"If only I could be more like…"
We've all probably uttered this phrase. If only I could cook like, look like, dress like so-and-so-then I'd be happy. Chicago Jewish writer Rachel Bertsche, journalist, editor and bestselling author of MWF Seeking BFF, set out to see if living like the stars really does bring true happiness in her new book, Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time (Ballantine Trade Paperback Original).
With the goal of bettering herself, Bertsche takes on a new celebrity trait each month: Jennifer Aniston's diet and fitness routine, Gwyneth Paltrow's expertise in the kitchen, Sarah Jessica Parker's fashion sense, Tina Fey's work ethic, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's perfect marriage, Julia Roberts' serenity and ultimately tries to have it all just like Beyoncé.
As she tackles these celebrity lifestyles one at a time, Rachel faces real life restrictions-like, you know-time and money, and also opens up about her own personal journey and struggle with infertility. In the end, it's more about small steps toward self-improvement than it is about looking like you belong on the cover of a glossy magazine, and Bertsche takes us along for the ride on her sometimes funny, sometimes challenging journey.
Oy!Chicago talked to Bertsche about her Jewish identity, why she took on this challenge, and whether or not living like a celeb really can make you a happier, better person:
Oy!Chicago: What inspired you to take on this challenge and write this book?
Rachel Bertsche: I'd recently been laid off and was feeling just... blah. Definitely in a rut. I was working from home, often in my pajamas all day, and would meanwhile see pictures of people like Jennifer Aniston online and in tabloids, and she looked totally fabulous and together even when she was just out grocery shopping or pumping gas. All the celebrities had this glow and poise about them that I felt I was seriously lacking. I started wondering if I did what they did, would I feel together, too? And if so, would I be happier?
Thank you for sharing your personal journey to have a baby with your readers. Do you have any advice for others who are struggling with infertility issues?
Be willing to talk about it! Find support. I was so hesitant to talk with my friends about my struggles to get pregnant because I felt like a failure in some way, but this is something is largely out of our control, and so many women are going through similar issues. It really does feel better to remember that you're not alone.
What role does your Judaism play in your life today and how does your Judaism influence your writing?
My favorite time of year is Passover, when my entire family gathers in Chicago for seder. The Jewish traditions bring us all together, and so for me Judaism is associated with togetherness and community. Being with the people I love is so important to me, so it's probably not a huge surprise that that's reflected in my writing. I write a lot about relationships and social connections and that stems from the Jewish traditions I was raised with.
In the end, it seemed your journey wasn't so much about living like a celebrity, but rather it was about using them as inspiration to become the best version of yourself.
That's an accurate description. I hope other young women will be inspired to stop beating themselves up for not being as thin/impeccably dressed/glamorous as the celebrities we see everywhere, and instead try to make celebrity culture work for them by using whatever fabulous celebrity qualities they covet to inspire them to become their best selves.
Learn more: www.rachelbertsche.com