Retired actress and current lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow is determined to expand her Goop empire. Paltrow isn’t going to let her recent admission on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that she “Doesn’t know what the f**k we [at Goop] talk about” deter her from teaming up with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Condé Naste to launch a Goop magazine—a paper version of the website that will ostensibly be filled with more content that Paltrow doesn’t really understand.
And last week, Paltrow hosted her first Goop Health Summit, called In Goop Health, where people paid between $500-$1,500 to learn how to turn away from science and evidenced-based medicine in favor of a variety of peculiar and downright harmful treatments all sanctioned by the actress.
Since I don’t have an extra $500 laying around, I wasn’t able to attend Goop’s health conference in Los Angeles, but I did read others’ accounts and was pleased to see that most of the coverage was in agreement: At best, Goop is just another time-consuming fad for rich, white, body-obsessed women. At worst, Goop and these new health summits are dangerous and attract the very demographic vulnerable to dodgy medical advice and the promise of miracle cures.
One critic of Paltrow’s summit was Dr. Jen Gunter, a Canadian OB/GYN and a board certified pain specialist who is a frequent critic of medical quackery and pseudoscience. Hearing that Dr. Amy Meyers—a summit speaker—suggested that magnesium can be used in place of antibiotics to treat non life-threatening infections, Dr. Gunter, on her own website, reminding Goop devotees that all infections can become life-threatening if they’re not treated properly. Gunter wrote:
This is the medical equivalent of saying it’s okay to play in traffic just avoid the really big trucks. Or only wear your seat belt if you think you are going to be in a life-threatening crash. This is dangerous and unethical advice. I am not sure how else to sum it up.
The Guardian’s Lindy West—usually someone who can be counted on to bash these sorts of privileged gatherings—was more sanguine, writing that we should all lighten up:
These women are having fun. They are sitting on pillows and connecting with each other. It is the kind of spontaneously intimate conversation that happens among women all the time, dressed up in the language of magic and, sure, monetised.
And some were simply amused. Elle’s Crystal Meers wrote:
High on matcha lattes and Bulletproof Coffee, women (and a handful of men) shopped the Clean Beauty Apothecary, hydrated with Moon Juice tonics, and joined The Class founder Taryn Toomey for a new style sweatless session. But bone broth aside, the main attraction of the day was the five panel discussions exploring the Goopiest of Goop topics from gut health to the mother wound.
Whatever your feelings about Gwyneth, Goop, and the advice given out at the health summit, one thing’s for sure: Despite her efforts to come off as a self-effacing everywoman interested in helping people “become their best version,” Paltrow’s not at all like us. This was perhaps best demonstrated when Paltrow invited her good friends—actress and self-help book author Cameron Diaz, designer-of-very-expensive-clothing Tory Burch; I’m-not-sure-what-she-does-or-why-she’s-famous Nicole Richie, and super model and wife to a billionaire tech visionary Miranda Kerr—to chat about the complex job of being a working mother.
Lindy West reported that each of them delivered “a bounty of platitudes about ambition, female friendship, self-care” but that not once did they acknowledge the elephant in the room: They are all filthy rich with staffs to help them deal with these “complexities.”
Women seeking advice from the Goop panelists should also note that these women can also employ top doctors to treat them after they do something silly—like relying on crystals for hormonal balance, doing sixteenth-century leech treatments to improve skin, putting rocks in their vaginas, engaging in unnecessary draining of one’s lymphatic system, steaming their vaginas (do you sense a theme?), sitting in pools of goat’s milk to rid oneself of parasites, starting starvation diets, and deciding a picture of your aura is better than taking anti-depressants.
For the average woman who lives on a budget, it’s important to avoid things that actually make one sick and will cost precious dollars to fix. For that reason, it’s probably best to avoid Goop’s health advice, unless of course, you’re in it for the laughs. There are plenty of those, along with the leeches.