In case you missed it, Gwyneth Paltrow has decided to see how the little people live by attempting to keep to a food budget of $29 a week. This will show her, and the WORLD, what it’s like to live on food stamps. The challenge is part of the Food Bank for New York City’s #FoodBankNYCChallenge, and it’s really, really, really…stupid.
Darlena Cunha at TIME labeled this very accurately as “poverty tourism,” that is, sampling small bits and pieces of poverty without dealing with the full, ugly truth of it–because once your challenge or sojourn or whatever is over, you get to go right back to your normal life.
Undoubtedly, someone or some people out there think this is a good idea, and that old Goop-y should get some serious street cred for this. But I don’t. Here’s why. Despite Paltrow’s best attempts at living within this budget, she’s still going to be wearing designer clothes, living in her splendid and perfectly designed house, using her cell phone, driving or being driven in a luxury vehicle, and feeding her pets only organic free-range food–which means she’s not experiencing poverty. At all.
But I believe in Goop. I think somewhere, deep down, this effort is coming from a place of good intentions. So, out of the kindness of my own heart, I’ve taken the liberty of listing several other challenges she should dedicate herself to to really understand poverty and become a better, more grateful person.
1. Don’t wear anything that costs more than $15. For you, this means a flip-flop. Singular. And even that’s pushing it.
2. Acquire 50 percent of your meals from fast food establishments. These are sometimes the only option for impoverished working families. No, Pret A Manger doesn’t count.
3. Buy a tracfone. No, your personal assistant will not be able to sync your calendars to it, but I hear they’re selling them in Kate Spade patterns now!
4. Import only water from New Jersey to your house. Wait no, that’s privatized rich people shit now. Import water from somewhere landlocked. Like Missouri. Drink it. Bathe in it. If (and only if) you can Bear Grylls a filter out of dirty In-N-Out napkins and old pipe cleaners, by all means filter it.
5. Stop dyeing or lightening your hair. That is, with anything other than that weird dollar store Sun-In stuff kids used exclusively in the 90’s.
6. Stop taking or using any and all birth control that isn’t covered by Obamacare. Which yes, you will have to go on to really *get* the experience.
7. Find the room in your mansion that is closest in size to an income-adjusted, HUD managed studio apartment. For you, this will most likely be your fourth shoe closet. Restrict yourself to living among the Manolo’s and Louboutin’s. No, you cannot sell them for cash to go to Pret.
8. Also hire three people off the street to come live with you. In said closet. Let them use your limited resources accordingly.
9. Learn the prison workout system. Because ain’t no one going to Soul Cycle or Pi-Yo-Jazz-obics on your budget.
10. Walk or take public transportation everywhere. If you can’t get there on a bus, train, trolley, or bike, guess you’re not going. Bummer, I hear Nice is really lovely this time of year.
11. Do all of these steps simultaneously, with no break. Complain to one of your friends about how difficult it is. Have them tell you to get a job, that America is a bootstraps country, and that luxury is just at your fingertips.
You just don’t want it enough.