Tuesday, October 16, 2018

the many layers of selling wellness



Here at the farm in my newly dusted off fortress-of-solitude office I holler up to the roof where we keep a menagerie of chipmunks enslaved, running on hamster wheels next to the satellite dish that communicates with the world wide web. (Who said I was against the exploitation of free labor?) FASTER CHIPMUNKS! I shout out the window so as to get the webpage of GOOP to load, with its confetti of landing page videos and oscillating tight-faced garden vegetable eating white women.

I have journeyed to the mecca of web wellness this morning because I've just gotten off the phone with Susan, my mother, the soapmaker. News from wholesale soap headquarters: Goop is driving her crazy. Like any large corporate entity with a complex shipping warehouse, Goop is extremely particular about how our soap is labeled and shipped to their warehouse. They require that we print a specific label - in yellow ink only - on each box of soap that we ship them. One thing about my mother - she does not like waste - and she's throwing out perfectly good inkjet cartridges left and right.

A larger company might buy a printer that has individual colored ink cartridges. And a larger company might accept Goop's new terms - they notified Susan this week that they would only be paying 45% of our suggested retail price instead of the standard 50%. This is the real reason Susan called this morning - would we concede to this demand? Goop has major market influence and right now I'm working to expand the soapmaking operation to help fund our work here at Worlds End. If there's one entity I won't compromise with it's a corporate bully. I call Susan back and tell her to pull the account.

To be frank, I enjoyed my deep dive into Goop. I discover a lot of interesting content about exercises to tighten my pelvic floor for stronger orgasms and drinking collagen for nicer skin. Which means I'm looking for better orgasms or nicer skin? Am I? Here in lies the trouble with goop and the wellness industry as a whole -- it thrives on people feeling un-well in order to profit. It needs people to feel lousy and it thrives on a sense of not good enough. 

But theres a deeper problem that underpins all of that, and it has to do with the way women are with each other.

Over the summer Taffy Brodessor Anker wrote a profile about Goop and it's founder Gwenyth Paltrow. In it she spends considerable time comparing herself (they're the same age, they both have two children, etc) to Paltrow. Anker is a great writer but I was so disappointed by the level of self deprecation she employes to be funny and make her point. We read about her giant feet compared to Gwenyth's Barbie-like toes, and we read a painful comparison of her children to Apple and Moses. At the end of the piece she devolves into a excruciating account of hustling through LAX to get home to her own life.

I'm tired of this brand of insidious female comparison masked as self deprecating humor. It makes me feel sad. It perpetuates the deep seeded mythology that constantly calls for women to be small, humble, non-threatening and well liked. There is too much comparison and judgement that occurs between women. It wastes time and keeps us from our real feminine prowess.


10 comments:

Heiress Emma said...

I'm so glad you made the decision to leave Goop. It seems to me to be a deeply unhealthy and misguided site.

JEN said...

Agreed, you don't need Goop. Large corporations are notorious for pulling stunts like that. (Btw, I've enjoyed your resurgence in the blog world.)

thea said...

yes. to all of this. keep the posts coming. please. thank you.

and even though I once (only once) ordered something from GOOP im glad you pulled your order. that site, though I find it sometimes interesting, also leaves me with an icky feeling. probably mostly for the reasons you touch upon here.

Thea, Certified Framing said...

Your mother packs the soap impeccably. We are a small shop and only only place like one order a year but her efforts do not go unnoticed. 5% on a item under 20$??! The margins aren’t there for a small batch product. Thank you for this transparency. Retail is shady and greedy but it doesn’t have to be.

Unknown said...

Can I just say, I know I'm a little slow here, but I am SO glad to be reading your posts again.

Sarah York said...

Yes to all of this. And good for you pulling your soap from Goop.

Miss Natalie said...

Thank you for the transparency and so glad you stood up to the big corporate entity! It's a pleasure to see more posts from you and hear all the poetic ramblings. They are gems and so many of us are reading and nodding along.

Anonymous said...

I f*kin hate goop and deeply respect your decision

Issa said...

Currently doing a standing ovation in my living room

Anonymous said...

Love this, and consistently buy your soaps through Beautyhabit, Follain, or a local shop, anyway (not Goop!). The Clary Sage has recently gained new fans; please pass along my compliments to the chef! Scent, feel, packaging, everything. ��