About 200 people turned out to Vancouver’s Stanley Park Pavilion on Saturday to take part in a wellness summit put on by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop brand.
Participants shelled out $400 plus tax to attend the inaugural “In Goop Health” summit, an event that included meditation and breath work classes, workout sessions, expert talks, catering and cocktails.
Paltrow has described the event as a “summit focused toward being and achieving the optimal versions of ourselves.”
Global News wanted to get a closer look at the In Goop Health Summit, but despite being on public property, was told by an event staffer that its cameras were making attendees “uncomfortable.”
Paltrow founded the Goop brand in 2008, and in the decade since it has grown into a $250 million company.
It has also racked up its share of critics, who have targeted the brand’s health claims and accused it of promoting pseudoscience.
Back in September, a California court levied $145,000 in civil penalties against the company over unscientific claims regarding three products, including a vaginally-inserted jade egg meant to improve women’s sex lives and a tincture called Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend that supposedly “assists in the clearing of guilt, shame, self-criticism and blame.”
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The court also ruled that Goop couldn’t make any new product claims without scientific evidence to back them up.
“Gwyneth has recommended allowing bees to sting your face as a kind of therapy and people have actually died using that therapy, so it’s potentially physically harmful,” said Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta.
“So it sort of contributes to this erosion of critical thinking.”
Concern over that erosion is what drew artist Douglas Bevans, the satirical CEO of ‘health miracle drink’ Hot Dog Water, to the Goop summit.
Dressed like a giant hot dog and stirring a steaming pot of wieners, Bevans set up a kiosk outside the event marketing his “Keto-compatible” drink.
The $37.99 product’s slick marketing promises it will help you lose weight, stay young and improve brain function.
None of that is true, of course, but Bevans said it’s about targeting the gullibility associated with the health and beauty industry.
WATCH: Tim Caulfield Targets Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop
“It’s not Goop, it’s the whole lifestyle quackery that exists in this era,” he said. “Celebrity endorsements and bogus products… I think we’re all susceptible to targeted marketing and all these things were weren’t 50 years ago.”
The event, however, has its own supporters — evidenced by the fact that despite the hefty price tag, the summit sold out.
Karen Pearce was one of the attendees on Saturday, who said the event was about “a lot of learning.”
“There’s panels throughout the day with varied experts on all spectrums, a lot of education on health and wellness, gut health, anxiety,” she said.
“You also learn about beauty routines and the latest in that. Anything that’s progressive, that’s what we’re talking about there.”
All the same, Pearce admits it’s buyer beware — and that at the end of the day it’s up to consumers to make choices about their health.
“I think Goop does a good job of bringing the content,” she said.
“Then its up to you to adapt and look into it more yourself or not.”