A Canadian doctor who has long been an outspoken critic of Gwyneth Paltrow and the questionable health advice on her lifestyle website, Goop, has now found herself the target of an attack by the site's team.
On Thursday, Paltrow tweeted out a link to a new Goop post that focuses on Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician/ gynecologist in San Francisco, who grew up and studied medicine in Manitoba.
The "Goop team” writes that this will be the first of many articles to confront their critics and give the site’s doctors a chance to respond.
The post goes on to defend “vaginal jade eggs,” which are US$66 jade rocks designed to be inserted into the vagina to help “connect the second chara (sic) and yoni for optimal self-love and wellbeing” and to make a woman “feel more in touch with her sexuality, and more empowered.”
The Goop team notes Dr. Gunter “posted a mocking response on her site” about jade eggs, and that “there was a tremendous amount of press pick-up on the doctor’s post.”
In fact, Dr. Gunter has been one of Goop’s and Paltrow’s most vocal critics. (She has an entire category on her blog debunking Goop’s advice for women)
In one post earlier this spring, Dr. Gunter pointed out several health concerns with the eggs. She was particularly concerned that jade is porous and could harbour bacteria that could put users at risk for all sorts of infections, including potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome.
She said not only is there no science to back up the use of the eggs, “selling women biologically implausible devices and unstudied practices under the guise of reclaiming sensuality is harmful.”
In its post Thursday, the Goop editors call the doctor’s concerns “strangely confident.” They write that Dr. Gunter has been “taking advantage” of the attention her criticisms have brought her and has attacked Goop “to build her personal platform -- ridiculing the women who might read our site in the process.”
They go on to defend their products and advice, saying: “We simply want information; we want autonomy over our health… Our primary place is in addressing people, women in particular, who are tired of feeling less-than-great, who are looking for solutions."
Dr. Gunter has countered that “selling women biologically implausible devices and unstudied practices” can actually be disempowering.
“Imagine how a woman might feel who plunks down $66 for a jade egg and gets no benefit -- or worse, hurts herself?” she wrote.
On Thursday, Dr. Gunter, who is vacationing in England, responded to the Goop post:
I am just one doctor with a blog @goop so if I can get under your skin with facts so easily you must have very weak ideas indeed— Jennifer Gunter (@DrJenGunter) July 13, 2017
Timothy Caulfield, a professor in the faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, wrote a book about the influence celebrities wield, called “Is Gwyneth Wrong About Everything?”
He says it can be easy to dismiss some of the “nonsense” that Paltrow and Goop promote but -- as he argues in his book -- there are many who put stock in a product or practice if it's been endorsed by a celebrity.
“This stuff matters. Some of the stuff they promote is dangerous, but what celebrities say matters,” he said, adding “I truly believe that detoxes and cleanses wouldn’t exist but for celebrities.”
Caulfield, who claims Dr. Gunter as a personal friend, says he finds the “twisted logic” of the post infuriating, but is also irritated they went after the physician herself.
“They say they’re taking the high road. But then they make these personal attacks,” he told CTVNews.ca by phone.
He says Gunter has used her medical experience to debunk point by point so many of the site’s claims.
“Jen is a gynecologist so this is her area of expertise. She writes these posts quickly, she does it with humour, and in a way that’s relevant to the general public,” he said.
Caulfield calls Goop’s decision to attack Dr. Gunter a “tactical error,” since it might only draw more attention to her posts, and notes support for Dr. Gunter is growing with the #TeamJen hashtag.
“This whole thing has blown up into something much bigger than I would have expected, which I really think speaks to the frustration that Gwyneth engenders,” he said.