Gwyneth Paltrow pays civil penalty for touting bogus “miracle vagina eggs”

Ah, some rare Schadenfreude. From Snopes (click on screenshot below) via the Associated Press.

Remember a year and a half ago when Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s overpriced purveyor of quackery and “lifestyle” items, touted a jade egg that could, when inserted into a woman’s vagina, do this:

  • harnesses the power of energy work, crystal healing, and a Kegel-like physical practice
  • cleanses, clears, and detoxifies the vagina
  • removes negativity
  • increases chi, orgasms, vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance, and feminine energy.

These claims were made on the Goop website by one “Shiva Rose,” whose arrant and misguided touting of this unhygienic mineral are still up. Yet at the end of her piece (the jade vagina egg sold—and still sells—for $66) was this disclaimer:

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice..

Well, that didn’t fool the state of Californa, whose investigators found that yes, these were real health claims, and no, they didn’t stand up to scrutiny. And so. . . .

As the AP reports (my emphasis):

Prosecutors in eight California counties jointly announced the settlement on Tuesday after a task-force investigation found some of goop’s health claims were unfounded.

The settlement involves advertisements saying goop’s Jade Egg and Rose Quartz Egg could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles and improve bladder control.

In addition to the penalty, the company will provide refunds to customers who ask.

A goop statement says the settlement acknowledges no liability on the company’s part and addresses only advertising, not the products themselves. The statement says there is honest disagreement between the sides, but goop wanted to settle the matter quickly and amicably.

Honest disagreement? Does Gwynnie still think sticking a semi-porous hunk of nephrite in your nether orifice really detoxifies it and balances your chi to boot? No, there is disagreement between the sides, but it’s not honest at all—at least not if Gwynnie has two neurons to rub together. Or hasn’t she read the jade-egg criticism of Dr. Jen Gunter, who regularly takes apart Goop’s ridiculous health claims, another being coffee enemas, which can cause colitis, rectal performation, and death (see here)? Do not put coffee in your butt!

Paltrow’s continuing claim that this is “honest disagreement” shows that she’s not repentant at all, but is in fact continuing to endanger people’s health (mostly women, who are the targets of Goop). People could die following her advice. Of course you can also die following many physicians’ advice, but this is different: jade vagina eggs and coffee enemas have no known benefit.  Yet those jade eggs are still offered by Goop (click on screenshot):

And some claims are still there:

p.s. If you bought one of these things, get your refund immediately. And remember, kids, coffee is for drinking and jade is for wearing as jewelry or to look at as sculpture.

 

h/t: Su

48 Comments

  1. Claudia Baker
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Paltrow: laughing all the way to the quackery bank.

    • mikeyc
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      That’s what it’s all about.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Yup: for Paltrow all publicity, even negative publicity, is good publicity.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    A recent Wait Wait Dont Tell Me went to town ridiculing this – a funny quote/paraphrase : “the woman was like “I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place””

  3. Sastra
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    From my experience, the weasel phrase “honest disagreement” perfectly reflects the “stifle all argument” attitude of the alternative health crowd. When they’re together and think they’re alone, they discuss the distinction between mainstream medicine and holistic healing in terms of truth and utility. One side is mostly worthless, often harmful, and stuck in a benighted, regressive, arrogant, and self-confirming rut. The other side is Alternative Medicine!

    But introduce skepticism and now it turns out that they’re just talking about preferences. The choice between mainstream and alternative is just like someone choosing one form of exercise over another. You like to jog, I like to swim — can’t we both get along? Do I have to be just like you?

    Or, alternatively, it’s like religion. It’s a matter of faith. If you believe it works, it will. If you don’t believe it works, then you’re spiritually stunted — which is totally okay if the stunted shuts up. There’s simply no arbitrating the issue, so we have to agree to disagree.

    It’s an effective strategy— or ought to be, from their standpoint. Cooperation, peace, and harmony within diversity is one of the most laudable goals. They’re framing it to their advantage in a perfect example of passive aggression.

    • rickflick
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      “If you believe it works, it will”

      The placebo effect will often be in play so that, indeed, sometimes it will seem to “work”. Actual scientific trials, though, are probably never discussed by the practitioners. They probably lurch when the topic is mentioned and try to change the subject.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 9, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        ‘The placebo effect will often be in play so that, indeed, sometimes it will seem to “work”’.

        I’d say it actually does work – within the limits of what the placebo effect can do.

        This is probably most noticeable in pain relief – pain is a weird phenomenon and very strongly mediated by the brain. Not so much so for bacterial infections.

        (Just for the record I think most alternative medicine is bullshit; I guess even bullshit works sometimes).

        cr

    • eric
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      I think in this case the ‘honest disagreement’ is between Paltrow’s Lawyers and the CA Government, over whether making a big misleading statement and then putting a ‘only an opinion’ caveat at the end meets the requirement of various truth-in-advertising laws. CA says no, they think the caveat addresses the requirement.

      Very glad CA stamped down on this. I’m sure she’ll sell lots of eggs even without the health testimonial, but this will at least protect the people who would normally think “the government wouldn’t let them say that if it weren’t true, would they?”

  4. Historian
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Even if this scam disappears, it will only be replaced by another. The selling of snake oil goes back millennia, at least. The sale of the egg is really no different than the Catholic Church selling indulgences. Many people will allow themselves to be duped in the pursuit of easy solutions to their problems. This is why Trump, the ultimate con artist, has had his success.

    • Christopher
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Perhaps a Snake Oil enema would lubricate these people’s heads enough to allow for a retraction from their rectums…or more likely allow for new things to be inserted.

      I can’t help but think about what George Carlin said once, something to the effect that the stupid kid who swallows too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own. Well, we’ve spent generations protecting these stupid kids from themselves and now they’ve had even more stupid kids who are dumb enough to stick marbles and similar objects up the other end.

  5. BJ
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    This is like when the FTC fines some investment bank/financial services/large corporation for repeatedly and intentionally violating the rules and making billions of dollars in the process: levy a fine that sounds like a lot of money, but is a pittance for the company and is often dwarfed by the money made from the illegal activity. This case isn’t an exact parallel — I assume that Goop/Paltrow didn’t make much more than $145,000 from selling this particular product — but it’s still pocket change for the company and Goop will continue to make millions from its many other lies and false representations.

  6. Historian
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    At the Baffler site, Jessa Crispin say this about Goop:

    “Goop built its business by exploiting the body dysmorphia and health anxieties of upper-middle-class women, warning them of the deadly, gut-clogging toxins that hide themselves in things like corn and aspirin. The quest for optimally wholesome consumption represented a natural progression from the faux health empire built by Oprah, who amplified the voices of dubious supplement-peddlers like Dr. Oz and anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy; and Paltrow managed the transition ably—while also making the underlying business model whiter and richer. With official Goop products like $395 wool pajamas, $75-per-month vitamin and supplement subscription plans, and toxin-free scented candles with “healing properties,” how can one talk about any of this without a mocking tone?”

    Crispin goes on to say that companies like Goop have been successful because they are a reaction to a medical profession dominated by the male patriarchy. She says: “The problem is as much patriarchy and corporate greed as viruses, and Goop and its ilk will thrive unless and until a more equitable and widely available model of nonpatriarchal health care make such boondoggles unnecessary.”

    One can argue about whether Goop arose because of the male patriarchy, but certainly the description of it seems correct.

    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/beyond-goop-and-evil-crispin

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      “One can argue about whether Goop arose because of the male patriarchy, but certainly the description of it seems correct.”

      I think I’d be more likely to ascribe it to “there’s one born every minute”.

      (I could cynically use Goop and womens magazines as ‘evidence’ that women are dumb, but then I could easily find just as many examples of prototypical male dumbness. Goop just happens to appeal to the female portion of the braindead population).

      As such, I don’t really think that ‘fixing’ health care will deter scams like Goop. Unfortunately.

      cr

      • Diane G
        Posted September 10, 2018 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        “…but then I could easily find just as many examples of prototypical male dumbness.”

        Just have a listen to most sports-radio talk shows. 😉

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 10, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          I wouldn’t contest that.

          cr

    • Posted September 10, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      I wonder if she got the idea for the name from Reggie Perrin’s shop

      • Posted September 10, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Sorry, out of practice with URLs. The shop is called “Grot”.

    • Posted October 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      “Goop built its business by exploiting the body dysmorphia and health anxieties of upper-middle-class women…”
      So much for the supposed correlation between IQ and socio-economic status.
      I don’t think patriarchy has anything to do with the phenomenon.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I like the alliterative quality of
    “nephrite in your nether”.

    But surely, JAC, by “rectal performation” you mean “rectal perforation”.

    • Christopher
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Well, I would argue that one follows the other…

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    “removes negativity”

    “Damn, baby, maybe it’s time to reinsert Gwynnie’s goop egg,” woulda been one more wiseass way of getting myself deeper in the doghouse in the middle of fight, had I been unlucky enough ever to have heard of the things before.

    “Yeah, and maybe it’s time to reinsert your head up your rectum,” I’m pretty sure woulda come the response.

  9. rickflick
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    What? Bladder control? Orgasms? And all without quantum energy or spontaneous non-local opportunities? I guess you shouldn’t ask to many questions.

    • Diane G
      Posted September 10, 2018 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      Well, they are GMO-free.

      • Posted September 10, 2018 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Gluten-free as well.

        • rickflick
          Posted September 10, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Well, bless my sandals!
          *adjusts pony tail*
          Awesome!

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The funny thing here, actually not funny, is her products are probably not as dangerous as those her mother is hawking in the name of osteoporosis. You get by with more when you are dealing with big pharma. Like mother, like daughter.

  11. Posted September 9, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t seen her mother’s ads, fortunately. Though always thought that Blythe was a better actress than Gwyneth.

  12. Posted September 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “Do not put coffee in your butt!”
    However, it’s ok to drink coffee that is excreted from a butt. Namely the butt of the Palm civet, also known as civet cat:

    http://www.most-expensive.coffee

    The link will give you the lowdown and is quite interesting.
    Paltrow could probably afford a cup @ $35 – $100… literally, no Shit!
    But if you read on, like Gwyneth it is open to all sorts of shenanigans.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      “literally, no Shit!”

      Errm, literally, that is incorrect. 😉

      Also, the Asian palm civet is a viverrid (whatever the heck that is), not a true cat. Therefore, although our feline lords and masters may claim that all their effluvia are necessarily divine, I don’t think the same can be extended to an imitation.

      cr

      • Posted September 10, 2018 at 2:40 am | Permalink

        The reference to no shit is first, the price of a cup and second, as per the link,
        ” They separate the coffee beans from the feces, wash them and then dry them in the sun. Once the beans are dry enough to remove the outer skin or parchment easily, they are put into a wooden mortar and pounded with a pestle.”
        as i said No shit.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 10, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          OK. I guess that depends on which adjective one uses for something that has been through the digestive system of an animal. And has been… modified by its passage (else what’s the point of doing it at all?)

          So it’s a distinction that is lost on me.

          cr

          • Posted September 10, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

            “So it’s a distinction that is lost on me”

            No, you have not lost anything i’m just being very loose with the definition.
            Technically it is the gut process that alters the taste but the bean (or seed) is not digested, it just passes through the animal.
            Can i suggest reading the link to see how this came about, to me, it is not a nice story (it stinks) although the palm civet has possibly saved itself from extinction.

  13. Posted September 9, 2018 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    rectal performation

    I assume it should be “rectal perforation”?

  14. Posted September 9, 2018 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    And, she should be calling them front hole eggs.

  15. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    “Goop Jade Egg $66

    Used by women to increase sexual energy and pleasure”

    I presume the instruction leaflet mentions to remember to take it out first?

    cr

    • rickflick
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      😎

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, I don’t know how big that egg is. Looks pretty small to me.

    Searching ‘polished stone’ on Ebay suggests you can get considerably larger and more decorative specimens for rather less money than Gwyneth charges. Like a palm-sized labradorite for around $25. Though I suppose then you’d want to display it on your bookshelf rather than hiding it where the sun don’t shine.

    Conclusion – for a rather small piece of quartz or jade like Paltrow’s, I’d guess the cost to her would be under $10, probably under $5.

    cr

    • Posted October 16, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      But these cheap ones are patriarchal!

  17. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted September 10, 2018 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Wow! She’s out a half-hour worth of revenue from her scams. She must be devastated. Why is she still in business? This is bullshit.

  18. John Ottaway
    Posted September 10, 2018 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    “Do not put coffee in your butt!”

  19. Posted September 10, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Yeah, this fine is ludicrously low.

    But then again, if it were just a solid egg and marketed as a sex toy, it would likely go well with the regulators.


%d bloggers like this: