New York Magazine

The Wellness Epidemic

When Gwyneth Paltrow first launched Goop in 2008, it was a great place to find out where to eat the best tapas in Barcelona. It was straight-up celebrity-lifestyle voyeurism, and Paltrow, with her long blonde hair and aura of complete self-satisfaction, was irresistible. There’s the expression “living your best life,” and then there is Paltrow: best life manifest.

But then Goop’s focus started to shift. Paltrow began to describe in detail her exercise regimen with her trainer Tracy Anderson, who believes one should work out two hours a day, six days a week. Then she began providing information on a cleanse she does each January. The mission became less about revealing the trappings of the good life and more about the notion that the really good life is internal. Rich and beautiful people don’t just go to nicer places, their organs work better. They even know how to breathe better, with more oxygen per ounce. They’re not afraid to try fecal transplants, with really top-notch, vegan-only feces. Goop became less about hotels and restaurants and more about chakras and thyroids, with the implication that maybe what’s actually standing between you and your inner Gwyneth is some mysterious virus that your overextended, pharmaceutically corrupt doctor is too narrow-minded to address.

Goop began publishing long interviews with doctors, healers, and shamans. One of its most-shared pieces is an interview with Oscar Serrallach, an Australian doctor, about “postnatal depletion,” which suggested that women live in a depleted state for up to ten years after the birth of a child. Among the contributing factors: overwhelming stress, nutrient-poor food, and “electrosmog.” While Goop had traditionally done well selling products related to its content (spiralizers blew up after Paltrow’s recipe for “zucchini cacio e pepe” went live), what could it sell a woman who’s just received medical confirmation that the negative feelings simmering in her gut are not just in her mind? How about vitamins? Goop Wellness now offers four vitamin “protocols” (protocols and practice are words you’ll encounter a lot in this world) based on four common complaints: The Mother Load addresses postnatal depletion; High School Genes is for women who find it harder to lose weight as they age (i.e., all women); Why Am I So Effing Tired? is for the pernicious fatigue faced by do-it-all women; and Balls in the Air is similar, only more for the chronically stressed.

“It’s been overwhelming,” says Ashley Lewis, senior director of wellness at Goop. “We sold over $100,000 worth of vitamins on day one, and that trajectory has just continued.”

Wellness is a very broad idea, which is no small part of its marketing appeal. On the most basic level, it’s about making a conscious effort to attain health in both body and mind, to strive for unity and balance. And it’s not a new idea either. Homeopathy, which uses natural substances to promote the

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