|Gwyneth Paltrow took Goop from a newsletter to the most controversial company promoting celebrity-approved health and wellness tips / Photo by: David Torcivia via Flickr|
If a random person passes you by on the street and tells you the funny-looking rock in their hand will make you healthy if you put it up your hoo-ha, you’d probably run for the hills or report them to the police. But for the past few years, a celebrity has been saying the same thing to countless people all around the world and yet, she’s convincing them. What’s the difference?
Gwyneth Paltrow took Goop from a newsletter to the most controversial company promoting celebrity-approved health and wellness tips. Anyone with eyes could probably tell it’s not the best idea to take a celebrity’s word for health and wellness over a doctor's, and yet her company is making millions on things such as that recent candle that apparently smells like Paltrow’s own hoo-ha.
What Is Going On?
What’s going on is a classic case of aspirational lifestyles. It’s testimonials after testimonials that, though seem too good to be true, somehow still feel credible only because of who is speaking it. Paltrow is at the center of it all--of all of Goop and its promotions of fanny-scented candles and jade eggs and “earthing.”
Since 2017, Goop has surprisingly been so successful that its June “In Goop Health” summit was attended by enough people that the $1,500-worth tickets were actually sold out. Not only that, but despite people looking at Paltrow’s tried and true methods of wellness and turning their noses, Goop has managed to both work with Condé Nast and enamor yet more people with wellness tips just by following in Paltrow’s barefoot footsteps.
According to Adweek, an American advertising trade publication, the site gets regular visitors, too. A total of 1.8 million people visit the site each month. When looking at that number more closely, we see that these people are at the average age of 34 and have “a household income in the six figures.” All this means is that those who visit and buy what Paltrow is selling are those who could afford it and then some.
The question remains: why are they buying it?
There are other factors at play here, and it’s not just because Paltrow is the main selling point of Goop. According to business news website Insider.com, Goop’s rise to success is based on the $4.2 trillion growth of the global wellness industry in 2017. With more influencers on the rise, that number will probably just continue ticking up.
At some point, Americans started to funnel so much money into companies that endorsed this new trend, enough that Goop actually raised $10 million from venture capitalists between 2015 and 2016. Suddenly, brands were finally stocking shelves full of organic products, no matter if they were organic or not.
Ten percent of Americans said they do yoga now, and 8% said they meditated. Some switched sodas for natural coconut water, and more and more people on social media started spouting Googled (and not Googled) tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle.
This was the kind of environment that Goop was born into, and how it was able to achieve such a high status despite only starting off as a newsletter advocating for a healthy lifestyle through food recipes.
Now, it’s got an outrageous reach, and an even more outrageous, though consistent, outlook on what it means to truly be healthy.
The Big Picture
By now, you might be thinking that it really is a lost cause to believe a member of Hollywood royalty with no medical or scientific background about any health-related thing. But despite the fact that all the jade eggs have been criticized by actual gynecologists, and all that “breast cancer is related to bra usage” talk is revealed to be unfounded, Goop still continues to have dedicated consumers.
Remember that hoo-ha scented candle? Well, it sold out for $75 a pop -- and those who bought it said it smelled nothing like any person’s downtown area. Goop getting into so many controversies seems to not have stopped its mission to peddle pseudoscience.
In a report by news outlet The Atlantic, Truth in Advertising, a consumer-advocacy group, looked into the collection of unfounded claims that Goop was making -- including that “earthing” technique, or a technique in which one is said to have less inflammatory illnesses if they just neutralize their electrical charges “through contact with the earth." They found that, unsurprisingly, most of the things that Goop promoted were all unsubstantiated claims, and yet people fall for it over and over again.
So, if you’re not well-off and know that no one in their right mind would buy a $75 candle to stink up the place, you are at no risk of falling for this whole pseudoscientific business model for health. What about those who do fall for it? What’s Goop got that keeps them coming back?
|What’s going on is a classic case of aspirational lifestyles. It’s testimonials after testimonials that, though seem too good to be true, somehow still feel credible only because of who is speaking it / Photo by: StockSnap via Pixabay|
A health editor told The Atlantic that it’s probably got something to do with the fact that it is Paltrow technically selling these products. “Gwyneth Paltrow is an interesting figure and really beautiful… She is living proof of Goop-y health.”
Over at British news source The Guardian, writer David Robert Grimes also acknowledged that this celebrity life obsession has something to do with it. He cites Jade Goody, who died from cervical cancer in 2009, and urged women to book appointments for cervical smears so much that the projected numbers around that time were at 70%. When Kylie Minogue got diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, so many women in Australia also came bounding to their own health clinics for a mammogram.
What you’d expect is that this untimely stream of people wanting to get tested is a good sign, but the tradeoff is that they really just did it because it was something faced by someone they know. When you’re a celebrity, the effect is more palpable.
We don’t need mass movements for false-negative mammograms; we need proper information. We don’t need to walk in the soil barefoot or get cervical exams just because our favorite celebrities had to; we need to really know what they are for. In the case of Goop, we don’t need a constant stream of pseudoscience; we need to focus on practices that have real, tangible medical benefits.