When future humans look back on this era of culture, I wonder if they’ll marvel at our susceptibility to the wellness trend with its adaptogens, vibrations, and mindfulness. Much like how we now laugh at phrenology, children learning about wellness in middle school will be shocked that people once believed that putting an egg-shaped jade stone up your vagina could result in sexual power.
No one woman or company does “wellness” like Gwyneth Paltrow and her iconic lifestyle brand Goop, which began as an email newsletter back in 2008. A little more than a decade later, Goop and Gwyneth (or, GP as she’s known to Goop acolytes) have built a $250M empire that consists of branded products, health summits, and most recently, a Netflix series called The Goop Lab that explores the world of junk science—oh, I’m sorry, I mean pseudoscience, no wait, I mean wellness.
While it’s reasonable to deeply consider the implications of Goop and GP and the alternative lifestyle practices they promote—an exercise that has been done excellently by The New York Times, The New Yorker, and dare I say The Ringer—sometimes it’s more amusing to just sit back and marvel at all the absurd endorsements, suggestions, and scandals associated with the brand. In fact, that’s what I’m going to recommend you do right now—think of this as an off-brand Goop wellness practice that promotes taking a break and laughing at what rich people do with their money. In no particular order, here are the greatest moments in Goop history.
If there’s one thing to know about Goop besides the pseudoscience, it’s that they’re really into the well-being of vaginas. For chrissake, the promotional images for The Goop Lab have Paltrow placed smack-dab inside what can only be described as multiple vaginas:
One of the more controversial vaginal experiences—I apologize for typing the phrase “vaginal experiences”—Goop has endorsed is something called “vaginal steaming,” which is probably exactly what you’re imagining it is. In an article about the L.A.-based spa Tikkun, Goop recommended trying the “mugwort v-steam,” which allows users to “sit on what is essentially a mini throne” as “a combination of infrared and mugwort steam treats you to an energetic release.” Sounds expensive! And while doctors say this isn’t a great idea because the vagina already has self-cleaning properties, I think the most concerning aspect is that what you’re doing here basically amounts to straddling a pot of hot water. This flies in the face of everything I learned in kindergarten; when instructed on how to use the bathroom faucets, we were told, “HOT IS OUCHIE!” As a shock to literally no one, a woman was left with second-degree burns after a “steaming procedure.”
I don’t know about you, but when I nearly burn off my vagina, I like to immediately test its fortitude by shoving a foreign object inside it! Yes, I’m talking about Goop’s iconic jade egg, which is purported to improve your sexual prowess for the fair price of $66. How? I have no idea, but guess what? It doesn’t even matter, because science once again decided to ruin the fun by labeling it bad for vaginas. Even worse, Goop was fined $145,000 for misleading consumers with unsubstantiated claims about this product.
So you’re telling me that cramming a jade egg inside myself for hours on end doesn’t open my second chakra in addition to supporting my sexual power? To quote The Birdcage, “How do you think I feel? Betrayed, bewildered … wrong response?”
when ur yoni egg lodges itself all the way up ur hooha but u have another 6 hours of the women in yoga business seminar in the hamptons so u gotta grin and bare it pic.twitter.com/GQhYu10yGE— amelia wedemeyer (@ameliadeew) June 26, 2019
Crystals As Medicine
As someone who bought Spencer Pratt’s crystal kit (it was on sale, OK?), I probably have no authority to chastise GP’s belief in crystals and healing. However, I do know that crystals likely have no bearing on my mood and general wellness—unlike Goop, which treats crystals as if they’re practically medicine.
According to Goop, crystals can:
- Restore your confidence and self-esteem
- Keep “energy vampires” out of your personal space
- Provide emotional support for female reproductive issues
- Catapult you into embracing a leadership role at work
Mom, if you’re reading this, cancel my Zoloft prescription!
Back in 2014, GP and Coldplay’s Chris Martin decided to separate after a decade of marriage, prompting GP to refer to the breakup as a “conscious uncoupling,” which she explored in detailed fashion in a blog post that name-checks “the upper Paleolithic period of human history” before devoting an entire section to the similarities between insects and intimacy. And here I thought “conscious uncoupling” was just something rich people said instead of “we’re getting divorced.”
The Annual Goop Gift Guide
Every holiday season I look forward to seeing which items make Goop’s holiday gift guide, which has listed everything from a gold juicer to a breakfast with giraffes to a series of endangered-species-focused trips worth more than $1 million. And while it’s fun to gawk at all the outrageous gift ideas, I do feel a twinge of sadness over the fact that the Goop holiday gift guide has become self-aware in recent years with its inclusion of a “Ridiculous Holiday Gifts” category. It takes the magic out of GP making a list of what she thinks normal people really want.
Body Vibes Stickers
While I don’t know how one goes about accessing the astral dimension, I’m thinking I could probably cover my entire body with the Goop-endorsed Body Vibes stickers and somehow trick myself into believing that I’m operating on a level with Doctor Strange. In a blog post with the URL slug wearable-stickers-that-promote-healing-really (the “really” gets me every single time), Body Vibes is promoted as wearable stickers that come “pre-programmed to an ideal frequency, allowing them to target imbalances,” which in turn “fill in the deficiencies in your reserves, creating a calming effect, smoothing out both physical tension and anxiety.” Huh? Exactly.
Initially, the blog post contained the claim that the stickers were “made with the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits so they can monitor an astronaut’s vitals during wear,” but NASA got wind of this and told CNNMoney that “it doesn’t use carbon material to line its suits, and its current spacesuit has no carbon fibers in it at all.” NASA on Goop:
When GP Made Yoga Popular
While the Goop holiday gift guide is now arguably self-aware, GP herself is a bit of a different story. Who could forget the day she spoke to the Wall Street Journal and told them she was pretty much the first person to try yoga? She reminisced about her humble yogi beginnings: “I remember when I started doing yoga and people were like, ‘What is yoga? She’s a witch. She’s a freak.’’’
Thank god GP wasn’t around during the late 17th century in Salem! She then added: “Forgive me if this comes out wrong, but I went to do a yoga class in L.A. recently and the 22-year-old girl behind the counter was like, ‘Have you ever done yoga before?’ And literally I turned to my friend, and I was like, ‘She has this job because I’ve done yoga before.’”
It seems as if GP forgot to do her due diligence because, according to THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, “The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization.” I’m sorry, but I’m believing India here.
Gwyneth Fails the Food Stamp Challenge
This went as well as you’d think. In 2015, GP blogged that “chef (and great man)” (whoops) Mario Batali challenged her to live on a $29 food budget for a week. Paltrow once said she’d “rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup,” so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she failed after four days, especially when you find out that this is what she bought for the entire week:
I … don’t have anything to say except that she bought CILANTRO. Only in GP’s world do you buy a superfluous herb on a $29 budget.
As you saw with conscious uncoupling, extremely rich people like GP enjoy giving new names to regular things, which is how “walking barefoot” became “earthing” or “grounding.” According to a Goop Q&A with earthing-movement leader Clint Ober, earthing therapy involves placing your bare feet and hands on the earth (read: the ground) and then walking around barefoot for a minimum of 30 minutes. It’s a practice GP swears by, guys. You know that chronic pain, insomnia, or depression that has been plaguing you for years? According to Goop, it can all be eliminated through earthing, which again, is just a fancy word for “walking barefoot.” In super scientific and not-at-all-bullshit terms, Ober explains that “the earth has an infinite supply of free electrons, so when a person is grounded, those electrons naturally flow between the earth and the body, reducing free radicals and eliminating any static electrical charge.” I love when people use scientific words as a substitution for actual scientific proof!
Pro tip: Make sure to not step on a rusty nail or any other sharp object hidden within the earth, which will in turn undo all positive effects from grounding, a.k.a. walking barefoot.
Julianne Hough’s Exorcism
In the clip above from a recent conference at Davos, you can see Dancing With the Stars pro Julianne Hough convulsing and moaning/screaming during some kind of weird energy exorcism performed by John Amaral, a body worker and chiropractor. Maybe you’re wondering what the heck these two have to do with Goop. Well, both Amaral and Hough show up in The Goop Lab for the episode “The Energy Experience,” in which they talk about the benefits of Amaral’s energy.
Honestly, good for Julianne if she thinks this is actually helping. But, as it is with nearly every other wellness scandal Goop has endured, it is problematic when popular celebrities treat these unusual practices like they’re proven medical solutions.
Voluntarily Stung by Bees for Beauty
As the old saying goes, pain is beauty, and no one knows more about pain and beauty than our very own GP. Not only has she bravely discussed being stung by bees for beauty in the inaugural issue of Goop Magazine, she also endorsed the practice with this amazing quote in The New York Times: “People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It’s actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it’s painful.” I definitely believe that last part.