This week, Goop’s former chief content officer Elise Loehnen took to Instagram to speak out about cleansing culture. Loehnen, who worked at the company for seven years before stepping down in 2020, said in a video that when she left her job at Goop, she decided to “forswear all cleansing.” She explained, “To me, it had become synonymous with dieting and restriction, and I felt like I was not in a healthy relationship with my body. I was always trying to punish it, bring it under control.”
A major part of Goop’s business model involves offering dieting advice under the guise of “wellness,” with the brand frequently touting detoxifying cleanses purported to rid your body of unspecified negative buildup. In addition to posts outlining exactly what to eat for each meal, Goop also sells a handful of detox kits on its site, including its own seven-day “reset kit.”
In her post, Loehnen wrote that after she left Goop, she “needed to break a tendency to be critical and punishing” when it came to food. She says she went into “full rebellion,” which she described as “kind of fun and definitely healthy in terms of letting go of ideas of what my body should look like as a 42-year-old who has had two kids.”
As the second person founder Gwyneth Paltrow hired, Loehnen was a foundational member of the Goop empire: She joined as editorial director in 2014 before graduating to chief content officer in 2017. In October 2020, when Loehnen stepped down from her position to write a book, Paltrow said she was “like a sister” and that “without her, Goop in this iteration wouldn’t exist.”
While there’s no scientific evidence to support the benefits of detoxing, Goop’s employees partake in the many cleanses endorsed by the brand. According to the brand’s website, the entire team does Dr. Alejandro Junger’s five-day “elimination diet,” which consists of one solid meal a day, consumed alongside a collection of supplements, teas, and premixed shake powders, every year.
Despite noting that “wellness culture can be toxic,” it sounds like Loehnen hasn’t sworn off cleanses entirely: She noted that she recently had a much better experience with the Kroma cleanse, in part because she says she didn’t weigh herself and took a less restrictive approach. (While Kroma isn’t for sale on Goop’s website, Paltrow appears to be one of its celebrity investors.)
Loehnen didn’t explicitly blame Goop for promoting an unhealthy relationship to food, but she marked her departure from the brand as the moment she started changing her habits. “I’m trying to get to a place where I can again be in conversation with my body,” she said, adding that “those conversations had become distorted.”