Gwyneth Paltrow and GOOP had another GOOPfest this past weekend. I know because several reporters who attended reached out for comment as I am apparently the only medically certified GOOP expert.
What a time to be alive.
Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t revisit GOOPlandia? I touched that void and it was frightening. There was no way I was going to expose myself to that much malignant narcissism and snake oil again, not even for you guys.
I chose instead to attend an evidence based wellness conference organized by female physicians. The comparisons were stark. The Canadian Women In Medicine conference featured experts speaking on nutrition, apps for time/life management, and great information for parents regarding Internet hygiene for their kids among other things. When a speaker pushed the boundaries evidence wise the women were not afraid to speak up and ask for data.
At GOOP no one gets to ask questions.
As I didn’t attend the West Coast GOOPfest my assessment of the snake oil celebration comes from quizzing the interviewers and what I read online.
GOOP apparently featured their medium again. I wonder if she still thinks death isn’t real and is still asking if anyone who could afford $600 or more for a ticket thought about buying a handbag? So insightful the messages from the beyond. Then again, maybe she realized there might be repeat GOOPsters and so she asked if anyone thought about buying shoes?
Turmeric has apparently been replaced by charcoal as the ONE TRUE FOOD. The sale of turmeric products must have plateaued. It seems that GOOP chooses its food more on its Instagram potential than nutritional content.
As one does for health.
There was apparently lots of talk of belly fat. This is apparently a prime concern of very rich, thin white women. Once you no longer have to worry about small pox and measles due to the work of the masses I guess you have time to worry about the real health problems affecting women today.
It is interesting that Paltrow speaks so much about empowering women and yet she is so stuck on the misogynistic ideal of a woman. This was her same message in January. Internalized misogyny presented as feminism.
Paltrow is also still not impressed with science. According to USA Today, she said “There are many, many healing modalities that have been around for a really long time that don’t have double-blind placebo-backed studies.”
Ok, if a therapy has been around since, like, forever surely there must be something more than a biologically implausible hypothesis and the word of the person selling it to go on? Although when there are studies, say for example the fact that supplements and multivitamins have been proven to increase all cause mortality so much so that to use them as a placebo is considered unethical by experts, the data is conveniently ignored. Also, I’m not sure anyone would fund my study on psychic vampire repellent.
Paltrow is also quoted by USA Today as saying they are opening “the forum for discussion” and are apparently “not suggesting that anyone do anything.”
I’m sorry, that’s fucking bullshit.
If you are selling the product you are suggesting someone use it. That is sort of the point. The article on jade eggs suggested how women should wear them in their vaginas, not how to use them as paperweights or doorstops.
If you feaure someone as your “trusted expert,” for example the Medical Medium who talks with a ghost to dispense health care, you are suggesting people buy his book and follow his advice.
Do the words “trusted expert” and “suggesting” mean something else to GP?
The worst statement from Paltrow in USA Today is the following:
“Women are not lemmings. Just because we are raising a question doesn’t mean that we’re expecting somebody to follow our advice. We believe women are intuitive enough and intelligent enough to hear both sides of a lot of things and make a decision for themselves that’s resonant for them.”
This idea that critics think women are lemmings if of course offensive (and we’ll get to that), but it also made me chuckle. I assume Paltrow means that women won’t blindly follow bad advice to their own demise. Well, lemmings don’t do that either. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game “the lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic “lemming migration” was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow-covered lazy-Susan style turntable.”
Excuse me while I catch my breath.
Yes, lemmings were herded off a cliff by powerful Hollywood people for profit.
Of course women can decide their care for themselves, but to do that in an empowered way they must have scientifically accurate information, not fairy tales about toxins, lectins, jade, ghosts and lemmings. False information, often the staple at GOOP, it is the exact opposite of empowerment.
What meaningful information does GP think a woman should take away from the post claiming bras cause cancer? What should a woman glean from the doctor shilling the non-existent post natal depletion who has handy supplements conveniently sold at GOOP? Or $5,000 infrared saunas for cancer? Of the idea that apricots can tell time so you know when to eat them (that’s from the Medical Medium, his writing is a fucking word salad, that’s the best I could do).
How can a woman hope to make meaningful decisions about her health when a large part of the information presented is cherry picked or simply fabricated? How do people decide what is correct when half-truths and the word of ghosts are offered as worthy of “discussion?” I mean, I have questions!?
At best what you get at GOOP is harmless. For example, the bath soaks. Emollients in the water have been shown to have no benefit for the skin. If you like them, great, but they will not help you dermatologically speaking and could be an irritant. At the other end of the spectrum safety wise her products could give you rectal trauma, toxic shock syndrome, and cancer. They might also cause someone to delay treatment.
Why do I care?
My severely premature son, Victor, suffered terribly with gastroesophageal reflux and was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He was on oxygen for over a year and he projectile vomited after every feed. His mouth and nose filled with vomit and his oxygen levels plumeted. It was frightening, even as a doctor, to see him stop breathing, but I had jump into action to deep suction, stimulate him to start breathing, and swap out his oxygen tubing. I had about three minutes. This happened with every feed. All day and all night. For months.
Medicine had nothing to offer so I went down the rabbit hold of Internet reflux therapies. I made formula switches I shouldn’t have and other treatment decisions I now regret. Not one worked and I just ended up spending a lot of money and driving myself crazy. Finally, I just gave up and slept in a chair with him upright against my chest. For a year. His lower esophageal sphincter eventually matured and the vomiting stopped.
One night while he was sleeping on my chest I began to fret about his twisted neck and right arm and hand. Why wasn’t the physical therapy helping? I pulled my laptop over and started researching his cerebral palsy and stumbled upon a stem cell clinic. Never have I ever wanted anything more in my entire life than a procedure to cure his cerebral palsy. Oh God I can still feel that terrible, aching desire. I yearned for that cure.
The clinic was in China. It was very expensive, but I could afford it if I cashed in some retirement funds.
And then I realized if I could fall down into that pit anyone could. I might have injured my child by the therapy or by slacking off on the daily physical therapy because we’d done a “miracle” cure.
I doubled down on his exercises and started designing more home regimens because I knew about neuroplasticity. I constantly corrected his hand position. I put him in a chair so he had to use his weak side to turn to see the TV. I employed every evidenced based and common-sense strategy I could dream up.
This week Victor graduates from middle school with straight As. His stomach is a little twitchy and he can handle about one or two rides at an amusement park. That’s what I can handle and I never had reflux.
GOOP is couture for health. GP and gang offer very high-priced, fancy and cool sounding cures that, like runway fashion, are impractical. Sure, her friends can drop hundreds of dollars for a useless V-steam at a fancy spas, but now there are knock off low cost spas as well as home V steam apparati aplenty on Amazon.
Paltrow sets the trends, science and outcome be damned.
GOOP is also fast food for health. It’s alluring and offers quick fixes with zero substance. It is the illusion of health, just as fast food is the illusion of nutrition. At least with McDonalds you get to drink the coffee and there are no ghosts involved.
Choice means making decisions that are right for you. If after hearing that a jade egg could give you toxic shock syndrome and that the way it is advertised for use on GOOP is incorrect and potentially harmful you still choose to use it, it is your body. If after hearing that taking supplements means you are more likely to die you still want to take them, that is your choice.
It’s ironic that the way GOOP and Gwyneth Paltrow sell product makes them like the Disney filmmakers who drove lemmings to their death for a movie.
The GOOPsters have a vision and the facts are not going to get in the way of a show or profit.
That doesn’t sound like much of a discussion to me at all.