Another week, yet another celebrity lifestyle site. This one has a twist though, I promise.
Big Bang Theory star and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik has launched a lifestyle site, GrokNation. It’s smart and kooky and not trying to be chic or artisanal or solve all your problems (as if shoving salad into a mason jar has ever solved anyone’s problem). It’s meant as a place where Mayim, who has experience with blogging, can talk about a range of issues, from her favourite kitchen utensils to her reason for homeschooling her two children.
This isn’t your typical lifestyle site in that there is no e-commerce aspect or focus on aesthetics. It’s the #askhermore of celebrity lifestyle, which is a precarious position. The MiniVan Majority loves to do two things with celebrity mothers: 1. Demand that they pick a side on every issue from co-sleeping to driver’s ed 2. Tell celebrity parents that everything they are doing is wrong/dangerous/irresponsible and their kids are raised by nannies.
So, where does GrokNation come into this conversation?
I knew this site would be different from the first post I clicked on, which is about homeschooling. Mayim confronts the perception we have about celebrities and their privilege right off the top, saying she doesn’t homeschool out of a sense of entitlement. She gives extremely specific reasons and also includes the logistics – who does what in terms of teaching, tutoring, shuffling kids to activities. The post was interesting, it made me question why I’ve always thought homeschooling was a little weird, and it in no way tried to convert me or convince me that this is the right choice for my family.
And Mayim gets to the point beyond the point. It’s incredibly refreshing for someone to not just explain what they do, but how they do it. This is key, because the blanket statements about doing the school run every day or having dinner on the table every night at 6 don’t really do anyone any good unless you are willing to break that achievement down in 15 minutes increments. Who cooked the chicken? That’s what I want to know.
But, I understand why famous moms want to stay away from specifics. It can certainly be a no-win deal. If celebs only show the filtered side, like showing up on a red carpet or front row at a fashion show, people say, well that’s not “real” parenting. If they publically offer their opinions on schooling, vaccine schedules and suitable snack options, then it’s “don’t tell me how to parent when you have 10 nannies.” Very few of them can please the masses. (Jennifer Garner is a rare exception. At least 3 times a week I hear from someone who “loves her!” Especially now.)
I don’t know how Mayim will fare, but she has a lot of credibility to back up her opinions (and, despite a lot of media, is not above taking to Facebook to clarify her position on vaccines). She’s had a lot of finger wagging to answer to in the past. She was eviscerated for breastfeeding her kids “too long” and told that attachment parenting was freakish. Through it all she was pretty calm about the whole thing, and, as I said at the time, she could back her sh-t up without dumping on anyone else – click here for a refresher. I hope that she can continue that with her quirky blog.
There is no feeling that she’s entering lifestyle for Act II of her career. She has two kids. She’s divorced and co-parenting. She’s mourning the death of her father. She’s in it. If you think about all the famous women who have waded into lifestyle (Jessica Alba, Gwyneth, Drew Barrymore, Blake Lively, Reese Witherspoon, Ashley Tisdale, Lauren Conrad), Mayim might be the one who works the most, or at least the most consistently, out of all of them. Maybe that’s why this project doesn’t feel vain or too precious.
Think of Mayim like a parallel universe Gwyneth; swap out the pedigree with education and vaginal steaming with posts on aging in Hollywood. Mayim is vegan, Gwyneth cleanses. Gwyneth has gurus and advisors, Mayim is deeply religious. Gwyneth occasionally allows her kids a Coke and some Oreos, Mayim uses a microwave. But one of the key ways GrokNation differs from the rest is that Goop and Preserve and The Honest Co. often talk about making women’s lives easier. GrokNation doesn’t seem that interested in easy. It seems more invested in being interesting and thoughtful.
You don’t post about Amy Schumer and gun control if you are concerned with being beloved or admired or fawned over or easy breezy. You do it to stir sh-t up. And why the f-ck not? She’s a feminist and an actress and a mom and a scientist with a PhD and an educational advocate and a proud nerd. Isn’t this the person we want making noise?
Click here to visit GrokNation.