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Ina Garten Is an Anti-Productivity Queen

Other celebrities want to tell you how to live — but she leads by luxurious example

With the new year comes the urge to improve, to strive, to do better. That’s all well and good if it’s an expression of inner purpose, but it’s quite another when a millionaire celebrity gives us self-actualization homework to further their cringey lifestyle brand. I’m confident in saying that the actress Reese Witherspoon has close to zero insight into what you or I need to add or subtract from our daily routine, yet she persists in believing she’s cracked some secret code.

Thank god we have a truly enlightened guru to put Witherspoon in her place — the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, who offers a polite comment and some crystal-clear subtext: 

“Fuck off, Reese.”

Garten is not only a model of how to reject the cheap hacks of hustle culture and “mindfulness” propaganda — she’s also among the only famous people encouraging the public to enjoy their reliable pleasures instead of flogging themselves for indulgence. It’s not as though she’s lazy, either. Long before building her homemaker’s culinary empire with an iconic grocery store, cookbooks and a TV show, Garten earned an MBA, was a budget analyst in the White House for presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and flipped houses in tony D.C. neighborhoods. She worked hard to get where she is now, and has no problem kicking back at the age of 73.

I don’t see why it’s so difficult for other well-known entertainers and influencers to quit preying on our collective insecurities, reminding us we still haven’t achieved the kind of success they have. Is Gwyneth Paltrow’s day-to-day life really so dull that she has to sell $75 vagina-scented candles to unfulfilled women? Does the Family Feud audience want to hear a corny motivational speech from Steve Harvey after the show? At what point would you have enough money and recognition to kill the part of your brain that wants to swindle or lecture your fans? Because Ina Garten is already there. And you can bet she won’t be hyping crypto bullshit.

Few will ever reach the top in America, and it’s a tiny bit insulting when the richest act as though they know the foolproof tricks and habits to get you there. Somehow, it becomes more condescending with each reminder. Start the day with a big glass of water and get 10 minutes of outdoor light… come on, Reese. You act like we’re housebound invalids who can barely sustain organ function. 

But in any case, Hollywood stardom doesn’t make you an expert on personal development, and neither does Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon recipe make her French. Take a page from her and try to understand that not everything has to become a girlboss moment. Sometimes we want to stay up late, eat buttery food and not bother justifying our small existence. It’s fine to relish simple joys amid great stress. Have a damn Aperol spritz.

And Ina, if you need a guy (besides your beloved husband Jeffrey) to loaf around the estate, get drunk, sample desserts, admire the change of seasons and never spoil the immaculate, leisurely vibes with nonsense about what we’re “supposed” to be doing, give me a call.