Gwyneth Paltrow’s biggest controversies: ski crash trial to ‘starvation diet’ and ‘conscious uncoupling’

Gwyneth Paltrow is currently on trial in Utah, accused of crashing into a man on the ski slopes and causing significant injuries. But she is no stranger to controversy.

Here’s a look back at some of her most controversial moments.

Utah ski collision trial

Paltrow has been in a drawn-out legal battle with Terry Sanderson, 76, for seven years, culminating in the start of a civil trial on March 21 in Park City, Utah. Sanderson is suing Paltrow for $300,000 for allegedly crashing into him, causing him “permanent traumatic brain injury.” 

Paltrow is countersuing him for $1 in “symbolic damages” and attorney’s fees. 

She maintains that Sanderson actually skied into her on the beginner run and claims she stuck around until given the OK to leave by a Deer Valley Resort ski instructor. The 50-year-old actress also said in her countersuit that Sanderson previously admitted he didn’t have a clear memory of the accident. 

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Gwyneth Paltrow knows how to stir up controversy.

Gwyneth Paltrow knows how to stir up controversy. (Theo Wargo/WireImage)

Sanderson originally sued the actress for $3.1 million and claimed he was the victim of a hit-and-run. A judge dismissed the claim, and Deer Valley Resort and an instructor were removed from the lawsuit.

Gwyneth Paltrow sits in Park City, Utah, courtroom for 2016 ski accident lawsuit.

Gwyneth Paltrow sits in Park City, Utah, courtroom for 2016 ski accident lawsuit. (AP Images)

Extremely restrictive diet

Recently, the “Shakespeare in Love” actress stirred up backlash after she told a podcast she often eats bone broth for lunch and does an intermittent fast until morning after an early dinner of mostly vegetables. 

Her comments sparked accusations she was promoting a “starvation diet,” but the 50-year-old defended herself, saying she eats more than bone broth and vegetables and her remarks weren’t meant as advice for anyone else. 

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The "Shakespeare in Love" actress was accused of promoting a "starvation diet" after saying she often has only bone broth for lunch.

The “Shakespeare in Love” actress was accused of promoting a “starvation diet” after saying she often has only bone broth for lunch. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Goop)

“I eat full meals,” she insisted on her Instagram story. “I also have days where I eat whatever I want, French fries or whatever. My baseline has been to try to eat healthy and try to eat foods that really calm the system down.”

It’s tough being a nepo baby

The “Emma” star also waded into the “nepo baby” conversation last summer, telling Hailey Bieber her views on the benefits children of famous and well-connected parents get while trying to make it in the entertainment industry. 

Gwyneth Paltrow, pictured with actress mother Blythe Danner, said last year that "nepo babies" have to work twice as hard as actors who don't have famous families.

Gwyneth Paltrow, pictured with actress mother Blythe Danner, said last year that “nepo babies” have to work twice as hard as actors who don’t have famous families. (Bruce Birmelin/NBCU Photo Bank)

“As the child of somebody, you get access that other people don’t have. So the playing field is not level in that way,” Paltrow, who is the daughter of actress Blythe Danner and director Bruce Paltrow, told Bieber on the model’s “Who’s in My Bathroom?” series on YouTube.

But she said once nepo babies get their foot in the door of the industry, “Then you have to work almost twice as hard and be twice as good because people are ready to pull you down and say you don’t belong there and you’re only there because of your dad or your mom or whatever the case may be.”

Paltrow advised other children of famous parents that they “shouldn’t limit” themselves “because what I definitely believe is that nobody in the world – especially anybody that doesn’t know you – should have a negative impact on your path or the decisions that you make.” 

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Other nepo babies like Allison Williams, the daughter of journalist Brian Williams, have eschewed the argument that they don’t get taken as seriously as self-made nobodies, telling Vuture last December, “All that people are looking for is an acknowledgment that it’s not a level playing field. It’s just unfair. Period, end of the story, and no one’s really working that hard to make it fair. To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn’t the same – it’s ludicrous. It doesn’t take anything away from the work that I’ve done. It just means that it’s not as fun to root for me.”

The vagina candle

Goop's "This Smells Like My Vagina" candle is currently out of stock.

Goop’s “This Smells Like My Vagina” candle is currently out of stock. (Goop.com)

Paltrow has raised more than a few eyebrows through her lifestyle brand Goop, and the candle she released called “This Smells Like My Vagina” is a good example.

The candle, which immediately sold out when it first appeared on Goop’s website in 2020 and is currently out of stock, is described as “funny, gorgeous, sexy,” with a “beautifully unexpected scent,” according to the website.

It includes notes like “geranium, citrusy bergamot, and cedar absolutes juxtaposed with Damask rose and ambrette seed to put us in mind of fantasy, seduction, and a sophisticated warmth.”

The infamous vagina candle was followed up by the “This Smells Like My Orgasm” candle, and last year the company made the limited edition “Hands off My Vagina” candle to benefit the ACLU with abortion rights in mind. 

The “This Smells Like” scents also come in a perfume. 

Gwyneth Paltrow's "This Smells like My Vagina" candle immediately sold out when it appeared on Goop's website.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s “This Smells like My Vagina” candle immediately sold out when it appeared on Goop’s website. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The businesswoman told Jimmy Kimmel that the idea started off as a joke and she thought perfumer Douglas Little had just made one for her, “but then the next thing I knew, it was on my website.”

She clarified that the heavily floral-scented candle is not actually supposed to smell like a woman’s vagina. 

“You know, I think a lot of women have grown up with a certain degree of shame or embarrassment around this part,” she said, “So we’re kind of like, ‘Yo!’”

Vagina barbells and jade eggs

Candles aren’t the only genital-related item Paltrow has tried to sell – she’s also gotten plenty of backlash for promoting “vagina barbells” and little jade eggs meant to be placed inside a woman’s vagina for health benefits.

On her Netflix series “The Goop Lab,” business partners Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross were featured promoting a workshop they teach called Bodysex. One of the items the duo showcased and subsequently sold were “vagina barbells,” toys made of medical-grade steel that go for a cool $150 each.

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Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix series, "The Goop Lab," promoted the use of "vagina barbells."

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series, “The Goop Lab,” promoted the use of “vagina barbells.” (Reuters)

During the episode, Paltrow admitted that despite being a woman and giving birth to two children, she did not know the difference between a vagina and a vulva.

It was an interesting revelation, considering that she’d previously gotten herself into a bit of legal trouble for selling an item specifically meant to be inserted into the vagina.

In 2017, she released jade eggs and quartz eggs on Goop – small egg-shaped pieces of gemstones customers could purchase for just $66. If placed inside the vagina, Goop claimed they could “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.”

This was not true.

In turn, Goop was fined $145,000 in civil penalties for making these unproven claims. The company settled and agreed to pay the fine in addition to refunding customers that made a request.

As of today, you can still purchase your very own jade egg on Goop so that you can “feel the connection with your body by squeezing and releasing the egg.”

Made Yoga popular

In 2018, Paltrow appeared a bit out of touch again when she appeared to take credit for making yoga a trend. 

The ancient practice has been a popular form of exercise in the U.S. since at least the 1960s, and was initially brought here by immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. It has been a spiritual practice in India for over 5,000 years. 

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk have been married since 2018.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk have been married since 2018. (Getty)

“Forgive me if this comes out wrong,” the 50-year-old told the Wall Street Journal, “but I went to do a yoga class in L.A. recently, and the 22-year-old girl behind the counter was like, ‘Have you ever done yoga before?’ And literally I turned to my friend, and I was like, ‘You have this job because I’ve done yoga before.'”

She later repeated the story in a profile with the Financial Times.

Movie stardom is harder than a ‘regular job’

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's daughter Apple was born in 2004.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s daughter Apple was born in 2004. (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

In 2014, Paltrow rubbed several people the wrong way when she spoke out about how it was easier to raise children with a “regular” job than as an actress. 

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening,” she told E! News while explaining she was stepping back from acting to spend more time with her children. Her kids, Apple and Moses, were 9 and 7 at the time. 

She continued, “When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

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Gwyneth Paltrow is known for her questionable beliefs on the topic of health.

Gwyneth Paltrow is known for her questionable beliefs on the topic of health. (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for goop)

Paltrow later addressed the backlash on her Goop Website in a post titled “Ending the Mommy Wars.”

“A few weeks ago during an interview, I was asked why I have only worked on one film a year since having children,” she wrote. “My answer was this: Film work takes one away from home and requires 12-14 hours a day, making it difficult to be the one to make the kids their lunch, drive them to school, and put them to bed. So I have found it easier on my family life to make a film the exception, and my 9-5 job the rule.”

She added that she never meant having a “9-5 job is easier,” and that “a lot of heat was thrown my way, especially by other working mothers who somehow used my out-of-context quote as an opportunity to express feelings (perhaps projected) on the subject.”

She also lamented that women often think “negatively, on the choices of other women.”

Paltrow, who is worth an estimated $200 million, neglected to mention the differences in pay between being a Hollywood actress and working a “regular job.”

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‘Conscious uncoupling’

When Paltrow and her ex-husband Chris Martin announced their split after 10 years of marriage in 2014, the couple coined a phrase, saying they planned to “consciously uncouple,” instead of just saying they were divorcing.

The term, which the actress later admitted “sounded a bit full of itself, painfully progressive and hard to swallow,” immediately gave way to jokes for that very reason.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin split in 2014 after 10 years of marriage.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin split in 2014 after 10 years of marriage. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)

In an op-ed for British Vogue in 2020, Paltrow reflected on the backlash, writing, “The public’s surprise gave way quickly to ire and derision. A strange combination of mockery and anger that I had never seen. The intensity of the response saw me bury my head in the sand deeper than I ever had in my very public life.”

She wrote that the term was introduced to her by the couple’s therapist, and she appreciated the sentiment of divorcing amicably and trying to avoid bitterness in the separation more than she liked the term itself. 

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Paltrow, who has two children with Martin, married producer Brad Falchuk in 2018, but says she remains friends with her ex. 

Fox News’ Tracy Wright and Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report. 

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