Remember when an actor was just an actor, and a singer was just a singer? Me neither, really, but I’m pretty sure it was a thing once.
Now every celebrity has her own fashion line, or cookbook, or blog empire. It started with Goop, Gwyneth’s (divisive) website/weekly newsletter dedicated to telling regular women how to live as fabulously as she does (spoiler alert: it involves trips to Marrakesh and $90 t-shirts and weekly blow-outs). Heidi Klum followed suit, with Heidi Klum on AOL, “a little bit of everything that I love, including fashion and beauty, fitness and nutrition, lifestyle, entertaining, recipes, parenting and more.” Jessica Alba wrote The Honest Life. Cameron Diaz wrote The Body Book. Just this week I learned that Drew Barrymore is the new editor-at-large for the style website Refinery29 and Rashida Jones is the new relationship columnist for Glamour.
Any celebrity who wants to stay in the fame game, it seems, has to have her hand in the “how to be fabulous” business.
I’m not against this, I don’t think. I subscribe to Goop. I own that Jessica Alba book. I’ll basically do whatever Jennifer Aniston or Kristen Bell or Mindy Kaling tell me to. And I really like Drew Barrymore, so I’m perfectly happy to learn more about her favorite breakfast sandwich. I believe that their lives are more fabulous and exciting than mine, so who am I to turn away from advice, or reject a peek into their daily rituals. If I want to be more like them, that seems a good place to start.
On the other hand… I do wonder what qualifies Gwyneth and Jessica and Drew et al as experts. Just being famous? Having money? Granted the whole “lifestyle expert” title is pretty all-encompassing (I define it as “person who exists”), so really it can be tacked onto just about anyone. Celebrities live really well because they have access and moolah. They have help. And thus they have time. And maybe it’s not exactly fair for them to be telling us how we should live, when most of us are short on the access and the moolah and the help and the time.
But back to that first hand…We are [I am?] hungry for celebrity everything. We devour Us Weekly and People. We watch the Kardashians (did you know that after Kourtney named her son Mason the name shot up to #2 in the most popular baby names for boys? Number 2!). We tweet at Lena Dunham. If there’s a market for their lifestyle advice, isn’t it ok for the starlets to capitalize on that?
And yet, to that second hand again. I love Rashida Jones. I really do. She’s funny. She rallied against pop-star crotch shots. She also happens to be stunning. But still, what makes her a relationship expert? She’s not married or in a long-term relationship, as far as I know. (I think maybe she’s dating this guy?) She’s not a therapist. She’s just a really smart, funny, beautiful woman. Which isn’t nothing, and maybe qualifies her to give her thoughts about relationships as much as anyone, but when I hear “expert” I want credentials. Maybe that’s just me.
Clearly, I’m torn. At first I was all about the celebrity-as-lifestyle-guru, since I’d like the confidence and togetherness and altogether fabulosity of my favorite celebs. I want to walk down the street and ooze cool instead of my current I-wore-these-sweatpants-to-bed-what-of-it? state. But the market is getting saturated. Now that any beautiful female celebrity can double as a connoisseur of, um, life, I’m getting over it. I mean, how many green juice recipes does one girl need? Just put the kale in the blender and be done with it.
What do you guys think? Do you flock to this sort of celebrity lifestyle content? Is there one celeb in particular who deserves the lifestyle guru title? Or is it all BS? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I really want to know. Do tell!
18 responses to “For or Against? The Celebrity as Lifestyle Expert”
i am not against it but for me this whole thing is over exposed. I never really enjoy reading about how we should live our life from people whose life is so much different from mine. in my own opinion, the “expert” title is just another role they had to feel for the contract, only some of it is real.. I enjoy it as another kind of reality show, it’s quite amusing for me..
agreed — way over done and not relevant to my life. i ignore it.
For the first time, Rachel, I disagree with you. One of the things I appreciated and came to love about your MWF book was that you researched and reported that research, and that you tried new things and reported on those, regardless of the outcome. I don’t ever follow “celebrity experts” because the only research they can provide is what they have experienced, and like you said, they have much more money, help, and time on their hands than the majority of us do. Having said that, I don’t seek out their advice, but I do watch late night shows (I love Jimmy Fallon!) and if they recommend something, I will sometimes look for more information. But I definitely don’t look to celebrities for any kind of advice.
I also LOVE Jimmy Fallon!
So pleased to hear that Drew Barrymore is writing now, I will check this out! I suppose it’s fair enough that celebs want to be bloggers too, because we are the coolest 😉
Ooo, I agree. I tend to tune in and listen/read, but when I stop to think about it I’m like–WHAT?!
Another example is Jillian Michaels’ podcast. I’ll listen to her talk about health and fitness all day, but recently she’s been doing “Love Doctor” segments, where she gives relationship advice–WHAT?!
I’m certainly guilty of reading celeb content and admiring their style choices. But actually taking their advice seems unrealistic. I don’t have money or time to spare, so engaging with them or admiring them is usually just a guilty pleasure. Reading People magazine takes my mind off things, and who couldn’t use that? If they recommend a two dollar hair tie, maybe I’ll give it a shot, but lifestyle choices? The few times I’ve taken their advice (on anything), it never worked out. I’d rather peruse Pinterest and find ideas that everyday people have tried and shared, than buy a celebrity cookbook by someone who probably has their own cook! What concerns me is that so many people out there really believe these celebs ARE experts. You can see from my blog, I’m not a big fan of the term “expert” or “guru.” Anyone can say “I’m an expert.” Actually being one is another story. Prove it!
I feel what all you ladies are saying, but I feel there ARE times to tune in, which I personally do when food and health (my passions) are involved because these women have moolah, time and access that we don’t. I feel that reading up on what they have to say, have heard, or been advised gives us “regular folks” advice we may not be able to afford. Because we don’t get to sit down next to Deepak Chopra at a dinner or hire a cook to help us write healthy recipes for ourselves.
One thing I appreciate about Gwyneth (we’re tight) is that she at least seems to put the doctors and chefs she works with in top billing. So it’s “Dr. so and so” for GP or “Chef so and so.” I don’t think she would claim to have come up with any of the health stuff herself. But maybe I’m wrong. I do love the It’s All Good cookbook and I’m not afraid to admit it! 😉
I would not look to any celebs for relationship advice and it’s hard to even take style tips seriously since they all have personal stylists! Doesn’t mean we can’t admire the stylists’ choices though.
Looking forward to the new book and fun seeing you on HerStories today!
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