Gwyneth Paltrow's version of 'wellness' is dangerous and irresponsible
Opinion: Why the famous "Almond Mum" needs to stop giving us terrible advice.
Another week, another controversial Gwyneth Paltrow interview. The self-appointed wellness guru and Goop queen chatted to Dr Will Cole last week for his The Art of Being Well podcast, detailing her daily "wellness routine" – which included questionable diet habits like fasting until midday, and eating nothing but bone broth for lunch. Oh, and occasionally she might also occasionally throw in a celery juice with lemon (insert eye roll emoji here).
TikTok jumped on the interview, dubbing Gwyneth an "Almond Mum" – a term that has emerged online to describe mothers who peddle in advice that promotes toxic diet culture. The phrase emerged in 2013, when ex-model and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star (and mum to models Bella and Gigi Hadid), Yolanda Hadid, told daughter Gigi on the show to "have a couple of almonds and chew them really well". Gigi had told her on the phone that she was feeling weak from under-eating.
It's not a stretch to label Gwyneth as such – back in 2013 she revealed in her cookbook that she didn't feed her children bread, rice or pasta, because she thought carbohydrates were bad for them, and in 2012 told broadcaster Jonathan Ross that she'd rather "smoke crack" than eat spray cheese from a can.
It's the kind of advice that Gwyneth has spun into a multi-million-dollar wellness business, centred around her controversial website Goop. And while advertising authorities are targeting influencers peddling vitamins on Instagram, they seem to have no issue with Goop suggesting their readers try a multitude of questionable therapies alongside tested treatments from actual scientists and doctors.
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Between attempting to convince us that bee sting therapy is a thing, to lecturing us about water having "feelings" and suggesting people avoid potentially life-saving sunscreen because it contains chemicals, Goop's advice ranges from the ridiculous to the possibly dangerous.
Diet culture no place for armchair experts
But when it comes to diet culture, and the influence that ultra-thin celebrities like Paltrow can have on vulnerable people battling eating disorders, as documented in a 2021 Journal of Health Psychology study, there's absolutely no place for armchair experts. Diet advice is safest when dispensed by a dietician or an expert in nutrition, and Paltrow is neither.
Following the interview, New York dietician Sammi Haber Brondo told Buzzfeed that Gwyneth's diet "screams disordered eating", explaining that it was "not enough food for anyone" and pointed out Gwyneth's misuse of technical terms like methylation "to seem like she knows what she's talking about".
Beyond the problematic use of scientific terms in order to position herself as an expert, Gwyneth's alignment of herself and her habits as "wellness" is a concerning issue.
Ultimately, by positioning herself within the wellness space – and her reach via Goop is not insignificant, with SimilarWeb estimating that the website attracts some 1.8 million visits per month – she is essentially communicating to her fans that they should model their choices on her supposedly "healthy" lifestyle.
It's not surprising that despite the controversy, Gwyneth has many fans – she's beautiful, thin, and successful, why wouldn't impressionable people want to model themselves after someone like that? The issue here is that Gwyneth herself seems to believe her own hype; after all, the attention – negative or otherwise – all feeds into the Goop marketing machine, endlessly driving clicks to the website sprinkled with links to purchase products, including their own GOOPGLOW brand.
The question is – for a website that authoritatively describes itself as featuring "cutting-edge wellness advice from doctors" – where are the regulators? Surely it's time to start nipping this concerning, and potentially misleading, pseudo-medical advice in the bud.
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