Everything I Know About Blithe Confidence, I Learned From Gwyneth Paltrow

This is part of Thank You Notes, a series of letters offering gratitude to the people and things that inspire us most. Like many others, Allure has spent this summer looking inward — the place from where, as the saying goes, beauty springs. What we found was pain, love, humor, and powerful gratitude, for the people we know and the world we live in. Then we wrote.

To Goop,

“Forgive me if this comes out wrong,” begins Gwyneth Paltrow — immediately acknowledging that what follows is a reckless anecdote, a thought that has not had time to ripen in the mind of its owner, not the kind of thing you want to share with the Wall Street Journal reporter who is profiling you, but you know what, ah well, here it goes — “I went to do a yoga class in L.A. recently, and the 22-year-old girl behind the counter was like, ‘Have you ever done yoga before?’ And literally I turned to my friend, and I was like, ‘You have this job because I’ve done yoga before.'”

Incredible. Now let us observe this scene from the perspective of the trembling “22-year-old” yoga counter attendant. (The age detail is bizarrely precise and probably meant to describe somebody who looked like a very young adult — but I am not about to disagree with G.P.!) How could her years of tantric study have prepared her for an audience with the radiant Messiah? It’s likely she was instructed to ask each new studio visitor about their yoga experience in case they needed a detailed tutorial. It’s less likely, but still possible, that as the words feebly left her mouth, her legs were buckling, attempting to genuflect. “Have you ever done yoga before?”

And the reply shone on her like Heaven’s light: “I am God and you are my creation.”

Did Gwyneth Paltrow aid in the invention of the yoga economy? Hmm, let me really think about that. Maybe I’ll do some digging into the spiritual practices of Ancient India and try to chart the immigration of northern Indian persons to what is now Malibu by looking at ship manifests…

Joking! I suspect she did not and that Goop is the result, rather than the catalyst, of the mainstreamification of wellness culture, but I am not a yoga scientist. I will be giving no interviews to the Wall Street Journal magazine on the topic. For better or for worse, but mostly for worse, in our present moment, it feels as though the truth matters less than the confidence blowing like a mighty tailwind just behind it.

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