Gwyneth Paltrow is gaslighting America.
A post on Paltrow’s lifestyle website and expensive nonsense shop Goop published Thursday argues that Jennifer Gunter — an OB/GYN and evidence-based medicine advocate who has criticized the company’s potentially dangerous recommendations — disrespected women when she told them not to put Goop’s $55 crystals in their vaginas. Below’s the advertorial for “beauty guru/healer/inspiration/friend” Shiva Rose’s jade eggs:
In January, Goop published an interview with Rose apparently designed to help market crystal eggs for readers to stick in their vaginas. Rose promised that Jade eggs would:
…[H]elp cultivate sexual energy, increase orgasm, balance the cycle, stimulate key reflexology around vaginal walls, tighten and tone, prevent uterine prolapse, increase control of the whole perineum and bladder, develop and clear chi pathways in the body, intensify feminine energy, and invigorate our life force. To name a few!
Rose went on to suggest that it’s good for the mind to sleep with an egg in the yoni — because “it’s where many women access their intuition, their power, and their wisdom.”
Gunter, who posts regularly on her personal blog about evidence-based medicine, responded to the post:
The vulva, vagina, cervix, and uterus are not intuition repositories and neither are they sources of “power” or “wisdom.” If fact, I find that assertion insulting. Do you really mean a woman who does not have a uterus is less effective? Is a woman without a vagina less intelligent? Is a woman who had a vulvectomy due to cancer less creative?
As for the recommendation that women sleep with a jade egg in their vaginas I would like to point out that jade is porous which could allow bacteria to get inside and so the egg could act like a fomite. This is not good, in case you were wondering. It could be a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis or even the potentially deadly toxic shock syndrome.
Gunter, who has a wide following among health and science journalists, ended up quoted in a number of stories on Goop’s jade eggs.
CNN’s Kristine Thomason posted, “Sorry, Gwyneth: Experts advise against jade egg to strengthen pelvic muscles.” Gizmodo’s Kristen V. Brown commented, “No, You Should Not Put Jade Eggs in Your Vagina Because Gwyneth Paltrow Tells You To.” Over at the Washington Post, Kristine Phillips piled on, writing, “No, Gwyneth Paltrow, women should not put jade eggs in their vaginas, gynecologist says.”
It was a bad news day for Goop, and probably not great for the multi-million dollar brand’s sales. Meanwhile, it somewhat raised Gunter’s profile. That might explain why Goop decided to publish its post Thursday and include responses from contributors Steven Gundry and Aviva Romm to help smack down Gunter.
Gundry, whose ethically questionable attempts to enrich himself with medical advice was the subject of an April article in The Atlantic, objected to Gunter’s questioning of his credentials in one of her posts.
I have been in academic medicine for forty years and up until your posting, have never seen a medical discussion start or end with the “F-bomb,” yet yours did… Since you did not do even a simple Google search of me before opening your mouth, let me give you a brief history: I have published over 300 papers, chapters, and abstracts on my research in peer-reviewed journals and have presented over 500 papers at peer-reviewed academic meetings.
Romm attacked the idea that scientific expertise has any more value than a post on Goop hawking jade eggs:
Do all wellness trends pan out to be scientific and reliable? Of course not. Then again, neither do many of our trusted pharmaceuticals, tests, and procedures when given the test of time.
And Paltrow herself tweeted out the article Thursday afternoon, quoting former First Lady Michelle Obama:
Paltrow’s tweet didn’t go over too well as this representative sample shows:
The online medical and scientific community rallied to Gunter’s defense.
Goop presents itself as a lifestyle brand, but it has a financial stake in discrediting medical experts like Gunter who would inform people of the pseudoscience and occasionally dangerous practices driving many of its products.
(Interestingly, Timothy Caulfield, a professor of public health who wrote a book titled “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?” and regularly debunks her claims on Twitter, didn’t merit a response of his own.)
This is the first major, direct broadside that Goop has launched against one of its critics in the scientific community. It will be interesting to see whether it is its last. In addition to the big company’s financial stake in obscuring science with endless “questions,” we live in a world where powerful people have attracted devoted fans, and loads more power, by being on the wrong side of what science and experts say is right.Photos via Goop, Getty Images / D Dipasupil