Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - Page 9 News List

How discipline is rapidly transforming into the new decadence

From the 5:2 diet to Tiger Mothers, discipline is now the guiding principle, but is it a step too far when OCD and increased workloads become badges of honor?

By Jess Cartner-Morley  /  The Guardian, LONDON

Benson reports having had “younger bloggers who want to write for us suggesting blogs about being OCD and proud. Connected to this is the barely concealed boast that one is geeky or nerdy about certain things — it is no longer enough to merely like something, is it?”

This new rosy tint to a work-obsessed, office-neat personality is starting to affect the way our homes look. Interiors magazines are abandoning the country house and seaside cottage ideals in favor of a more industrial aesthetic. Shabby-chic chandeliers have been replaced by light fixtures that celebrate the bare bulb and foxed mirrors over mantelpieces taken down in favor of utilitarian or abstract light-up signs — “LIVE” in neon, say, or “LUNCHEONETTE” in retro fairground bulbs.

Gwyneth Paltrow is the poster girl for the age of discipline. Paltrow has a higher profile now, when she makes only one film a year, than she did when she was wowing Hollywood and winning Oscars, by virtue of being a pioneer for a disciplined lifestyle.

It began with fitness and the hardcore transformation of her body through what she freely admitted was a grueling exercise and diet program. What was new was not the regime, it was that Paltrow championed it rather than disguised it. Before Paltrow, most actresses and models towed the party line (“eat what I want/fast metabolism”).

Since Paltrow, it has become de rigeur to own up to the effort.

“When I interview supermodels today they explain how their bodies have been ‘made’ with exercise and good diet, especially the Victoria’s Secret [US retailer of lingerie] ‘Angels,’” Candy said. “It is rare to meet one who says she can eat anything she wants and never goes to the gym.”

The Paltrow brand has since extended into family life.

Couples like Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin, maintain a strict abstention from goofy shows of public affection, only allow their children to watch cartoons in foreign languages and exclude most carbohydrates from the family kitchen.

Paltrow has become a figure that people either love or hate in popular culture, partly because we project onto her character the negative traits we associate with discipline (being dull company, not having sex) as well as the positive ones.

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