Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Celebs self-helping themselves

By Susan Daly
Wednesday Sep 15 2010

Even the wealthy, the beautiful and the famous need a hand to be happy from time to time. Religion, after all, is not only the opiate of the masses.

Tom Cruise gets his jollies from Scientology, Richard Gere found peace with Buddhism and Madonna has embraced Kabbalah.

As for those who believe that God helps those who help themselves, the self-help industry is booming.

Julia Roberts is pounding red carpets all over the world right now to bring her movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert's self-discovery memoir Eat, Pray, Love to the masses. The Power, the follow-up to bestseller The Secret, is flying off the shelves.

The self-improvement biz is worth billions and self-help books sell in their millions. Some celebrities have decided they know so much about success that they are qualified to write their own.

Two recent additions to the genre come from Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall who wrote Being a Girl: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Teen Life, and pop singer Jessica Simpson who penned I Do: Achieving Your Dream Wedding. Because you want your teenage daughter to take tips from Samantha Jones, and you really want wedding advice from a woman who put her newlywed life on reality TV and then got divorced.

Some celebrities wisely stick to being believers. Demi Moore is a big fan of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra and Naomi Campbell has applauded the work of I Can Make You Thin hypnotist Paul McKenna.

What better endorsement can a self-help book have than to be photographed under the arm of a celebrity?

We take a look at what star has been spotted carrying which self-help book -- and whether they seem to be learning anything from them ...

THE BOOK: Toxic Friends -- The Antidote For Women Stuck In Complicated Relationships, by Susan Shapiro Barash

THE CELEB: Lindsay Lohan.

Spotted with the book in July, a week before entering jail for violating her probation.

DID IT WORK? The book helps the reader to identify 10 types of 'toxic' female friends that need dumping.

These include The Trophy Friend, The Doormat and The Misery Lover, who only likes you when you're down.

Ah, that explains it. Li-Lo's troubles were because she had the wrong people around her. Problem solved.

THE BOOK: Living In The Moment by Gary Null

A natural health guru advises how to have a "blissful" existence by freeing yourself from consumerism and slowing down your life.

THE CELEB: Paris Hilton.

She displayed the book on walkabout in front of the paparazzi after a break-up with a boyfriend in 2008.

DID IT WORK? Null believes in freeing oneself from the traps of materialism. In July, Hilton spent €3,000 on 12 pairs of sunglasses while on holiday in St Tropez.

In August, she was charged with cocaine possession. It is possible Hilton misread the subtitle of Living In The Moment: A Prescription For The Soul for self-medication of an entirely less spiritual type.

THE BOOK: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Former depressive Tolle discovers that the ego, with all its emotional baggage of memories, stands in the way of spiritual awakening.

THE CELEB: Jim Carrey.

The actor opened a lecture for Tolle last year saying he now understood "how thought was just an illusory thing and how thought is responsible for some, if not, all the suffering we experienced".

DID IT WORK? Some would argue that with a man who built his success on Dumb and Dumber is already a convert to not thinking too much.

Saying that, a Time magazine interviewer to whom he recommended Tolle's work in 2007 said that Carrey "wasn't at all annoying. Yes, he's a little too happy, but he seems very comfortable and mellow and unguarded and unpretentious."

THE BOOK: The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Every positive thinking message spouted in the past 80 years repackaged as an ancient guide to having it all.

THE CELEB: Oprah Winfrey.

The queen of book endorsements. She dedicated two of her 2007 shows to The Secret.

DID IT WORK? The Secret claims you can have the perfect life if you just wish hard enough for it.

Oprah is certainly worth a bundle but with her ever-fluctuating body weight, we wonder what she thinks of The Secret's advice to weight watchers: "If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it." That's right. Only look at Oprah when she's down to a size 12-14.

THE BOOK: The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

Two dating coaches teach women how to snag a husband by responding to one out of every four emails from a guy and not having sex until the third date at the earliest.

THE CELEB: Beyoncé.

The Rules gals quote B on their website as telling US Weekly that although "there are certain things in there that are unrealistic, it [The Rules] has worked for me".

DID IT WORK? Well she's married, ain't she?

She dated rapper Jay-Z for six years before they wed. That's in direct contravention of Fein and Schneider's rule that if he likes it, then he should put a ring on it after no more than two years.

Nor is it easy to picture her taking on this top 10 tip from the ladies: "Take care of yourself, take a bubble bath and build up your soul with positive slogans like, 'I am a beautiful woman. I am enough'."

THE BOOK: Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

"A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and look fabulous."

THE CELEB: Victoria Beckham.

The former Spice girl was papped taking the book down from a shelf in an LA boutique in 2007.

DID IT WORK? Surely the question should be, 'Did she need it?'

Posh Spice was already thin as a rake when she brandished the diet book. It is possible that she was having a laugh at her own expense and at critics of her pin-thin figure by waving it at the paparazzi.

The book's straight-talking advice sounds pretty suited to Victoria's rigid body control though -- the authors tell readers "you are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin" and that "soda is liquid Satan".

THE BOOK: Collected Poems of Derek Walcott, 1948-1984

Not quite a self-help manual but Walcott, who emerged from the isolation of an ex-British colony in the West Indies to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, is probably an inspiration to the self-made man.

THE CELEB: Barack Obama.

Not quite a celebrity, but definitely rather famous, Obama was spotted carrying it while leaving his daughters to school the morning after winning the US Presidential election in 2008.

DID IT WORK? One of Walcott's most famous works is his 1973 autobiographical epic poem Another Life in which he tells the reader: "You want to hear my history? Ask the sea."

Obama could adopt it as the perfect talk-to-the-hand response to the 'birthers' who claim that he is not an American citizen because he was born in Hawaii.

That should keep them guessing.


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