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Bad GOOP Advice, snake oil

Gwyneth Paltrow wants to take your money. The press is helping her

The Wall Street Journal Magazine (WSJM) has a puff piece on Gwyneth Paltrow and her pile of GOOP. People Magazine has an even more cloying companion piece. I expect that from People, but honestly I thought the WSJM might actually offer more than a thinly veiled advertisement.

I thought wrong.

Both articles have a serious case of nose-up-ass disease. I’m tempted to prescribe GOOP’s coffee enema kit, but I don’t want anyone to burn their rectum on my account. Although I would pay money to watch Paltrow walk us through a coffee enema step-by-step. According to WSJM she tries almost all the products GOOP sells.

If she tries them (or reportedly tries them), then when you buy them you can be just like Paltrow. Or at least aspire to be like her. GOOP is, after all, aspirational. Because that is of course what health should be. Aspirational.

WSJM gives Paltrow prime real estate to tell people how amazing she is, but also how she is just like the proletariat (for example, after getting married she and her new husband still have separate households, because teenagers). And how she made yoga and eating healthy cool in 2008.

No one ever thought of yoga or salads before Paltrow.

We learn how she invented the idea of marketing products and how her gumption and products got her the supposed millions that GOOP has raked in. Genetics, privilege, wealth, or the fact that she can be the subject of a piece in one of the most influential newspapers in the country and be asked to prove not one claim have little to do with her success. 

It is the standard Paltrow profile. They are never interviews. There are no real questions and of course no answers. Even when she was interviewed earlier this year by the BBC and asked about me (that “Canadian gynecologist”) she gave a non answer that was simply accepted and the reporter moved on.

As we rarely, if ever, read an actual interview with Paltrow it suggests to me they are not allowed. It would be nice if reporters and publications included the terms that got them access to publish images of Paltrow in a bikini.

Paltrow treats us to her standard “trailblazing” talk that is fairly rehearsed by now. Many of the phrases are exactly the same as those that appear elsewhere. There is no insight into why she thinks her products supposedly sell so well or actual answers to the many, many, many questions many, many, many people of science and common sense have asked. There is also no proof of this super, amazing testing process that goes on at GOOP. It’s all vague and mystical and looks expensive.

Like Paltrow.

We are told about her new line of supplements for menopause. We are never told they are useless, potentially harmful, and are about $5 worth of product marked up for $90 a month ($75 with a subscription). 

Paltrow is, according to her biggest fan Paltrow, a wellness and health trailblazer. The actual health trails she has blazed are not mentioned. Who actually gets better and from what condition? Who knows?! But here is Paltrow in a bikini on a beach!

She sells supplements. She promotes a Medical Medium. This is cool and edgy. Mechanisms of action are…unimportant? So we must simply take the world of a genetically gifted, Hollywood actress with a grade 12 science education that everything works. And that a medium is something people should use for health. 

Fascinating is the new facts.

GOOP is apparently making piles of cash, which is evil when Big Pharma does it but never when it is the Wellness Industrial Complex. If you get your product approved by the FDA, can prove it contains what you claim, pay for advertising on television, and mark your product up in an egregious manner you are bad. If you do not prove your product works, cannot prove it contains what you claim, get free puff pieces in major magazines, and mark your product up in an egregious manner then you are trailblazer.

No one ever requires GOOP or Paltrow to prove their financials. Maybe they are dripping in cash and Paltrow is at home laughing it up while she is cracking off orgasms with the $3,490.00 vibrator she sells on GOOP (so I guess has personally road-tested), but I wouldn’t take the word of someone who claimed jade eggs were an Ancient Chinese practice for anything.

I always wonder if you are not telling the truth about one thing, what else are you not being honest about?

Sometimes I wonder when GOOP sales are flagging or a venture isn’t going as well as expected if she pulls strings and gets a splashy piece about her awesome family and amazing business and how she is so cool and if you buy GOOP you can be a little like her (not a lot, just a little) to prove to the investors, or perhaps the people at Netflix, that she really can monetize those eyeballs?

Yes GOOP was fined over misleading health statements, but the WSJM doesn’t actually connect the idea that lying about a health product is a bad look for someone who claims to be interested in health. The jade eggs were always a lie. Never mind that they can’t fix your hormones or give you female energy (or what ever the fuck they were supposed to do), they were never even used in Ancient China. Promoting vaginal jade eggs as an Ancient Chinese practice is nothing but Orientalism. That the author lets all that slide is striking, especially as this quote makes the cut:

“It’s so beautiful to see people feeling empowered by natural solutions or ancient modalities alongside science and medicine.”

*Raises hand. Excuse me, but what if one so-called ancient modality isn’t even ancient. Might others possibly also not be, um, quite as advertised?*

And as per the usual Paltrow puff piece we doctors are simply enraged.

I don’t know, I mean rage seems a reasonable response to women being sold useless products, exposure to medical conspiracy theories, and telling women they should listen to a dude who talks to a fucking ghost for health information.

No really.

This is what GOOP’s beloved Medical Medium wrote for them recently about celery.

If you only ate celery, you wouldn’t be able to receive all of its concentrated undiscovered cluster salts. These cluster salts are not just mineral salts; they’re far more specialized. Mineral salts are critical for our bodies to function, but there is an undiscovered subgroup of sodium that I call cluster salts, and these are unique and special in the way they support the liver’s personalized immune system and bind onto toxins and help flush them from the liver.

Those words are on GOOP and they called it fascinating. It’s not fascinating, it’s fucking batshit.

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(I am not responsible for any injury you may have sustained from the eye roll that screenshot above from GOOP may have induced).

Anyone who has completed grade 5 should know that sodium is an element and so does not have a subgroup and that a salt is a compound formed from the reaction of an acid with a base. And yet GOOP and Paltrow use their substantial platform to push this misinformation out into the ether.

Apparently pointing this and all the other GOOPshit out to Paltrow are the “slings and arrows” that she must bear to empower people.

Sweetheart, don’t confuse correcting you with criticism. 

Promoting GOOP in this way is beyond irresponsible. It’s no different from giving Andrew Wakefield or the latest Vegan blogger who thinks periods are toxic a puff piece. All three are fascinating cultural health phenomena. None can help you achieve health by any metric.

What Paltrow offers is not unique, it’s snake oil. The only revolutionary thing about Paltrow and GOOP it is how no one questions her or asks for proof.

How about just asking her to define how her menopausal supplement, Madame Ovary, offers support? The supplement is mentioned in WJSM, but without any follow up it is just advertising. What does support mean? Exactly what biological process is being supported and how?

But no. 

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 6.11.12 AM

Even the not pure scammy GOOP products almost all have some level of scam — conventional tampons do not have toxins and while you can use charcoal toothpaste, it’s not as good as toothpaste with fluoride. Promoting these products as supposedly safer alternatives when they are not is, shall we say, somewhat disingenuous.

As for Paltrow’s claim she is helping women who have been neglected by medicine? She has helped spread misinformation and lies about the pelvic floor, the vagina, the uterus, condoms, sexual lubricant, breast cancer, bras, tampons, and menopause.

Oh yeah, and she gave her platform to a doctor who believes AIDS is a Big Pharma scam.

That is not helping women, that is being an equal opportunity offender across the reproductive health spectrum.

Paltrow reminds me of John Brinkley, the failed medical student who opened a practice of implanting goat testicles in men — for the exact same symptoms that Paltrow uses to shill her garbage to women, fatigue and loss of vigor. I find it hard to say the patriarchy drives women to Paltrow when a man used the exact same gambit on men for the same symptoms she tells women are due to menopause or adrenal fatigue. 

It was adrenal fatigue two years ago when she had supplements for that. Now it is menopause.

Paltrow, like Brinkley, is profiting from the deficiencies in medicine not offering solutions.

I mean she literally brags about her profits and monetizing eyeballs.

There are many issues in modern medicine and women are often neglected. That is why I write my free blog, to inform women so they can be empowered to make good health care decisions. Empowerment requires facts, something at short supply at GOOP. 

Paltrow was so keen to use sex in Ancient China to promote the jade eggs so I thought I should learn about it. That is, after all, what experts do. You know why there is so much emphasis on sexual technique in those ancient texts? (They are detailed enough to describe penile stroke length). Achieving female orgasm was a goal, but only because it benefited men.

In Ancient China the belief was the most concentrated form of ch’i was released during orgasm and gaining additional ch’i was believed to be medically beneficial. These sexual texts were not about female sexual empowerment or how a man should please his partner, they were guides for how men can and should steal ch’i from women during sex.

They were guides to surreptitiously draining the life force from women. An early version of stealthing, if you will. 

If you are going to claim a fake sexual aid is ancient as a marketing technique it might be an idea to actually know what that Ancient culture felt about female orgasm.

The more you know.

Just once when a reporter interviews Paltrow I would like them to ask her specifically how product X or article Y can actually help or to answer the specific criticisms make about her products. Or how cluster salts are formed. Or how coffee enemas work. Or how goat’s milk can cure parasites. Or exactly who told her that jade eggs are from Ancient China?

And hey WSJM, asking for this information or pointing out when it is biologically illiterate or potentially harmful or historically untrue doesn’t make you a detractor, it makes you a concerned physician. It also makes you correct.

So far the only person to ask Paltrow anything substantive is Jimmy Kimmel. And he’s a comedian.

And it was funny, because Gwyneth tries-every-product-herself Paltrow didn’t know a thing.

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Discussion

31 thoughts on “Gwyneth Paltrow wants to take your money. The press is helping her

  1. Oh my god I love you so much.

    Posted by Jennifer | December 6, 2018, 8:38 am
  2. None of this surprises me at all, in this era of “alternative facts” and political snake oil. At least we have a few people like you out there who actually look for proof, still read books, and still talk to other people, rather than getting all their information from social media and “reality” television. I hope you realize how lucky you are that you live in Canada.

    Posted by Kristen Rigney | December 6, 2018, 9:25 am
  3. But since we are not wealthy and famous – no one cares.

    You can only do what you can do – and hope others respect your advice and follow

    I do

    Amy Rose Oliver

    Attorney at Law

    715 Clear Lake Road

    Clear Lake Shores, Texas 77565

    281.334.3067; 281.334.6215 – fax

    amy@amyroseoliver.com

    http://www.amyroseoliver.com

    Posted by amy@amyroseoliver.com | December 6, 2018, 11:33 am
  4. Forwarding this to my two daughters and every woman I’ve ever known! Thanks for your work getting the word out about the GOOP bullshit! Love you! Maria

    Posted by maria leon | December 6, 2018, 11:49 am
  5. Another great piece. But I must disagree with one point you make. GP certainly does NOT have a 12th grade science education. Anybody who does would know that she’s full of ****. Her level of science education is, well, #s don’t really go that low… (I know that mathematically they can go negatively to infinity, but you get the idea…)

    Posted by Susanna Levin NP | December 6, 2018, 11:58 am
    • Well, in all fairness, she *did* attend the Spence School for part of high school where biology is an elective (https://www.spenceschool.org/page/curriculum-detail?LevelNum=1096&DepartmentId=21658) .

      “Paltrow was raised in Santa Monica, California, where she attended Crossroads School, before enrolling in the Spence School, a private girls’ school in New York City. Later, she briefly studied anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before dropping out to act.” – Wikipedia

      So, I’m *sure* she knows what she’s talking about because as an Oscar-winning actress she’s got to be great at committing scripts to memory.

      Have to keep believing that, if there is a hell, there is a special place reserved for her along with all the other snake oil salespeople throughout the ages.

      Posted by LK Sugarman (@lksugarman) | December 6, 2018, 12:54 pm
      • And supposedly she had to pull strings to get into UCSB because her Spence grades were so poor. And she also supposedly did not drop out just to act; she dropped out because she was flunking and was going to be put on academic probation. Mommy and Daddy Dearest pulled another set of strings to get her into the business.

        Posted by Sara | December 10, 2018, 11:02 am
  6. How does he know about an UNDISCOVERED subgroup of sodium (leaving aside for a moment the fact the idea itself it nonsense)?

    Posted by Sansha Johnson | December 6, 2018, 1:29 pm
    • This is a good question that Paltrow, someone who claims to care about women, should answer because ya got me?!

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | December 6, 2018, 1:33 pm
    • I suppose it could be an allotrope of sodium salts… but it’s a good question.

      Posted by andersstarmark | December 8, 2018, 2:35 am
    • I think what that sentence meant is that because this so-called “Medical Medium” is channeling an all knowing ghost/spirit, that “undiscovered subgroup of sodium” is supposedly still undiscovered by humans..

      That’s my guess, but who knows…applying logic to anything GOOP seems a futile exercise..Thank goodness for us all that Dr. Gunter hasn’t given up. Thank you Dr.!

      Posted by frank c. | December 9, 2018, 8:02 am
  7. …there is an undiscovered subgroup of sodium that I call cluster salts…

    If they are undiscovered, how does he know about them?

    Posted by Skeptico | December 6, 2018, 1:31 pm
  8. I love how much you despise her. You are not alone. Great work here.

    >

    Posted by Linda Sajjad | December 6, 2018, 1:59 pm
  9. Shared on FB. I just can’t believe the uncritical adoration she gets in interviews. One might almost think that it’s a contractual part of interviewing her.

    Posted by attacklaurel | December 6, 2018, 6:01 pm
  10. Some guy on Instagram today insisted to me that the earth is flat and another was telling me chemtrails from airplanes is the government raining poison down on us. Gwyneth is in some fine nutjob company.

    Posted by Erin | December 6, 2018, 6:16 pm
  11. My guess: this is a paid promotional piece, although not actually labelled as such. Which accounts for the lack of awkward questions, and the amazing amount of similarity between the various iterations of same. The GOOP publicity team writes the articles and shops them around with the various publications, in the hope that someone will bite, and publish.

    I feel sorry for her. Her entire shtick is based around a sort of socio-economic voodoo – “everyone wants to be like me”, so buy these products and you will be. Which is only a selling point if you do want to be like an ageing Hollywood ex-starlet of vague talent but clearly questionable moral character. I don’t think the market there is as big as she wants it to be.

    Posted by megpie71 | December 6, 2018, 6:38 pm
    • The WSJ is having the same financial problems as other established newspapers. My guess is that the magazine is trying to cut costs–as they all do–by buying fluff pieces from PR outfits and then slightly rewriting them. They save the journalism expenses for actual journalism. I used to be a magazine editor and had to wade through dozens of press releases and PR pests calling me every day. It’s the lazy and cheap way to generate content without generating content. Part of the deal of using access to GOOP content and a fake non-interview/paraphrasing job probably is a commitment not to ask hardball questions. Actors and other celebrities do it all the time: you can have access to me if you agree to avoid certain subjects. And the “writers” who crank out fluffy lifestyle pieces are usually freelancers who have to toe the line.

      Posted by Sara | December 10, 2018, 11:16 am
  12. Dr. Jen, I am a stay at home dad of three. (2girls, 11+6 and a 3yr old boy) I started reading your blog about a year and a half ago, as a way to inform myself about women’s health. Your blog has been a great learning tool for me. Thank You!! While Goop drives me INSANE and I hope gets shut down, I am hoping you will write more general educational posts. Thanks again for all you have taught me, I hope I can pass along a small bit of your wisdom and strength to my children.

    Aaron

    Posted by Aaron Cox | December 6, 2018, 7:14 pm
  13. Again, thank you.

    Posted by Fiona | December 7, 2018, 1:18 am
  14. Everyone….do yourselves a favour and watch Dr. Gunter make comments in A Guide to Cheating Death on Netflix. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and it opened my eyes to the vast amount of misinformation being sold as cures. Don’t get me started on supplements! Thank-you Dr. Gunter for your hard work! It’s cold here this morning in Winterpeg.

    Posted by Debra | December 7, 2018, 3:51 am
  15. Just because there are problems with airplanes, that doesn’t mean magical carpets are real.

    Posted by andersstarmark | December 7, 2018, 5:34 am
  16. Yes ! Yess! All of the yes’s! The wellness industrial complex. brilliant

    Posted by Vg | December 7, 2018, 11:33 am
  17. Your talent is wasted writing about GP. I love your blog and usually read every word, but I just cannot read another word about GP. She’s a dumbass, I get it. Continuing to write about her is like beating a dead horse. Or writing 7 tweets in one day about the Russia probe.

    Posted by Leah | December 7, 2018, 2:37 pm
  18. I just had Groupon try and push a special to a “Honey Throne” spa the other day, which is (you guessed), a salon where instead of getting a pedicure, you sit in a chair and get your vagina steamed. They also have Bachelorette Party specials advertised on their website. Which I’m normally hesitant to make fun of a small woman-owned business, but GP promoting this stuff is like Jenny McCarthy being the face of the anti-vax movement.

    Posted by We have met the enemy & he is us (@Snufkin) | December 9, 2018, 11:00 pm

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