A new TV show called The Goop Lab will bring Gwyneth Paltrow‘s lifestyle brand Goop to life, and doctors are concerned.
The six-part series will make its way to Netflix on Jan. 24, and it promises to delve into some of the controversial topics that the semi-retired actor has discussed through her brand.
In the trailer, Paltrow is joined by Goop’s chief content officer Elise Loehnen as they discover and learn about new wellness trends together.
“What we try to do at Goop is explore ideas that may seem out there or too scary,” Loehnen said in the clip.
Some health experts are sounding the alarm, fearing the series is just another way for Paltrow to spread misinformation about women’s health.
In her book Vagina Bible, Gunter aims to protect women’s health from misconceptions and myths often spread through the gaps in medicine, exploited by the “wellness industry” and endorsed by celebrities like Paltrow.
The outrage over the show follows years of controversy surrounding Paltrow and her wellness brand.
In September 2018, the company was forced to pay $145,000 in civil penalties to settle allegations that it made unscientific claims about the health benefits of three of its products: a jade egg designed to be inserted into women’s vaginas to supposedly improve their sex lives, the “heart-activating” Rose Quartz Egg and the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, a tincture that Goop claims “assists in the clearing of guilt, shame, self-criticism and blame.”
Goop made health claims about the products “that were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the Orange County district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Shirley Weir founded Menopause Chicks, an organization dedicated to informing women about perimenopause and menopause, and she predicts The Goop Lab will confuse young and old women alike.
“Even if a woman doesn’t watch the Netflix series, but watches this trailer, it could send her down an uninformed health path.”
As an accredited obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Yolanda Kirkham worries about any wellness product or piece of information that makes a profit — which describes all of the items and services sold by Goop.
“It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact-based information and marketing,” Kirkham told Global News. “We’ve seen from celebrity-backed viral misinformation that results can be harmful or deadly.”
Why people fall for ‘crazy remedies’
In a previous interview with Global News, Gunter said it’s important to note that “women don’t just randomly stick weird sh*t in their vaginas.”
“Somebody who is a trusted authority has led them to believe it’s the right thing to do. They’re not stupid, they’re going online, researching and doing their best,” she said.
“What happened is, instead of meeting the right information, they met a predator, who told them wrong information and it was presented in a science-ish way that made it sound right.”
Kirkham advises people to be cautious.
“Really ask who the source is and what the source of the information might be gaining,” she said.
In an effort to make money, one thing the wellness industry does is “generate fear,” Gunter said.
“It makes people scared of things like toxins, but they don’t actually tell you what those actual things are, or what negative effects they have.”
This often leads consumers to buy any product claiming to fix the problem, without being critical about what the product is or what it contains.
Although all groups of people can be vulnerable to misinformation, women are particularly susceptible because of the “shame and guilt” associated with women’s health.
“Vaginal steaming, jade eggs … these potentially harmful practices can then lead to acceptance of more dangerous activities,” said Kirkham.
“We should be … promoting and communicating good science, quality improvement, patient advocacy and experience,” she said.
“It’s a responsibility of mentors and celebrities to channel their efforts toward this end, rather than promoting misleading content that can lead to distrust of truth and science.
How to spot misinformation
In a previous interview with Global News, Gunter offered four “red flags” for spotting fake health news:
- If it’s offered as a miracle cure. There are no miracles in medicine; that doesn’t happen.
- If it can treat everything. If the list of symptoms that it can treat is extensive, then it’s not true.
- If the word “toxins” is used. Doctors don’t talk about toxins. Studies don’t talk about toxins.
- If the information is coming from a site that’s selling the product. You can’t get quality information from that kind of biased source.
“No one would think that they should get their information on depression from a drug company who makes anti-depressants, right?” she said. “So you shouldn’t get your information on a product, or about the medical condition that product treats, from the person selling the product.”
— With files from Meaghan Wray, Aalia Adam and Elizabeth Palmieri