The first issue of goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s quarterly “wellness”-themed magazine in partnership with Conde Nast, was released this week. She’s on the cover, lying in mud, probably high quality organic mud. (Is that redundant?) G is also featured in the new issue of Architectural Digest ahead of the opening of goop Lab, their first permanent store at the Brentwood Country Mart. AD has exclusive photos of the shoppe with commentary from Gwyneth and the designers, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, about the store concept and aesthetic. It’s 2017. And we’ve been hearing all about the decline of print and retail. And here’s Gwyneth getting into the print and retail spaces. If successful, she’ll be able to take credit for rescuing print and retail, as she does for the popularity of yoga, gluten-free, and acupuncture. The first issue of goop, the magazine, includes an interview with G about her wellness philosophy and how she came to be the all-knowing wellness expert:
“We’ve always been a lightning rod for that kind of thing. It’s funny, when I started doing yoga in the nineties, people were like, “What is she doing?” There was negative press about me doing yoga. When my cookbook came out, It’s All Good, with allergen-free recipes, there was such a vicious backlash about, “What is this gluten-free thing she’s talking about? She starves her children.” I mean, it was so intense. Now, every menu, gluten-free. I had the same with “conscious uncoupling,” I had the same with acupuncture. I’m very accustomed to being the person who says, “Hey, what about this? This worked for me.” And everyone having a freakout, and then you start to see, like, there’s yoga everywhere. But people initially were like, this is nuts.”
Do you do yoga? Do you love it? If so, did you know you have to thank Gwyneth Paltrow for it?
Earlier this week, Olga Khazan wrote a piece for The Atlantic called The Baffling Rise of goop, examining how and why it’s become so popular, the conditions that were in place that G exploited – although she would say that she was just listening to an increasingly frustrated demographic that felt ignored by the mainstream healthcare community. In response to the criticism that goop has received for its shady recommendations and unsubstantiated claims, G insists that the goal of goop is to encourage its followers to be curious, to ask questions, to wonder about things, the way she wonders about things, to challenge the information that’s been presented, especially if you don’t “feel good”. The problem, as many have pointed out, is that the curiosity that she’s inciting often leads to a purchase. Of “earthing”, the practice of going outside and walking barefoot to recalibrate your energy sources and reduce pain and stress, she says on the one hand that, “It’s free to walk in the grass. It’s free to meditate”, but, you know, if you don’t want to go outside – because it’s free and anyone can do it! – as The Atlantic points out, goop will tell you where to buy “bed sheets and mats that can be plugged into the grounding port of an electrical outlet. One queen-sized sheet goes for $200”.
For Gwyneth, then, it would seem that curiosity can only be directed from her and not at her. She’s asking the questions, she’s challenging the science. But when you question her answers and her science, when you are curious about HER alleged discoveries, she relabels it as judgment. By that logic then, the “right” kind of curiosity must be Gwyneth Paltrow approved. Has Gwyneth made curiosity exclusive? Well, considering the price points of some of her items, her brand of wellness is certainly more accessible to some than others. Which is why her opponents have warned that her business is turning wellness into a privilege.
G refutes that and argues in goop’s first issue that her approach to wellness doesn’t distinguish between class and that any attempts to characterise it that way is misogynistic. Seriously.
“People are afraid of women, because when a woman gets an idea things change. Women are in charge of where the money is spent in a house—when that consumer behavior starts to change, industries change. So corporations want everything just how it is. They don’t want women asking too many questions. It’s a very misogynistic response.”
The problem here is that she’s starting with consumption. Women should be able to affect consumer change – but their power to do so has to begin with social change. For all her talk about women “not feeling good” because they’re so busy, too busy, because they’re trying to manage at home and at work, because many workplaces are institutionalised for inequality, because they work harder for less money, because parental leave is insultingly inadequate in America, how is throwing a bottle of vitamins at the situation going to help?
To be fair, that question was asked of her by Sarah Mesle who interviewed Gwyneth for this first issue of goop:
You made the point that so many women have chronic problems. Why do women feel so bad all the time? Why is there so much pressure? So, for me, one of the things that is clear is that these are not only personal problems, but social structures, that the US particularly hasn’t figured out how to deal with. We don’t have good childcare, we don’t have great support for healthcare in general; education is always strapped for cash. So, I’ll get these emails about, like, “Okay, we have to do this big fundraiser to, like, get an art teacher for the public school, ’cause otherwise we’re not going to have art classes.” And I’m like, okay, this is so great, but also, what we should all do is take all this energy and go to Sacramento and pass a bill to f%$king hire the art teacher so that everybody, all the kids, have art teachers. Right?
So, it’s that funny question of how to spend your energy trying to do what’s best for you and your family and the household that you manage, and then how to think about pushing that energy towards a broader change.
This was G’s response:
“Yeah, I mean, I think it’s our mission to empower women. Our mission is to support women with content, product, ideas, where they can get closest to their real identity and have the courage to speak and operate from that place. Whatever it is that they want to do in the world, whether they want to stay home with children, whether they work, whether they want to start a second career, whether they want to understand, like, you know, how an alternative health modality might benefit them.”
Supporting women with content, PRODUCT, ideas. Did we really have to throw PRODUCT in there? As one of the things that might help women find their “real identity” and the “courage to speak”? Women have always had the courage to speak. It’s never been about not speaking. It’s about being HEARD. By the people and the systems that are the root cause of women not feeling empowered. Saying that goop is providing women with “content, product, ideas” to further their curiosity so that they can make positive changes in their lives implies that women haven’t been effective at pushing for change because they didn’t have the right resources until goop came along and told them about f-cking earthing! Like, oh, it will happen when we get better at asking for it. Right. Because the assholes who get to decide about reproductive rights and equal pay and racial equality, they’re suddenly going to start paying attention after women get their auras read at the crystal booth while attending the goop summit?
Click here to read G’s full interview at goop. And here to see the Architectural Digest feature on the first goop retail space. And here to read Olga Khazan’s essay on goop and the future of health journalism.