My first reaction? Fuck Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you haven’t been assaulted with the constant news, our Gwyneth-and-savior heroically decided to live on Food Stamps for a week—or rather the food stamp allotment of $29.00 for one person. Because she cares—about “the poor.”
I am being unfair to Gwyneth. She was actually challenged by Food Network “star” Billy something, I think. I don’t know. I’m too poor for cable. Anyway, she took the challenge, which I guess is something she thought was going to help someone somewhere by getting money to a food bank. It’s noble if you stop thinking… riiiiight now.
I am one who bitches on the internet about how celebrities should “do something” as opposed to just writing a check, leaving it to us down here in the trenches to do the work. This is literally the first time I have ever fervently wished a celebrity had just written an check, Instagrammed it, tagged #thepoor #helping and then went off to celebrate by swimming with dolphins in champagne, or whatever rich people do, I don’t know. I don’t know how truly rich people live, much like Gwyneth doesn’t really know how the poor live.
First off, the limes. I do not know if you saw her picture of what her $29.00 got her but it was absolutely just what I would have bet money on her to buy. She got a pound of black beans (Dry! Good job!), eggs, brown rice and approximately $23 in limes. If anything, we need to be doing a limetervention on her citrus addiction. Unless she is planning on trussing up her food budget with a truckload of Sweet‘n Low vodka gimlets, there is no reason for that many limes in any food stamp-based budget.
It’s like no one told her about Top Ramen, which is a crime. I know so many ways to dress up Top Ramen I should buy an RV and create a food cart called “White Trash Dreams” in which all we sell are bowls of Top Ramen served with whatever we have in the fridge that day. The specialty will be called Payday, and it’ll be a steak.
I understand that the issue isn’t really Paltrow and her mind-bendingly out-of-touch reaction to a complicated social problem. She’s white, rich, blond and thin. If I were all of those things, I wouldn’t even acknowledge you on the street (there is a reason I am fat and brunette: God needed me humble).
The issue is that there is a trend toward “poverty tourism.” Now, I was raised poor, homeless in my teens (briefly), and have been on SNAP. However, I run in pretty good circles these days and I hear of things like, “My Becky is doing a project for college where she’s going to sleep on the street for a night with her class to experience homelessness, isn’t that a HOOT?!” No, it’s not a hoot, it’s endemic of our class divide in this country that people who are even middle class have zero contact with people who live in poverty. If I ever mention to people above a certain class level that I have been poor/homeless, I get two reactions: complete disgust that I would say it out loud, or fascination that I still have all of my teeth and am allowed at the same party. I am not exaggerating. Sometimes, I do it for fun at fancy events.
Stop doing that. STOP IT. Either stop it or fucking commit. Commit to living poor for one year and I’ll take it as a real gesture and not as an affront to families who live in poverty year in and year out with no reprieve. But curiosity runs both ways.
So, I’ve decided to take the Gwyneth challenge, only in reverse.
For one week (with your helpful donations), I am going to heroically live on only $8,500.00. I will—and I would like to stress the great lengths I am going through to achieve this heart-wrenching reality; get dermabrasion, Swedish massage, and a full body buff—everyday. I will have my food prepared by a vegan macrobiotic chef and have a full-time housekeeper, driver and personal trainer to cater to my every whim. Because I love Regular Americans™, I will have my personal assistant write to my fans and I will create a stamp for her to use with my signature, so the little people will know I care. Maybe one of them can sell it on eBay for food. The poor have eBay right? See? I’m helping! #Iamgwyneth
*Sam Davinow came up with #IamGwyneth and it is genius.
*(The rate of alcohol use by food stamp recipients is actually lower than the national average, and you cannot buy booze on SNAP.http://billmoyers.com/2013/10/08/six-myths-about-food-stamps/)