Celebrity, actress, and touted “wellness guru” Gwyneth Paltrow has been active in Hollywood for the past 34 years. Since opening her online storefront, goop, in 2008, the company has cultivated a net worth of 200 million, produced a popular podcast, and created a Netflix documentary. Gwyneth was a very successful actress prior to opening goop, so it’s no surprise that women across the globe flocked in search of all of goop’s offerings.
Throughout the past 15 years, it is apparent that women have adopted these unspoken messages believing that if they buy into these products and read these articles then they too can achieve a holistic, and “healthy” lifestyle just like Gwen. The primary concern with this message is some of the goop’s recommendations promote restrictive dieting, “clean” eating, and excessive exercise. While engaging in health-seeking behaviors is valuable to both physical and mental health, when taken too far, these factors can lead someone to develop a clinically significant eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or a lifelong disordered relationship with food, which can be just as impactful.
Most recently, in March 2023, Gwyneth was interviewed about her wellness routine by Dear Media, a famous millennial podcast company. In the podcast, she described to the audience her daily “wellness schedule.” She shared with users that she eats dinner early in the evening. She stated, “For dinner, I try to do it according to paleo. So, lots of vegetables. It’s important for me to support my detox.” She continues to discuss her intermittent fasting regimen in the mornings, to keep her blood sugar leveled, which includes coffee and soup, more specifically, bone broth, for lunch. Finally, she shares her Pilates workout exercise routine followed by going into the sauna. It's important to note that over 500,000 people on TikTok viewed this video.
There are several problems with Gwyneth sharing her “wellness” routine with the world, including how many people cannot see behavior as harmful. It is possible that some viewers may start to engage in intermittent fasting or detoxing and do not have access to a team of medical or mental health services, dietitians, and fitness professionals who can monitor their levels, whereas someone like Paltrow may have access to those resources. While not every diet leads to an eating disorder, dieting is the first sign of maladaptive eating behaviors. Therefore, it is significant to look at the sociocultural implications of this video of someone with no educational background on this topic disseminating health advice to such a huge platform of people.
It’s an inescapable fact that Western society is image-driven and obsessed with the thin ideal. While body positivity Instagram accounts and Health At Every Size aligned activists have shifted the narrative by posting more untouched bodies and body diversity on several media platforms, this video showcases how disordered eating and diet culture is still present in 2023. It has evolved or been rebranded as “wellness”. This is damaging to young girls or women who struggle with body acceptance. This video may speak to that eating disorder voice that has been curated into them and tricks them into thinking, “Well maybe if I just try this” then I can control my body. Unfortunately, a restrictive relationship with food and exercise does not equate to a well-lived life. It is salient to highlight that there are several websites and TikTok accounts that became outraged, labeling Gwen as an “almond mom.” An almond mom is a mom who pushes toxic dieting – coined from the idea of suggesting their child eat one almond when they feel hungry. One user even wrote in the comments “This is 90s children's trauma in a nutshell, no pun.” This gives way to certain communities in our culture who recognize the disordered elements of the video. However, this voice of challenge is new and only available due to the accessibility of information from professionally trained dietitians, medical doctors, therapists, and fitness instructors.
While in practice specializing in eating disorders, the cross-section between social media and today’s wellness landscape is concerning. It is important to reflect on how these disguised “wellness” videos may impact clients who struggle with body image or have a disordered eating history. It can be a daunting task for therapists to help their clients who are struggling with disordered eating since the voices of those who perpetuate the behavior echo on so many large and varied platforms.
Therapists can start within their own practice by cultivating an open and safe space in the therapy room for clients to bring any internalized messages from social media and process how these impact progress in recovery. Educating clinicians to broach their client’s relationship with social media, specifically, what feelings surface when they engage in apps like TikTok or Instagram, where there is a high prevalence of “wellness” influencers touting “what they eat in a day”. Therapists can help their clients identify the danger of these videos, ways to filter them out of their feeds, and find educated platforms that perpetuate wholeness and balance. Lastly, as clinicians, it is our responsibility to reflect on our own societal beliefs, such as fatphobia, thin privilege, and weight stigma, and challenge the same internalized image-driven messages all people have taken in over the years, as these can be a barrier to a client’s treatment.
Looking for resources?
Contact the National Eating Disorders Association to phone/chat/text
or the Eating Recovery Center
or Dr. Zoe Ross-Nash’s segment on High Heels are Heartbreak
Interested in Intuitive Eating? Check out:
Want to diversify your social media page?
Books and other resources:
Cite This Article
Williams, K. & Ross-Nash, Z. (2023, October). Examining goop by Gwyneth Paltrow through a Disordered Wellness Lens [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.societyforpsychotherapy.org/examining-goop-by-gwyneth-paltrow-through-a-disordered-wellness-lens
How Much is Gwyneth Paltrow Net Worth? (2023). How Much Is Gwyneth Paltrow Net Worth? – MoneyMade. https://moneymade.io/learn/article/gwyneth-paltrow-net-worth
Mole, B. (2022, March 24). Paltrow’s ex-CCO calls Goop wellness culture “toxic” while touting new cleanse. Ars Technica. https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/ex-goop-exec-decries-toxic-wellness-culture-while-promoting-a-cleanse/
O’Kane, C. (2023, March 17). What is an “almond mom”? Gwyneth Paltrow interview draws use of the term on social media. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gwyneth-paltrow-interview-almond-mom-tiktok-wellness-routine-podcast/
Stone, C. (2023). Gwyneth Paltrow gets dragged on TikTok for sharing “bone broth” starvation diet. Motherly. https://www.mother.ly/news/celebrity-news/gwyneth-paltrow-bone-broth-tiktok/
Wittmer, C. (2023, March 15). Gwyneth Paltrow Is Being Called an “Almond Mom” After Describing Her Wellness Routine — See Video. Allure. https://www.allure.com/story/gwyneth-paltrow-wellness-routine-controversy