Gwyneth Paltrow, the founder of the infamous "modern lifestyle brand" Goop, has been wrestling with one of the greatest existential questions there is: what exactly is a fact?
It's not something she often has to consider in her business. Goop likes to market itself as a place where questions about health and fitness are answered in a "curious, unbiased, open-minded" way, but to Paltrow, none of that requires consulting fact, science or reason.
In a brand-new feature that is somehow both revealing and predictable at the same time, The New York Times reveals that after much thought (read: flack), Goop will now be hiring a lawyer, an editor from Condé Nast, a man with a PhD in nutritional science, a director of science and research from Stanford, and (dum, da, da, da!) a fact-checker.
At first, Paltrow couldn't figure out why she had to do this, even after multiple accusations of deceptive marketing and inquiry.
"We're never making statements," she told NYT reporter Taffy Brodesser-Akner about Goop's magazine. Goop's chief content officer clarified by saying that they are only asking questions.
In other words, Goop is less like a lifestyle brand and more like that annoying 9-year-old who can't stop asking about everything that they come across. The only difference is, for Goop the question isn't: why is the sky blue? Instead, it's more like: does sticking a jade egg up my hooha achieve anything? Or, will giving myself a coffee enema in the convenience of my own home fulfil my psyche?
The point here is not what Goop is asking. It's that the company does not want to hear the answer or advice from real scientists. And Goop has proved this over and over again. Even now, the wellness page on Goop's site is peddling things like intuition, tarot cards, energy healing, energy vampires (yes, actually), and astrology.
But according to the revealing feature, Paltrow celebrated all of the bad publicity because, ultimately, it drove more people to the company. She calls all of the uproar "cultural firestorms," and she is using them to her advantage. She seems to believe that the flack is just what happens when you bring up women's health.
Paltrow was telling this to a group of Harvard students during a class, when, as the NYT put it, "She then cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, "VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!" as if she were yodeling."
That isn't about fact-checking at all, but it is necessary that people know this story.
Anyway, at some point, the bad press began to outweigh the good sales. Only now has Paltrow given in, and the timing says it all. Oh no wait, Paltrow said it all. She told the NYT she saw it as a "necessary growing pain."
Goop may now have a fact-checker, but don't be fooled. That does not mean that the company is any more interested in finding out the truth - only in avoiding a lawsuit.
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