One of the drawbacks with writing these things about outlandish tales from history is smugness. It's far too easy to patronise our ancestors, to guffaw mockingly and go "Ho ho ho, of course we're all so much more enlightened these days, and would NEVER do the sort of silly and brutish things that all those Ancient History-ish types did." So, when I wrote last week's article about the insane way Radium was seized on as some sort of cure 100 years ago, I set myself a challenge. Could I find a comparable example from the modern world of people doing ridiculous stuff for supposed health benefits?
And the answer was yes. Yes I could.
My first stop was Goop. Goop is the company founded by the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who found fame from having her head in a box in "Se7en" and is now trying to stuff even more outlandish items up people's boxes. First of all, here's the Jade eggs, used for vaginal weightlifting.
Yes, that's right. Vaginal weightlifting. Intended to promote vaginal health, positive bodily energies, create a sense of wellbeing and combat "toxins" in the body, it seems. Believe it or not, this is one of the more credible health products Goop offer, because although the "detox" claims are really dubious (can anyone explain what mystical powers tackle toxins through ramming a stone up your mimsy? Anyone?) I can at least buy the bit about creating a sense of wellbeing. If I knew my Lady Garden was a particularly muscular and well-toned one through weightlifting sessions , I'm sure I'd have a sense of wellbeing about it too. So the case isn't quite proved by the vaginal weightlifting.
However then we get the coffee enema system.
Goop advertised these in order to "tackle the toxins associated with modern-day life". Here's a pro tip- if you ever hear anyone banging on about the "toxins" intended to be tackled by enemas or diets, just remind them that a toxin is a poison and ask them to define, in chemical terms, what these toxins are. Then you get to watch them really squirm, and frantically try to change the subject- because it's bullshit. There are no "toxins" in your gut that need enemas or detox diets, and anyone claiming there are is either wildly deluded or trying to sell you something. Speaking of which, here's Gwyneth Paltrow suggesting you spend $135 to fire cappuchino straight up your brass eye.
In terms of genuinely psychedelic lunacy, a mug of latte up the bumhole takes some beating, but our Gwyneth is a pro at this sort of thing. The crowning glory of their suggestions is vaginal steaming.
I’ll just allow my readers to regain some degree of composure here, so while we’re waiting for you all to stop hyperventilating here’s a picture of an owl.
Right. Vaginal steaming. I know, I know. It really is what you think it is. It involves sitting in an open-seated throne (a modified commode, effectively), presenting one's foofoo over a steamer, and then stewing away merrily. Obviously, with this being Goop, it's no ordinary steam- it's a wonderful magical blend of healing and nurturing herbs designed to transform even the most toxic nethers into a shiny and well-nourished Wondertwat. Apparently mugwort features heavily in these steaming recipes, which confused the hell out of me. I thought mugwort was a Harry Potter character.
So any suggestion that we've all grown up and moved on as a species looks pretty flimsy to me. We remain desperately insecure about our rude bits and are still gullible enough to be taken in by charlatans, quacks and snake oil salesmen who promise to make them all lovely and fragrant. Celebrate this slightly gloomy conclusion by sharing any other ludicrous "wellbeing" items you've encountered below.