Gwyneth Paltrow and the Fear-Based Women’s Media


In my column last week about books women should read, I mention the book Spin Sisters by Myrna Blyth. Spin Sisters gives readers an insider’s view (similar to Bernie Goldberg, author of the liberal media exposé Bias) of the “members of the female media elite, a Girls’ Club of editors, producers, print and television journalists with similar attitudes and opinions who influence the way millions of American women think and feel about their lives, their world, and themselves.” Blyth doesn’t mince words and places blame squarely on the women at the top.

Not surprisingly, the growing online media market for women is using the same tactics traditional media does: fear. Before there was online “click bait,” women’s magazines used the fear factor to grab women’s attention. A couple examples:

  • “The Poison That Hid in Our Home” (Redbook)
  • Mattresses akin to kerosene (Good Morning America)
  • “5 Down-There Diseases You Don’t Know About” (Glamour)
  • “Dangers Lurking in Your Water Bottle” (KIFI, Wyoming)

For years I’ve written about mommy bloggers’ obsession with BPA, the danger du jour perpetuated by the hysterical, click-seeking women’s media. It involves the level of BPA found in water bottles, canned foods, and even thermal cash-register tape.  Popular celebrity bloggers like Gwyneth Paltrow and the “Food Babe” have hyped several inherently flawed studies that blame everything from breast cancer to diabetes on BPA.  Unfortunately for the fear-based online media, last week a new study came out that Paltrow, the Food Babe and other wannabe health bloggers can’t be too thrilled about – “GMO Crops Don’t Harm Human Health, Report Says.”

Shockingly, more and more evidence is coming out about celebrity and mommy bloggers being wrong. Perhaps Breitbart readers don’t take them seriously, but millions of women do. Recently, Think Progress (yes, you read that right) questioned Gwyneth Paltrow’s scientific prowess. They interviewed Timothy Caulfield, author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash, about the celebrity pseudoscience culture. From the interview:

One of the things that infuriates me is this idea that we shouldn’t want to eat food that has ingredients we can’t pronounce or spell. Have you seen that old Breyers commercial, with the little kids trying to read what’s in their ice cream? And the idea is Breyers is better because of how simple the words are. Like the only thing you should ever consume is a thing a child can read.

It goes to the chemical fallacy that we shouldn’t eat any chemicals at all. Little do they know that they live in a universe made up of chemicals. That is one of those ploys that plays to our intuition. If you look up the chemicals that make up an apple, it can sound pretty scary. There’s so many myths that people can leverage. They’ll find a substance that is cancer-causing in huge doses and then say you shouldn’t be consuming any of it, ever.

I find the Honest Jessica Alba thing very frustrating: It’s built of guilt, fear, and pseudoscience. I’ve seen quotes associated with her in which she claims autism and ADHD and childhood cancers are caused by all toxins that exist in this world, toxins that her products don’t have. But now she’s being sued, so.

Paltrow’s media profile brings together both the fear factor and one other aspect that thrives in women’s online media: the myth of Pinterest perfection. Every day millions of women log into Pinterest and see perfectly organized laundry rooms, mudrooms, and DIY projects that require more patience than paint. Last week, one popular blogger decided she had enough. From Motto:

Josi Denise became a “mommy blogger” in 2013, building up her American Mama blog until it reached “tens of thousands” of monthly readers, generating the mother of three “thousands of dollars” in some months.

But the blog came to an abrupt end late last week, when Denise had a crisis of conscience and quit.

In a splenetic rant on her new namesake blog (which is worth reading in full), Denise said much of the content posted to her mommy blog — and countless like it online — was garbage. She has deleted many of those posts, she said, “Because, like 90% of the fake nonsense I used to share on the internet as a mommy blogger writing about my fake life and oh-so-happy marriage, they are pure b——t.”

The quest for the perfectly organized life is what suckers in millions of readers. Next thing you know they’re taking science and political lessons from women who don’t know much about either. The solution isn’t to dismiss their huge audience, but to engage that audience. Let the left continue to treat women like one-dimensional insta-victims. Conservatives and libertarians need to offer an alternative women’s media that encompasses lifestyle, pop culture, AND political news. That’s just what I did.


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