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Goop Substitutes Science for Gloss

Alex Thompson looks at the pseudoscience behind Paltrow’s ‘goop’ brand

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From $75 candles that smell like vaginas to $55 jade eggs that you are meant to insert into your vagina, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pseudoscientific wellness brand goop is making a laughing stock of alternative therapy. Aside from flogging expensive crystals to put inside yourself, Paltrow has recently expanded her brand into the TV market with her latest project ‘goop Lab’, which sees members of the goop team travel around the world to indulge her bizarre wellness whims.

Each show begins with a disclaimer telling the viewers that what they are about to watch is designed to ‘entertain and inform - not give medical advice’ but this seems at odds with the actual content of the show, where Gwenyth Paltrow and her employees jump into frozen lakes, take psychedelics with a shaman in Jamaica and injecting blood into their faces (creepily known as a vampire facial) all in the name of selling more vagina candles.The stars are careful to explain that these frankly insane practices are not advised for viewers but by this point it’s sort of pointless.

The problem with the show is not it’s bizarre depiction of beauty and wellness rituals, but the way in which it uses them to promote a series of unhealthy and pseudoscientific products. What’s perhaps more dangerous is that Paltrow seems to be endorse products with zero knowledge of what they even are - as a very confused Jimmy Kimmel found out when he quizzed her about some of her more bizarre products on his late night talk show. After a hefty $145,000 settlement for misleading consumers in relation to those $55 vaginal eggs (which had no effect on your body), you’d think that goop would begin to start researching and testing their products more accurately but no, you can still buy vaginal eggs on their website.

Goop makes a mockery of alternative medicine, using the term to hide from criticism and blurring the lines between wellness and pseudoscience. Products and corporations like goop make it impossible for people to take alternative therapy seriously and it’s not hard to see why - vaginal eggs, vagina candles and psychedelics hardly seem like they’re rooted in reality let alone scientific fact. Why would they need to be? In this industry marketing is more important than any sort of R&D and with the right branding, people will buy just about anything. It feeds into what Ben Goldacre describes as ‘bad science’ in his book of the same name, companies manipulating science and information to sell products. It’s not just that these companies aren’t using good science - they’re not using science at all.

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