On Wednesday afternoon, just as blood sugar levels and reservoirs of patience were hitting their lows for the week, the Instagram page for Gwyneth Paltrow’s ridiculous and bad luxury wellness publication Goop shared a post that instantly—and as planned—riled everyone up. It was purportedly an ad for a new Goop product called The Diapér, described as “a luxury disposable diaper“ that was, the post said, “lined with virgin alpaca wool and fastened with amber gemstones, known for their ancient emotional-cleansing properties,” and “infused with a scent of jasmine and bergamot for a revitalized baby.” This was, as it turned out, a horrendously poorly-timed PR stunt meant to raise awareness about the high taxes imposed on diapers in some states; it mostly just raised awareness of the fact that any absurd Goop product could very well be real.
In most circumstances and from most publications, the idea of a luxury disposable diaper fastened with gemstones would clearly be a joke, but Goop’s hallmark from the start has been hawking expensive, unnecessary, and unscientific products, like the jade and rose quartz vagina eggs that earned it a $145,000 fine from the Orange County District Attorney's office. Besides marketing products with no proven benefits, Goop has also platformed a wide variety of schmucks and hucksters, including a guy who implied he could heal breast cancer with his hands and Kelly Brogan, an anti-vaccine “holistic psychiatrist” and frequent former Goop contributor who’s gone on to become a prominent COVID denier.
After the Instagram post went live and we all busily tweeted about it, Motherboard received an email from a PR company, asserting that the luxury diaper was actually satire and not a real item for the real bottoms of pampered Goop babies. In the press release that the PR company sent to us, unsolicited—and under an embargo that we absolutely did not agree to honor—it was revealed that the diaper ad is actually a PR stunt between Goop and a nonprofit and diaper bank called Baby2Baby, which does the very important work of getting diapers and other essential items to infants and children across the U.S.
“Tomorrow,” said a flack, unprompted, after Motherboard reporters asked skeptical questions, “goop CEO Gwyneth Paltrow will reveal on Instagram that The Diapér is designed to expose the ridiculousness of taxing diapers like a luxury product.”
The stunt was seemingly organized by a creative marketing company called—of all things—Mother LA. The idea is apparently to point out that in 33 states, diapers are taxed at the same high rate as luxury products, something Paltrow also recently discussed on CBS Sunday Morning.
“I never had to think about the cost of diapers, never once, until recently when my team at Goop brought it up,” Paltrow wrote. She surely didn’t.
In the press release, the Baby2Baby CEOs are quoted as saying, "The overwhelming cost of diapers for a family living in poverty forces parents to make impossible choices between diapers and food. Without a sufficient supply, parents are also unable to drop their kids off at daycare, creating a barrier for re-entering the workforce and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.”
The high cost of diapers and other basic necessities is an incredibly important issue, but the timing here is off, coming in the wake of the news that Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned and at a time when severe baby formula shortages are creating the terrifying prospect for some parents that they will be literally unable to feed their children. (In a statement they bizarrely tried to place on background—something we, again, did not agree to and will not honor—a Mother LA spokesperson wrote, in response to direct questions about why it would partner with the often grossly irresponsible Goop and why it would do so at this precise moment in time, that Baby2Baby is doing everything it can to address the formula crisis, “including having formula made to order, buying it from long-term partners at a fraction of the retail cost, and distributing donations from formula companies that were not impacted by the recall.”)
Given Goop’s role in the misinformation ecosystem—and the fact that it does actually sell absurd luxury products like $20 diaper balm, a “Goop University” shirt that costs $125 and that fucking jade egg, which now contains fewer dubious claims about what it does for one’s vagina—the satire here is perhaps less on-target than one might reasonably hope. Like a diaper, nearly everyone involved here seems to be utterly full of shit. You can donate to the National Diaper Bank Network here.