Full transparency here. I have spent $30 on a bottle of sulfate-free shampoo with “emollient-rich Red Sea kelp.” I have been swayed to spend more on a beauty product if it contains the words “natural,” “organic,” or “botanical” on the label. And (I am ashamed to admit) I have even been persuaded to insert a vaginal egg into my “sacred female space.” Otherwise known as “love eggs,” “jade eggs,” and “yoni eggs,” these pelvic galvinizers purportedly possess the power to help you develop a more loving relationship with your “yoni” (vagina) while powering up your kegel capacities.
Still, it was with a smirking delight that I saw the recent Stephen Colbert send-up of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Wellness Summit, the tickets to which ranged in price between $500 and $1500.
The Goop Media Wars
And it was with an eager finger that I clicked on an op-ed piece in the New York Times over the weekend by Dr. Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain medicine specialist dedicated to “Wielding the lasso of truth” about dangerous health fads aimed at women. Dr. Gunter has raised the ire and media backlash of Paltrow and her goopy promoters by pointing out the dangerous disinformation her brand peddles to women. Those vaginal eggs, for example, may have a connection to toxic shock syndrome because superatigens are reintroduced vaginally with air during jade egg insertion .
It would seem that women are especially vulnerable to the false promise of advertising. Not that I haven’t lived with a “metrosexual” man who spent far more that I ever did on spas and gels and oils, even hair implants. But I’m sure his excesses pale in comparison to what the average woman spends in the $20 billion dollar hair and nail industry. And this newer focus on “pure” and “natural” products only opens the door to more price gouging.
No Face Goop Can Turn Back Time
Why are we so vulnerable to the cons? Why do we suppress our common sense that tells us, no, there is no such thing as an “anti-aging” agent; no, you may be super fit and you may look great for your age but you are aging nonetheless; no, that hair color looks great but it does not take ten years off your face. The bloom of my fertile years is fading. The maiden and mother phases are behind me. I can get rather wistful about it sometimes. But what I want is not eternal youth. What I want is to be a healthy, beautiful, and even desirable crone, one whose age makes her less, not more, susceptible to advertising claims that manipulate my valid concerns about environmental toxins.
The women who attend Goop summits are no doubt younger that I am. And they must have a lot more disposable income than I do. I guess they don’t blink at spending $60 on a .17 ounce compact of “Multipurpose Balm (packed with carrot seed, Marula oil, and Jojoba seed oil.”) They must really buy the hype that it will do more “to moisturize dry lips and to smooth out the wrinkle-prone areas around the mouth and eyes” than, say, my $2 tube of Nivea kissable lip moisturizer or my extravagant purchase of $12 emu oil eye cream.
But the issue is not money. Given Paltrow’s outsized influence, her lack of expertise, and her underlying profit motive, I’m thankful that professionals like Dr. Gunter are (wo)manning the watchtowers and making us think more carefully about our healthcare and beauty consumption. And while I certainly look for alternatives to products that use toxins or test on animals, I think I’ll stick with my $10 Sprouts tub of coconut oil and vials of herbal essences, even if I do splurge on that shampoo.
Today’s post was inspired by Charli Mills’s flash fiction challenge for July 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the word crystalline.
My Crystalline Complexion
The sales associate was all of 20.
“I just want some eye cream,” I said.
“I have the perfect product for you,” she enthused. “The Gone in 60 Seconds Instant Wrinkle Eraser.”
“C’mon, nothing is going to erase my wrinkles,” I said.
“This one will. With all-natural sodium silicate, it instantly erases fine lines and wrinkles. It’ll provide that little bit of a ‘lift’ you need. ”
“Hmmm” I said, my skepticism deepening the frown between my eyebrows.
“Really, I use both the eye and the face cream in the line. I’ve been told I have a crystalline complexion.”