Goop is responding to critics—again.
Today, in a letter titled “Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors,” the lifestyle website defended its support of unorthodox health practices, and the medical professionals who advocate them. The three-tier piece includes a general note from the editors along with statements from two doctors who are Goop contributors.
“As Goop has grown, so has the attention we receive,” begins the letter. “We consistently find ourselves to be of interest to many—and for that, we are grateful—but we also find that there are third parties who critique Goop to leverage that interest and bring attention to themselves.”
The brand routinely posts information about procedures that fall outside the realm of traditional medicine: crystal therapies, vitamin supplements, and more recently, vaginal jade eggs (which one gynecologist called a “load of garbage“). Such content has made the site, helmed by Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, the subject of much criticism and ridicule online.
Now, Goop is firing back in what’s becoming an epic schoolyard back-and-forth tiff between Western and alternative medicine. The letter takes issue with “indiscriminate attacks that question the motivation and integrity of the doctors who contribute to the site.” And this will be the first in a series of posts on Goop revisiting controversial topics and offering space for doctors to respond “in a respectful and substantive manner.”
Dr. Steven Gundry is one contributor who helped pen the letter. The cardiologist wrote the book The Plant Paradox, which claims that gluten is just one variety of a common, and highly toxic, plant-based protein called lectin. Gundry holds that many commonly thought “safe” fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans possess these lectins that “incite a kind of chemical warfare” within our bodies. He shared his theory in a Goop essay called “Are We Wrong About What Makes Food Healthy?”
Dr. Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN who consistently scolds Goop, then published a response on her blog headlined, “Dear Gwyneth Paltrow we’re not f**king with you we’re correcting you, XOXO Science.” Gunter took aim at the lectin theory, among other ideas pedaled by Goop, adding that medical professionals and journalists are exasperated by the site and forced into “almost constant debunking of the health ‘advice’ and all around medical bullshit” on Goop. It was harsh.
In today’s letter, Gundry responds with a laundry list of qualifications, citing his alma mater, conventions he’s invited to speak at, and that he has “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.”
Gundry is accomplished, but he’s also someone who holds that taking just one Aleve is like “swallowing a hand-grenade.” It’s understandable why some might question his current research.
Gundry also touched upon how offended he was that Gunter used “the F-bomb” in her critique.
“A very wise Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan once instructed me to never write anything that my mother or child wouldn’t be proud to read,” he writes. “I hope, for the sake of your mother and child, that a re-reading of your article fails his test, and following his sage advice, that you will remove it.”
Perhaps there’s a detox regimen for blog brawls?
Unfortunately, very little in Goop’s letter advances the discussion about alternative practices or invites significantly better understanding of the doctors’ findings. It plays more like a reprimand from the school principal to “play nice.”
The letter continues with Goop and its doctors explaining their commitment to the expression of new, under-the-radar ideas, which includes both Western and Eastern modalities. Many of us can agree with that philosophy, but it’s difficult to understand the need for such a public counterattack considering that Goop content includes a disclaimer: “This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.”
It’s also challenging to have any sympathy for the publication seeing how the brand nearly courts this kind of attention. In a previous interview with Fast Company, CEO Gwyneth Paltrow proudly admitted, “There are a lot of media companies that would die to have the kind of response that we get from our content.”
Which begs the question: Is this all just a marketing ploy? A way to publicly defend yourself… while still keeping the discussion on yourself?
Despite the plea that they are simply offering—not pushing—the exchange of new ideas, the company very blatantly profits from their “expression.” You can buy an vaginal jade egg in the Goop online shop, the contributors each sell their own line of products, and the brand just released their own collection of $90 supplements.
On one hand, the brand claims to be the expert source on new alternative practices, but then on the other, their content and products are loaded with disclaimers, assigning responsibility to the consumer, not the conveyor. Then, Goop takes a defensive stance instead of welcoming peer review.
Meanwhile, Paltrow appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live just last month and said, laughing, “I don’t know what the fuck we talk about.”
Till Goop solidifies its position, expect more insult-throwing between the brand and its dissenters. Feel free to chime in, but please, for the sake of your mother and child, watch your language.