The Great Distancing
Watch wellness brands and influencers try to remove themselves from now "toxic" ideas.
Last week my phone was blowing up with people eager to share the news: “Did you see? Goop’s second in command is renouncing the brand!”
By that, they meant that Elise Loehnen, the former chief content officer at Goop, had uploaded an Instagram post seemingly severing ties with the wellness company. In a brief video, Loehnen listed all the ways that cleanses ended up fueling a toxic body image and unhealthy eating habits. Forsaking food for glittering juices and their ilk made her more critical of her weight, more “punishing” of her body, and from the sound of it, awfully hungry.
"To me, it had become synonymous with dieting and restriction, and I felt like I was not in a healthy relationship with my body, where I was always trying to punish it [and] bring it under control," Loehnen explained in the video. But more importantly—and what got the press excited—was Loehnen’s apparent damnation of a culture she once helped propel to mainstream heights. For Loehnen didn’t just lambast her previously unhealthy relationship with cleanses, but went so far as to state that “that wellness culture can be toxic.” After leaving the aspirational brand, the executive went into “full rebellion” by eating whatever she pleased.
Oh, did news outlets lap it up. Gwyneth Paltrow's former right-hand woman SLAMS 'toxic wellness culture, declared the DailyMail. Gwyneth Paltrow's Former CCO Elise Loehnen Says Doing Cleanses at Goop 'Distorted' Her Body Image, chimed in People.
Did anyone read ‘til the end of the post?
Because after all that forsaking, Loehnen did a lot more shilling. For yet another detox.
Loehnen signs off on her big announcement by promoting Kroma Wellness’ five-day cleanse. Except, she didn’t call it a cleanse. She did what the wellness industry does all too often: rename things.
Instead of calling it what it is—a restrictive eating plan or diet—Loehnen called it a five-day “reset” of broths, smoothies, and lattes. (Clocking in at $395, mind you.) Granted, she noted that she would no longer be weighing herself and that she’d allow herself “extra veggies” but, well, a duck is a duck is a duck. Call it whatever you want, but it is, at the end of the day, a uniform plan for women to monitor what they intake for a “better, healthier, more vibrant you.”
Meanwhile, guess who is an investor in this supposedly non-cleanse cleanse? Loehnen’s pal and former boss, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Seeing fans congratulate Loehnen and praise her “bravery” saddened me. For all the exhaustion women have with the darker side of this industry, there are still many who lean on the counsel of a woman without any health credentials. She, like many wellness site employees, hails from fashion magazines, not the Mayo Clinic.
I’m not picking on Goop. I know my last post predicted an elite wellness culture on the decline, but to be fair, these tactics are increasingly part and parcel of this sector: companies and influencers distancing themselves from toxic ideas once they are publicly realized. Like all the diet brands that reimagined themselves as “wellness,” now cleanses will reassert themselves as “resets.” And as part of wellness inching towards a more science-based and less problematic reputation, I foresee all kinds of characters trying to exert some kind of damage control. Or, much like fashion magazines echoing the body positivity movement while still upholding thin ideals, wellness diet brands will “call out” issues every so often, then carry on with their eating disorder work. Progress, folks!
“I refuse to punish myself with food, or hold myself under the weight my body seems to want to be anymore,” Loehnen wrote. “I don't have the energy or the interest, thankfully.”
Yeah, neither do we.
News and Trends:
Dyson plans a face purifier: It’s designed to filter out allergens and pollutants (though no word yet on contagions like COVID-19). Air purifiers saw a 57% increase in 2020. (TechCrunch)
Forget beauty. Skincare is now all about health. But what exactly is skin health? An examination. (Beauty Independent)
Sweetgreen plans a drive-thru salad concept: The drive-thru will have an “observation window” so customers can watch their kale Caesar salads being tossed. (Restaurant Business)
SteelSky Ventures raises $72M for its inaugural fund to invest in women’s health: This makes it the world’s largest venture capital fund focused exclusively on improving women’s health. (Femtech Insider)
A bedtime knockout-gas dispenser: If you need something stronger than a sleepy meditation app, I guess you could try … higher levels of CO2? Guys, I think we’ve officially run out of sleep aid ideas. Bottom of the barrel here. (WIRED)
Everlast releases a fitness app: The boxing brand gets in on the tech trend. (Everlast)
Peloton launches a podcast: Peloton’s first, Fitness Flipped, is hosted by instructor Tunde Oyeneyin. “Through themes including stress, habits, body image and self-expression, together we’ll dive deep into questions such as: What does it really mean to be strong?” (Peloton)
Lululemon steps into footwear: The brand’s first running shoe, starting at $148, is called Blissfeel. As NPD reports, Lululemon’s female customers “are very loyal to the brand”: women who bought Lululemon activewear spent 30% of their total activewear purchases there. (NPD Group)
TikTok reportedly censoring period education videos: C’mon guys, we’re in a post-Turning Red world. (Input magazine)
Brightside Health raises $50 million in Series B: The virtual behavioral health startup is the latest company seeing growing investment in mental wellness. (Axios)
How The Sill is using digital features to drive store sales: The subscription houseplant service saw website traffic more than double during the pandemic. It has since expanded to nine retail stores. (Modern Retail)
Beyond Meat bets on plant-based vegan jerky: Made from peas and mung beans, the new product release stems from a partnership between Beyond Meat and PepsiCo. (Greenqueen)
Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods grew 6.2% in 2021: The plant-based market reached an all-time high of $7.4 billion. (Plant Based Foods)
“Peloton for boxing” gets into VR: Liteboxer VR has more than 500 workouts that you can do to on-demand songs pairing punches to beats. That means you can punch away your heartbreak to “Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo. (TechCrunch)
The “world's first ball-dildo”: “It is less of an erotic toy, more of a dadaist interrogation of the very concept of pleasure.” (WIRED)
Gen Z sees right through marketing efforts: Turns out that only 8% of Gen-Zers think brands get them. (Adweek)
The iPhone abstinence movement has failed. Is there a better way to keep kids off smartphones?
The Wait Until 8th pledge asked parents to delay giving kids smartphones until middle school to “let kids be kids a little longer.” It was wildly popular, with tens of thousands of online signatures across the U.S. But then, of course, the pandemic happened. So what now? (The Information)
The great girlbossification of wellness sex toys
This opinion piece argues that the barrage of new sex toy products widely available everywhere from Nordstrom to Nasty Gal isn’t necessarily a bad thing at first glance. (It certainly helps those intimidated by sex toy shops!) But the closer you look, the more you see that the trend isn’t exactly as progressive—or sexy—as it seems. (XTra magazine)
Microdosing for mental health: does it work?
Research is promising, but scientists are split as to whether microdosers are really benefitting—or just experiencing the placebo effect. Some say studies show improvements in mood, attention, and creativity. Other experts express caution, noting that “just because a drug has an impact on the brain doesn’t mean it has any therapeutic value.” (New York Times)
How can we prevent the monopolization of legalized mushrooms?
The psychedelic industry, witnessing increasing investment, is projected to grow to $10 billion by 2027. And some are concerned about how all that money flowing in might affect it all: “Big companies are going to try and monopolize drug therapies with psilocybin and psychedelics, just like Big Pharma has attempted to patent everything in sight, and then spend more time and money being able to manipulate the patents and extend and evergreen them.” (The Nation)