There was talk of the afterlife, reincarnation, and fasting.
Women lined up to receive injections. And at one point, people wore masks.
No, we're not describing the dark ceremonies of a cult. Oh wait, maybe we are, because this all happened at actress-turned-lifestyle-guru Gwyneth Paltrow's "In Goop Health" wellness summit in New York City last weekend.
Yes, the same woman whose infamous lifestyle website Goop has suggested shooting coffee up our anuses and steaming our vaginas hosted an entire wellness summit, where tickets ranging from $650 (the "turmeric" package) to $2,000 US (the "ginger" package) gave you access to various health and wellness panels, wellness treatments such as "supercharged wellness shots," classes, meditation, and, of course, a swag bag containing assorted Goop products.
Among Paltrow and Goop's many outspoken health critics is Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a well-known Canadian OB-GYN and pain medicine physician.
Gunter, who describes herself as "here to build a better medical internet," has used her blog to debunk much of Goop's questionable medical advice, including the coffee enema kit, vaginal steaming, and the jade eggs.
So, when the opportunity to attend the "In Goop Health" wellness summit in New York City presented itself, Gunter "volunteered as tribute," she wrote in her most recent blog post.
She didn't try to conceal her identity, Gunter wrote, and was worried she might be blacklisted, but when she realized a third party was handling registration, she knew she was in.
"I did consider that I was just full of myself and they just didn't care about me attending, however, along the way I received a tip that the GOOPsters hate me more than gluten, cow's milk, and McChemicals combined so I think they just never thought I would go. Knowing that and managing to get in made it worth every penny," she wrote.
A 'health-defining' day
Goop's wellness summit, described on the Goop website as "a health-defining day," is a full day of panels from "health-defining doctors and experts," "experiential activations" including meditation, acupuncture, and tarot card readings, and a chance to hear from celebrities including Drew Barrymore, Chelsea Handler and, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow herself.
The start of the day felt a lot like "The Hunger Games," Gunter wrote in her blog.
"I felt as if I was walking up to an arena. They gave us fancy slippers and almost everyone put them on except me. If shit got real cult-wise or they tried to throw me out I wanted to be able to run. Katniss would never give up her shoes."
In the event hall, women lined up to receive B-12 injections without having to sign a consent form, give a medical history, or have a physical exam, Gunter wrote.
"There were non-toxic manicures that smelled as bad as regular manicures, some weird facial station that involved a mask that looked like an early prototype from Phantom of the Opera, and Sonic Womb music," she described.
There were many snacks, such as chia pudding, avocado toast, and charcoal lemonade, Gunter wrote.
"The coffee was good. No enemas though."
But questionable food and injections aside, Gunter's main issue with "In Goop Health," she wrote, were the claims made by panellists. These included assertions that "we don't need evidence-based medicine if we have experiences," "spontaneous healing from cancer and infections can happen with love," and "A deep spiritual journey can cure anything," Gunter wrote.
One panellist, author of New York Times bestseller Dying to Be Me Anita Moorjani, asserted that you can heal cancer with love, Gunter wrote.
"There was nothing constructive. This was not the place or space to find even three things to do or change heath-wise. It was a place to come and steep in the cult of GP and to be told that death is cool and that love cures everything," Gunter wrote.
"That cool, edgy wellness means a woman should trust her body to cure itself because science doesn't know shit and experience is all you need. That God/nature/Goture has a plan and even if that includes some creepy dude sitting next to you telling you to smile, it's all good because the Universe wants him there. And if your kid gets sick or you get cancer, well, I guess you just didn't love enough."
Responses to Gunter's post were overwhelmingly supportive, with one reader even calling her a "national treasure."
"To hear that people honestly believe that you die because it's easy or because you weren't loved enough or because you didn't really want to live it makes my blood boil," an ICU nurse wrote in the comments.
"Thanks for giving us a peek into GOOP's dangerous rhetoric," another commenter wrote.
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