Gwyneth Paltrow may be the world’s most successful purveyor of 100% organic, ethically sourced, cold-pressed, extra-virgin snake oil of this century. Or any century, for that matter. Because while those snake oil salesmen of old cleared a small profit by selling bottles of watered down booze and turpentine off the back of a re-purposed circus wagon, Gwynnie rakes in the big bucks online, selling $885 sterling silver ben wa balls and a 30ml vial (that’s 2 tablespoons for you impoverished Americans who haven’t yet cultivated an affected “European” accent like Gwyneth’s) of “long- and short-chain hyaluronic molecules” for $300 bucks that’s supposed to make you age backwards or something.
But like Doc McGruber and his Python’s Breath Magical Elixir, the sheriffs threatened to run old Gwyneth out of town on occasion. You see, Goop has a history of either promoting or selling some dubious products, treatments, and advice. Suggestions like the Mugworth V-Steam, a vaginal steaming treatment that G claims “balances female hormone levels”, or turning your vagina into an Easter basket with a colorful assortment of Jade eggs didn’t sit well with the medical community. In fact, one OB/GYN has dedicated an entire blog to debunking what she sees as Goop’s harmful claims. Yet, Gwyneth remained undeterred. The pussy wants what the pussy wants, I guess.
According to a recent New York Times profile, a short-lived partnership with Condé Nast for a print edition of Goop was nipped in the bud because CN didn’t want their asses hanging out every time Gwyneth recommended squirting coffee up your butthole. CN had two rules: One was that they wanted to keep things editorial. They didn’t want to monetize the content and end up publishing a Goop coupon book and then have to turn around and sell a $72 pair of gold handled scissors to go with it. Gwyneth bristled at the idea of not “being allowed to use the magazine as part of their ‘contextual commerce’ strategy.” The other rule that CN insisted on: fact-checking. I know, right?!
Goop wanted Goop magazine to be like the Goop website in another way: to allow the Goop family of doctors and healers to go unchallenged in their recommendations via the kinds of Q. and A.s published, and that just didn’t pass Condé Nast standards. Those standards require traditional backup for scientific claims, like double-blind, peer-reviewed studies.
G.P. didn’t understand the problem. “We’re never making statements,” she said. Meaning, they’re never asserting anything like a fact. They’re just asking unconventional sources some interesting questions.
Facts, facts, facts. What are they even for? At any rate, after all the heat she and Goop have taken over the years, Gwyneth has finally decided to take out some insurance. Goop is hiring a full-time fact-checker.
After a few too many cultural firestorms, and with investors to think about, G.P. made some changes. Goop has hired a lawyer to vet all claims on the site. It hired an editor away from Condé Nast to run the magazine. It hired a man with a Ph.D. in nutritional science, and a director of science and research who is a former Stanford professor. And in September, Goop, sigh, is hiring a full-time fact-checker. G.P. chose to see it as “necessary growing pain.”
Luckily for Goop, these days facts are more like serving suggestions. Just because that pint of ice cream says 6 servings on it, doesn’t mean I can’t sit down and eat the whole thing at once while sitting astride my Stanley Steamer and juggle ping pong balls with my cervix, it just means that I shouldn’t.