Gwyneth Paltrow’s commonwealth of aspirational feel-goodery is now reaching across the gender aisle with Goop Men. There’s the good, there’s the bad, and there’s the snugly, like this $28,900 flotation pod Goop tells us is “tech you need right now”.
A theme already emerges from Goop Men’s early offerings, and it’s that men need to make peace with their vulnerability and embrace compassion. Their flagship podcast, goopfellas, features an entire episode pointing out the wisdom in men asking for help when dealing with addiction, which I hope we can all agree is a good thing. And their introductory episode (titled “The Warrior Construct”) features Keith Mitchell, a former football player turned “Celebrity Yogi”, who preaches for meditation and vulnerability: “There’s gonna be compassion, there’s gonna be patience, and not even just with anybody else, but starting simply with yourself,” he says at the 10-minute mark. “And when you begin to create that with yourself, it naturally rolls and flows out to everyone else that you’re interacting with.” It’s a shame that Mitchell also spreads chemophobia and anti-GMO sentiment on his website, but that’s Goop for you. The threads of sympathetic advice, opulent ambitions, and pseudoscientific claptrap are tightly woven. They’re not meant to be disentangled.
An article on psychedelics (tagged “Supported by Science”) is, by my own non-expert appraisal, quite scientific and nuanced. Another one on low testosterone levels (marked as “Speculative but Promising”, the Quack Miranda warning of Goop) relies on the basic premise that we need to do something about low testosterone, which is “debatable” according to Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist and associate of our Office. The article doesn’t properly explain the complicated nature of testing for naturally fluctuating levels of the hormone, he tells me, but it does highlight that testosterone replacement can be dangerous if done improperly. “A small number of people have true hypogonadism and need treatment,” he concludes, “but evidence has shown that the majority of people who are given testosterone replacement therapy do not need it.”
Another “speculative” article focuses on the microbiome, that bacterial ecosystem that lives on and inside our body and that is the subject of much hype. In it, they interview a “biologic dentist” who completed Harvard’s program in complementary and alternative medicine and who claims that “healing the body helps heal the mouth”. I reached out to Grant Ritchey, a dentist practicing in Kansas and a contributor to Science-Based Medicine. Does healing the body heal the mouth through the oral microbiome? “Well, not exactly. It’s true in general terms, like when a person has good nutrition, stops smoking and exercises, or if someone has uncontrolled diabetes, it will show up orally.” What about the biologic dentist’s claim that the germ theory is outdated, that bacteria are not the cause of tooth decay and gum disease, and that naturopathic medicine was right all along in blaming the microbial terrain? “Wrong. The germ theory is alive and well, even in the mouth. Of course, we have found it to be much more complex than we thought a hundred years ago but, in general, if there are no germs, there cannot be gum disease or tooth decay.”
These alternative facts, however, simply get braided into a desirable narrative, showcasing affluent men who have revitalized themselves by championing sciency-sounding natural solutions. Dr. Will Cole, co-host of goopfellas, writes about his morning routine, casually peppered with functional scents, a ketotarian diet dashed with marine collagen, a pair of $235 casual pants, a Prius electric car, and a wife who works out with her personal trainer at home. And transmogrifying these aspirations to your reality only requires an open mind, an emotional vulnerability, and a type of hyped-up gadgetry that might as well be called “welltech”. Whether it’s a posture trainer, an electrified headset meant to switch your brain to hyperlearning mode, or your own personal infrared sauna, you can bet the science behind it is being stretched beyond recognition, and so will your wallet if you click on the affiliate link.
I don’t know if Goop Men’s target audience is big enough for it to take flight. I suspect many men would rather orbit around Joe Rogan or the emerging Silicon Valley “bro science” gravity well, which emphasizes “cutting-edge science” and body hacking. Discussions around toxic masculinity—the idea that men are often encouraged to behave in ways that can be harmful to both society and themselves—are becoming more prevalent, and Goop Men is plunging into this pool head first. We just have to be mindful not to fall for pseudoscience on our way to kindness. As the saying goes, an open mind is a good thing, but not so open that your brains fall out.
- Goop Men is a new section on the website of Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop
- It is a mixture of healthier masculinity, expensive aspirational living, and pseudoscientific claims
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