Gwyneth Paltrow — Iron Man actress, Goop entrepreneur, and all-around super-mom — has a lot to teach her fans: how to consciously uncouple (and what that even means), how to prepare elegant yet nutritious meals, and now, how to respond to an insult in a way that only makes you look better.
At Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit Tuesday, Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop asked Paltrow what she thought of Martha Stewart’s recent comments about Goop (Both Fortune and Real Simple share a parent company with TIME.) Stewart had said, “She just needs to be quiet. She’s a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart.” It was a fairly harsh criticism that seemed to crystallize public perception of Paltrow: that she’s somehow out-of-touch and imbued with a Hollywood vanity that invalidates her advice.
Contrary to Stewart, though, Paltrow seemed incredibly confident in her ability to deliver lines now, telling van Ogtrop sarcastically: “No one has ever said anything bad about me before, so I’m shocked and devastated. I’ll try to recover. If I’m really honest, I’m so psyched that she sees us as competition. I really am.”
It was the perfect rebuttal, complete with a strong dose of self-deprecating humor, for which Paltrow isn’t generally known. And Paltrow managed to turn Stewart’s remarks back around on her, turning a vicious shade attack into the sort of healthy competition that makes one try harder. Paltrow’s haters may not appreciate her perceived attitude of superiority, but this time, she did it better — with more perspective, wit, and tactical intelligence — than anyone could have expected.