The other day on our group text, Lorella investigated a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow standing in front of some bookshelves, and discovered there was a book in the background, assumedly in G’s house or office, devoted to napkins. “Napkins with a Twist”.
This is a book most of us will never need, but it’s probably legitimately in Gwyneth’s library. This is why she’s Not Like Us, and consequently why she is Gwyneth Paltrow, with all that involves.
Keira Knightley, on the other hand, will never be Gwyneth Paltrow, or anyone like her. She works constantly in high-profile projects (including, to be fair, lots of endorsements), but you can’t imagine her having a lifestyle brand—she’s just too resolutely regular and aware.
Personally I find this compelling, but you can just imagine that somewhere, there are ‘people’, shaking their heads at how her refusal to be a glamorous, ‘aspirational’ celebrity is getting in her way of making bank. Like in a new Harper's Bazaar interview, she talks about how she thinks that (U.K.) maternal leave is so incredibly lacking, and unfair against women in the workforce:
“I think paternity leave should be the same as maternity leave….when you're thinking about an employer looking at a man and a woman thinking, ‘Well, at some point you could take nine months or however long off, and the guy doesn't have to.’ Don't tell me that that doesn't come into it!”
This is not news to anyone who’s ever worked in a workplace, of course, but when’s the last time Keira Knightley had to worry about an employer choosing her over a guy? She doesn’t, and yet this is still front of mind. I’m not just being a fangirl here – I know, and read about, a lot of people who are a lot closer to hiring inequalities than she is and don’t see them, either out of ignorance or willful denial.
Then I realized maybe this comes from her friends. Knightley is probably normal enough to talk with other mothers in her neighbourhood, when they’re both walking around desperately sleep-deprived and lonely in that post-newborn fog – especially since you don’t get the impression there are a team of nannies working around the clock, right?
Not that I’m implying she doesn’t have childcare. Of course she does. But again, her opinions on this are similarly fascinating-yet-never-spoken. In a new interview in Harper’s Bazaar, Keira said:
“Childcare is unbelievably expensive. It should be…It's incredibly difficult, it should be well paid. But there is no option for a woman to go back to work unless she's being paid really, really well and can afford full-time care before [her child can] get into nursery. I think I've become unbelievably aware of that and how lucky I've been to be able to afford really good childcare, because otherwise it would be at least four years out of my career. I wouldn't be able to get back to where I'd been if I'd taken four years out.”
You know why I’m not cynical about this? Why I don’t think it’s just a bid for our praise, and a ‘I’m just like you, other moms!’ back-door lifestyle launch?
In order for those to work, celebs have to tell us how they’re just like us. Our struggles are basically the same, whether we’re making the median income for Middle America or millions of dollars a year!
But she’s not doing that. Instead she’s pointing out how fortunate she is, and using her platform to highlight what we don’t usually see celebrities show – in the ‘regular’ working world, the deck is scandalously stacked against women. It’s not the first time, either; she’s been talking about how, when she’s trapped on set for 15 hours a day with no time to do anything, her male coworkers confess they don’t have the same problems because ‘my wife does everything’. You don’t say!
Said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. Celebrities don’t need to be our role models—not least because they often don’t actually live in the real world. But if you’re looking for someone to appreciate, you could do a hell of a lot worse.