crazies.) and she’s never been on the cover before.

My money is on Jennifer Lawrence. She’s stunning (duh) but also totally of-the-moment It-girly. She’s popular enough to sell covers, but just divisive enough to fuel some backlash and keep the choice in the headlines. She seems the easy answer.

There’s also new It girl on the street, Lupita Nyong’o, who is crazy beautiful to be sure. But despite her Oscar, I think she might need another year in the spotlight before People‘s editors deem her Most Beautiful worthy.

Shailene Woodly is definitely in the Jennifer Lawrence sorority, and she has lots of big-time movies happening (Divergent out now, The Fault in Our Stars this summer), but I think she’s still too new on the scene. Other possibilities in the young’uns category: Taylor Swift, Kate Upton…

Here’s a thought: Cameron Diaz? I was surprised to find she’s never held the title. She’s certainly A-list enough. She just wrote a book all about loving yourself and being beautiful. She’s in a new movie, The Other Woman, that comes out this week, which makes her super relevent in terms of magazine sales. If it’s not Jennifer, my money is on Cameron.

And this just in from my mom (she’s so hip): What about Kerry Washington? Talk about someone who can sell a magazine. Even pregnant she takes my breath away. She’d be like, “Most beautiful in the world? Handled. Boom.”

So definitely Jennifer. Or Kerry. Or Cameron. (Or Shakira?? I can’t commit.)

 

Shameless self-promotion: Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me just got its first review. And it’s a good one {breathes huge sigh of relief}. Check out what Publishers Weekly had to say.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under The Search

Is Gwyneth Paltrow the Most Divisive Celebrity?

 

Lunchtime poll: Is there any celeb as loved, hated, and love-to-hated as Gwyneth?

I think not.

For my upcoming book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, I set out to adopt the lifestyles of the celebrities I most admired. I tried to emulate Jennifer Aniston’s workout routine (I want those legs!), Jennifer Garner’s marriage, Sarah Jessica Parker’s style, Tine Fey’s work ethic, and more. Armed with My Father’s Daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cookbook, I also tried to achieve Gwynnie’s kitchen prowess. There were some hiccups (cleanses are not my friend) but overall I thought it went pretty well. I mean, I roasted a duck. So there.

Of all the celebrities I write about, Gwyneth is definitely the most controversial. Some people adore her. Her website Goop.com, has more than a million subscribers and her more recent cookbook, It’s All Good, debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. My BFF Mindy is trying to cook all of Gwyneth’s recipes in an attempt at self-improvement.

Other people hate her. Hate. Her. A reporter once told me Gwyneth should be “outlawed.” Websites write about her most irritating quotes and then more irritating quotes. And of course we all had a field day with the now infamous uncoupling.

I go back and forth. Do I think it’s absurdly out of touch to recommend that us regular women buy a $90 white T-shirt? Of course. But do I still subscribe to Goop? Of course of course.

I’m trying to think if there is any celebrity who inspires as much simultaneous rage and admiration as our Gwyneth. (This is someone who was named  People’s Most Beautiful Woman and Star’s Most Hated Celebrity in the same week.) Maybe Beyonce, but I think we all mostly love her, no? I’ve heard conflicting reactions to Jennifer Garner but how can you not want to go to lunch with this lady? Jennifer Lopez? I just don’t know.

You tell me: Love Gwyneth? Hate her? Is there anyone else nearly as polarizing?

4 Comments

Filed under Jennifer Gwyneth and Me

Saying Goodbye to (Fictional) Friends

Last night was the finale of How I Met Your Mother, which, you may know, has long been a favorite of mine. The finale itself was pretty divisive. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.) I was satisfied with the ending—I liked the closure, I appreciated that they didn’t dwell on the mother’s death, I was glad they set the story-telling six years after her death, so we could see that Ted turned out ok and I didn’t have to cry for him too much. I didn’t love that Barney and Robin got divorced after approximately two minutes. I HATED her old lady hair in the final scene. But when those closing credits rolled, I was smiling.

Episode specifics aside,  I did go to sleep with a sense of sadness. It was as if I’d said goodbye to old friends. I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother since 2005. I’ve known Marshall and Lily and Barney longer than I’ve known most of my Chicago pals, and it’s amazing how much I truly feel like I get these people who, I have to remind myself, aren’t even real people.

While researching Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, I learned about a scientific concept called “parasocial interactions”: one-sided relationships where one party knows a lot about the second party, but the second party knows nothing, or next to nothing, about the first. It is most commonly observed between celebrities and their followers—I , for example, feel like Mindy Kaling is my BFF; she, on the other hand, doesn’t know I’m alive. A study out of Kansas State even found that one of the most common parasocial relationships people have is with the characters from Friends. Guilty. Could I be any tighter with Chandler? 

Parasocial interactions aren’t bad for you, provided you have enough self-awareness to recognize you don’t actually know these people. (Stalker territory, folks.) Research has shown that, when kept in check, we can reap the same benefits from an imagined relationship, like mine with the HIMYM gang, as we do from the real-life kind. We might feel more connected, less isolated, and more confident. If we identify with someone, and also think highly of her, we might even by association think more highly of ourselves.

So I’ll miss the slap bets and Robin Sparkles and the reminders that nothing good happens after 2 am. I’ll miss MacLaren’s and Puzzles and all the Interventions. But most of all, I’ll miss my (parasocial) pals.

Ever had a parasocial relationship of your own? Ever miss the fictional characters of a TV show or a book as if they were your real-life friends? Or am I just too committed to my TV?

My new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, comes out three months from today! (The release date was changed to July 1.) You can preorder it here and I’d be so grateful if you did. Publisher’s Weekly said readers will “alternately laugh and cringe” and “examine their outlook on perfection, self-acceptance, and aspiring to be one’s very best self.” Who doesn’t want that?!?

9 Comments

Filed under Everything I Know I Learned on TV, Jennifer Gwyneth and Me

Crisis Mode: America’s Friendships

I don’t know how it’s possible that I just discovered Lifeboat, a “movement of people rediscovering friendships,” but apparently I’m off my game. The site, which posts the latest news, advice and science of friendship, released their State of Friendship in America report last year, and the findings are fascinating. (Random tidbits: Married people are 18% more likely to donate a kidney to a friend; city folk put more emphasis on attractive friends; liberals are less satisfied with friendships than conservatives.) Check out their key findings below.

And if you’re curious how I dealt with my own friendship crisis, have I got the book for you.

Seventy-five percent of Americans aren’t happy with their friendships? That’s depressing. Do you see yourself in these stats? Find them surprising? Sound off below!

6 Comments

Filed under The Search

Notes on the Oscars

Live tweeting the Oscars was more fun than even I expected. When I first decided to do it, I was worried I wouldn’t have anything to say. As it turned out, I talk to myself more than I realize while watching TV. A lot of Sunday went something like this:

Me, to no one: Um, what did John Travolta just call her?!?!

Me, to me: Tweet that!

So instead of enumerating my Oscar notes (as I did the Golden Globes) I figured I’ll just annotate (in the fancy brackets) the “greatest hits” of my Twitter feed from the evening. No 140 character limit here, friends.

Ready? Let’s relive a night from less than 48 hours ago!

  • I LOVE that Jennifer Lawrence is dating the About a Boy boy. {Did you all know this? Not the guy from the new sitcom, obviously, but the one from the Hugh Grant movie! If he’s anything like his character, and I like to think he is, this is a perfect match.)
  • My mother-in-law calls “Her” “She” by mistake. Amazing. {Feminine pronouns, same diff. I love her.}
  • Is short hair the biggest trend of the night? {Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Portia de Rossi}
  • I’m fine with the red bow tie, but why the ombre hair, Jared? {Still, gotta love Jordan Catalano. He was a star of the night.)
  • I feel like I’m watching a Glee performance. And I’m not complaining. {This regarding Pharrell’s performance of “Happy,” which was fab.}
  • It makes me sad when the winners of the “small” awards have to walk a mile to get to the stage. {I mean, the people taking home Best Animated Short are probably more excited than, say, Cate Blanchett, who probably puts her latest Oscar on top of her awards heap at home. Give the poor folks better seats.}
  • Since when do the Oscars have themes? This isn’t, like, the prom. {I wasn’t feeling the “hero” vibe.}
  • Is this just a commercial for that Zach Morris tablet Ellen is holding? {Re: The selfie that broke Twitter.}
  • Oh. My. Gosh. My two best-dressed predictions are presenting together. VERONICA MARS & VINCE HOWARD. I can die now. {This needs no annotation.}
  • I usually don’t love what Charlize Theron wears (I know, I’m the only one) but wow. {Wow wow wow wow wow.}
  • Lupita Lupita Lupita! Fingers crossed. {Yay!}
  • Her Willy Wonka playoff music translates to more tears. {An acceptance speech for the books, and then they have to go play Lupita Nyong’o off to “Pure Imagination.” Consider my heartstrings pulled.}
  • What did John Travolta just call Idina Menzel? What did I miss? {We all know what became of this}
  • I really like Jennifer Lawrence but I worry she is about to tip. That opening bit {where she, like, heckled someone in the audience}  felt like she was maybe trying too hard? {Am I alone in this one?}

Okay, folks. Now you. Agree with my general sentiments? What were your favorite moments of the night? And who was your best dressed?

1 Comment

Filed under The Search

The Oscars are Sunday… I’m Live Tweeting!

The closest I'll get to an Oscar...

The closest I’ll get to an Oscar…

The Oscars are my Super Bowl. Which means I’ll be glued to my TV screen on Sunday. First, to see all the dresses, celebrity air kisses, Ryan Seacrest puns and mani-cam bird flips on E! and then, of course, to see the big show itself. What I’m most excited about? Ellen, obvs, and Idina Menzel singing “Let It Go.” (I still haven’t seen the movie but it’s just a matter of time before I’m on the train, big time. Also, I love everything Idina.) And whatever Lupita Nyong’o wears. 

My Oscar viewing experience usually involves texting my mom and some friends with outraged comments about so-and-so’s dress or what’s-his-face’s awkward/hilarious/tearjerker speech. But this time instead of texting, I’ll be tweeting! If Jennifer Lawrence is self-deprecating, or Anne Hathaway riles her haters, or Matthew McConaughey says “all right, all right, all right”—all guarantees, really—I’ll be there with 140 characters on the subject. I hope you’ll all follow along and let me know what you’re thinking of the show, too.

I’m @rberch. Can’t wait for our viewing party!

Oh, and that pic above? That’s me at the Kodak Theatre in 2010, the morning after the ceremony. Definite life highlight.

Will you be tuning in? Have any Oscar watching rituals?

1 Comment

Filed under Jennifer Gwyneth and Me

I Want To Be…. Harriet The Spy

Harriet the Spy

My upcoming book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, is largely about role models. Celebrity role models, yes, but also the idea of emulating others: Is it ok to live by another person’s example? Or are we  better off blazing our own trails?

I’m always observing other people, trying to incorporate the traits I admire into my own life. Celebrities, or athletes (especially around Olympics time! Mikaela Shiffrin, I heart you.), or politicians, whoever. No one is off limits.

It started, though, with fictional characters. Before I even knew what a “role model” was, I was reading about girls  I wanted to be just like. Matilda. Cassie Logan. Stacey McGill, Treasurer.

Harriet the Spy might have been my  first “I want to be her.” She was an aspiring writer in New York. was an aspiring writer in New York! She loved eavesdropping. loved eavesdropping! (Still do.)  She was named Harriet. I.. well, my mom was (is) named Harriet! 

Twinsies.

Except Harriet overheard much more interesting stuff than I did. She caught on to tensions  between the adults around her and, in her green composition spy notebook (a copy of which I bought for myself), reminded herself to “CHECK ON THIS.” She was tough and independent and smart.

I wanted to be her.

If you can believe it–I cannot–Harriet the Spy celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. What’s even more amazing is how well it holds up. Like this:

They walked to Eighty-sixth Street,  took the cross-town bus, and soon were whizzing along in  the subway, sitting in a line – Ole Golly, then Harriet, then Sport. Ole Golly stared straight ahead. Harriet was scribbling furiously in her notebook.

“What are you writing?” Sport asked.

“I’m taking notes on all those people who are sitting over there.”

“Why?”

“Aw, Sport” – Harriet was exasperated – “because I’ve seen them and I want to remember them.” She turned back  to her book and continued her notes:

MAN WITH ROLLED WHITE SOCKS, FAT LEGS. WOMAN WITH ONE CROSS-EYE AND A LONG NOSE. HORRIBLE LOOKING LITTLE BOY AND A FAT BLONDE MOTHER WHO KEEPS WIPING HIS NOSE off. Funny lady looks like a teacher and is reading. I don’t think I’d like to live where any of these people live or do the things they do. i bet that little boy is  sad and cries a lot. i bet that lady with the cross-eye looks in the mirror and just feels terrible.

This is not just smart, it’s funny. And Harriet feels as real today as she did when I was reading about her 20 years ago. I wanted to be her then, and I want to be her now. (Note to self: Pay more attention to people around you, less attention to phone.)

There’s a special edition of Harriet the Spy coming out this month. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Who was your earliest role model? (I think I’ll turn this “I Want To Be…” into a series. The list is always growing.)

8 Comments

Filed under The Search