Intro for April 21, 2017
I have two reads to recommend today, two articles I read last night, right before I went to bed, and then I slept like sh-t because I kept thinking about how they intersect. The first is about Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth announced this week that she’ll be hosting goop’s first summit, In goop Health, on June 10 in Los Angeles. It’s a wellness summit and there are three levels of participation available to hopeful attendees, each level named after crystals – ticket prices as follows:
Clear Quartz $1500
You may have heard that crystals are having a moment right now. And they’re part of the wellness movement, a movement that Gwyneth has made herself one of the leaders of. At this point, if you are a Gwyneth hater, and many of you who visit this site are, you are rolling your eyes. I appreciate that. But, to promote the summit, G’s team talked to Fast Company for a piece published yesterday about the purpose behind the summit, the business goals of the summit and, supposedly most importantly, how the summit will enhance the lives of its participants – the people who will pay the crystal rates to go. Apparently the wellness category is goop’s “highest source of traffic”. That means that the biggest reason people visit goop is not for the outrageous gift guides or the fashion (which is why I visit goop whenever I visit goop) but for the tips on feeling better, on improving their lives. Put aside your need to bitch about her for a minute and consider what that means: Gwyneth Paltrow attracts an audience that is more interested in what she has to tell them about living well than what she has to offer in the way of celebrity gossip. That new line of vitamins she just launched? She sold $100,000 worth of orders on the first day. People are spending money to put her vitamins inside of their bodies – TO INCREASE HEALTH BENEFITS. So, when you’re done raging about the absurdity of this (and it is indeed f-cking absurd), would you be interested in understanding how the absurd happened? Because I think that’s what kept me up last night.
Gwyneth’s wellness summit will feature a food hall and a pop-up shoppe where you can purchase many of the products she sells on her site. There will also be opportunities to try out some of the healing activities that goop recommends. Also, many of her famous friends have signed up to be guest speakers during the panel discussions on the summit schedule: Cameron Diaz, Nicole Richie, Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner, Tori Burch, alongside some of the health and wellness “experts” whose work has been highlighted over the years on goop. All of this designed to “empower” summit participants to achieve ultimate wellness in their lives. And, you can imagine, most of those participants will be women.
That word, though, is key: Empowerment. Has it become hollow? This is where the article on G’s summit intersected for me with Buzzfeed’s new piece, also published yesterday, also about a summit, called The Last Girlbosses, written by Jessica Testa about Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal and the author of the bestselling book #GIRLBOSS. Jessica Testa examines what “empowerment” meant before November 8, 2016. And how the word and its relationship to feminism changed that day, perhaps in ways that exposed the shortcomings of pre-Trump presidency female empowerment. The Girlboss Rally happened on March 4 of this year. Like Gwyneth will do in June, Sophia gathered together a group of motivational speakers offering advice on how the summit’s attendees could also achieve wellness, of the professional kind – and there were herbal teas on hand too to stimulate "peak performance, stamina, and longevity”. As Jessica Testa points out though, the empowerment provided at the Girlboss Rally was, for the most part, apolitical. And the question she asks of Girlboss and one that extends to goop is whether or not empowerment can happen now without getting political? Is wellness of women possible in these times without social activism?
That actually reminds me of another article I read yesterday when I was obsessively googling everything related to The Handmaid’s Tale in anticipation of the upcoming series: The Handmaid’s Tale Is a Warning to Conservative Women in which Sarah Jones, writing for New Republic, reminds us of how the “language of female empowerment from the women’s movement” has been used in the past by traditionalists to curb women’s rights by selling to women that if they choose domesticity, modesty, and motherhood it would “empower” them to live their most fulfilling lives.
I can’t tell you exactly where all three of these articles intersect – or if there’s even an intersection at all. But they made me restless. And I guess what I’m trying to say, not so articulately, is that I’m confused about wellness empowerment, both physical and professional. It’s confusing to me what empowerment should look like and the wellness I might experience when I get there. And, obviously the right WAY to get there. Do you have any ideas?
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,
Laura Cavanaugh/ Getty Images