Is goop the new wellness Goliath?

Maria Posted by Maria at July 14, 2017 14:45:40 July 14, 2017 14:45:40

This week, goop decided to start a fight. And the fight isn’t with spray can cheese or on sugar, but Gwyneth Paltrow and co. want to take on Dr. Jen Gunter, a vocal critic of goop’s medical recommendations.

As Lainey said, it’s a RUMBLE!

First, if you want to read Dr. Gunter’s goop analysis, expressing her skepticism and incredulousness at goop’s recommendations, click here. There are a lot of interesting posts that dispute Gwyneth’s claims about everything from jade eggs to toxic tampons to the Tracy Anderson diet plan to the medical validity of adrenal fatigue.

But who is Dr. Gunter to give medical advice? Well her full title is Jennifer Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM. She’s an OB/GYN certified in both Canada and the US. You can check her credentials here

In goop’s open letter, the editorial team says that they are focused on asking medical questions: “Encouraging discussion of new ideas is certainly one of our goals, but indiscriminate attacks that question the motivation and integrity of the doctors who contribute to the site is not.”

So you can question goop, but only on those terms. The top letter (from goop’s team) doesn’t mention Dr. Gunter by name, but clearly they are bothered by her and cite one of her Wonder Woman-inspired blog titles.

Gwyneth tweeted that they are “going high” in regards to Dr. Gunter. So goop and their crew, which includes Dr. F-cking Gundry (more on him in Sarah’s piece to follow), implying that Dr. Gunter is ill-informed, uneducated, dangerous, classless and neglectful in not treating her son’s illness properly, is taking the high road. Okkkkkkkk.

Gwyneth wants to fight, she wants to defend herself. So do it! Don’t hide behind this false earnestness. This isn’t conscious f-cking uncoupling. And perhaps because it’s so insincere, there aren’t a lot of people coming to her defensive. She’s pretty much being dragged for filth.
Twitter is not having it one bit – take a look at the comments below her tweet:


Dr. Gunter also took to Twitter, with much funnier results. “Science Twitter” is a thing, did you know that? I didn’t, probably because I’m too dumb to be included. But Science Twitter came out in full force to support Dr. Gunter, and there’s a lot to call goop out on. Recently, NASA said a product goop was selling (healing stickers) was a bunch of bullsh-t. It’s also been discovered that goop products have some crossover with InfoWars, the conspiracy-driven, white supremacist supporting, Sandy Hook-denying domain of Alex Jones. People have been calling goop out for a very long time; in 2015, Timothy Caulfield wrote a book titled Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?

Through it all, Gwyneth has remained unbothered (though they were forced to issue a correction over the healing stickers). Gwyneth has always dismissed the “hate” with the same argument – she’s a trailblazer, she’s a magnet for misogyny, she’s a game changer. That argument may work when you are fighting against gossip bloggers, but it doesn’t have the same effect when you are being called out by Jennifer Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM.

Now, she is clearly bothered.

To me, having worked in lifestyle for a decade, this reads as something that would have been labored over in the editorial meetings. Dr. Jen Gunter is a topic of discussion around goop’s alkaline water cooler. She has gotten under their collective skin (which is where the fascia is, right?). I would guess one (or more) of Gwyneth’s “experts” took offence, particularly Dr. F-cking Gundry, judging by the defensive, personal nature of his argument.

The letter is not a good look because despite years of telling us she doesn’t give a sh-t about what anyone thinks, it proves that goop is highly invested in and influenced by optics.

Part of being a lifestyle brand is speaking with absolute authority. By showing that they are shaken by the criticism, goop puts themselves – and their content – against the wall. And much of what Dr. Gunter points out – like the time Gwyneth went on Kimmel and said she didn’t know what the f-ck they were talking about – is fair to comment on because that is how G is marketing the site. In a much publicized quote, Gwyneth told people to bring their A game and now that someone has, she doesn’t like it.

As I said in 2015, Gwyneth proudly built goop on “trolling” for clicks,  recommending things outrageous enough to get press that drives traffic to the site. At the time, I noted this: She knows what people say about her and not only does it not bother her, it helps her. It’s fun, and in terms of clicks, fruitful, but as a reader, how am I supposed to react to it? Can you set yourself up as a standard in authenticity when part of your mandate is to create as much press, negative or positive, as possible? How does that infect and affect the editorial choices?

To whit, goop is not trustworthy and is increasingly in “punchline” territory – not where you want to be, particularly if acquisition is the ultimate goal.

There is a large problem with the editorial process at goop – mainly, they don’t have one. They do not edit the experts’ answers, preferring to not “interpret or influence.” But that is part of the issue – there is no debate, there is no conversation and every doctor is given free reign to give their opinion unchallenged, so how much value does that offer readers? Gwyneth’s chosen set of professionals offer their advice completely unimpeded by fact checking or skepticism, or even basic follow up.

If readers (and doctors and other medical professionals) are misinterpreting or “not understanding” goop’s intent, is that a failure on the part of the reader or the editorial team?

Goop has tried to position this type of content as progressive, yet the general consensus (as has been argued extensively by Dr. Gunter and others) is that it is exclusive, cost-prohibitive and, at best, unproven.

As for whether wellness is a feminist endeavor, consider how the marketing of it takes its cues from the diet industry. Everyone knows what it takes to lose weight and/or stay fit – a healthy diet and exercise. There’s no magic pill or solution, but that doesn’t stop billions of dollars from being spent on quick fixes every year. How are goop vitamins different from a tummy slimming tea? Because Dr. F-cking Gundry said so?

If goop is genuinely and fully committed to wellness both as an editorial and e-commerce mandate, they need to put their money where their vitamin packets are and hire a wellness director to work alongside food, fashion and beauty. You can’t claim to be an authority if you don’t want to take responsibility like an authority. If you want to make money off of what you are promising, you better be able to come at skeptics with more than “we are simply asking questions.”

To steal a phrase from Mindy Kaling they don’t seem know their sh-t or show their sh-t. That’s why Jennifer Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM has them shaking in the grass (they probably aren’t wearing boots this summer because of earthing).
 

Photos:
WENN

Previous Article Next Article