Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has partnered with not-for-profit organization Baby2Baby to shine a light on the fact that in over half of US states, diapers are taxed at the same rate as luxury goods, rather than being treated as essential items like medicine or groceries.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company Goop wants consumers to know that in 33 states in the US, diapers aren’t classified as an essential item and are therefore taxed at the same rate as luxury goods. As a result, many families struggle to afford diapers for their children.
To generate awareness of the economic barriers to diaper access in the US, Goop has teamed up with Baby2Baby, a not-for-profit organization focused on providing care products such as diapers and clothing to underserved children in Los Angeles and in disaster-affected regions.
To spotlight the unnecessary taxation (which in many states is also applied to hygiene products like tampons and pads), the two organizations today launched a spoof luxury diaper, dubbed ‘The Diapér.’ An indulgent spin on the classic nappy, The Diapér is a disposable diaper lined with virgin alpaca wool, encrusted with amber gemstones – included for their emotional cleansing properties – and infused with scents of bergamot and jasmine. A 12-pack of the faux product retails for $120 – the cost that families could incur annually from buying diapers that are subject to a non-essential item tax.
Goop debuted the spoof campaign in an Instagram post yesterday featuring a stylized image of the new Diapér surrounded by luxurious flora. Fans chimed in with eye-rolling and disbelief. “Omg [...] fancy moms need to be even fancier and out of touch!” wrote one user. Most rightly predicted that The Diapér must be a joke, with many sharing comments like this one: “Is it April Fool’s Day?” Some users, however, implied they wouldn’t be completely shocked if it was a real product. “Got to be a joke. Although you never know with Goop,” said one. For many, the launch may not have seemed completely out of the question in light of some of the company’s previous maneuvers. It’s hard to forget the controversy it stirred when it began selling pricey jade eggs that it asserted could offer a range of health ‘benefits’ – from menstrual regulation to bladder control – when inserted in the vagina (in light of these unsubstantiated claims, Goop agreed to pay a $145,000 settlement fee to California’s consumer protection agency in 2018). Today, however, Paltrow took to social media to reveal its Diapér stunt as a call-to-action for increasing economic access to essential childcare items.
Paltrow has been trying to raise awareness of the issue. Earlier this week, the actress spoke about the diaper tax in a Mother’s Day segment for CBS News. “I never had to think about the cost of diapers, never once, until recently when my team at Goop brought it up,” she said. “Depending on the state, [the non-essential item] sales tax can add between 1.5 and 7% to their cost. This makes diapers the fourth highest household expense for many low-income families.”
According to Baby2Baby co-chief execs Norah Weinstein and Kelly Sawyer Patricof, diaper access disparities have only widened during the pandemic. “Over the last decade, we have seen families living in poverty forced to make impossible choices between buying diapers and food for their children, and this devastating need has only been exacerbated over the last two years due to Covid,” they explain.
And the issue of diaper access and unmet need during the pandemic has had a range of negative impacts on babies’ health and wellbeing. A scientific study published in February in the journal Health Equity found that diaper need during Covid was correlated with chronic illness, food insecurity and poverty. The results also corroborated earlier research suggesting that about one in three US families with young children experience diaper need.
“While our mission is to provide vulnerable families with the essentials they need, we also advocate for necessary changes that will make a critical impact on their lives. Diapers are not a luxury item and shouldn’t be treated like one,” the co-chief executives say. “Our partnership with Goop is intended to shed light on diaper need by equating [a diaper to] a luxury item – when any parent knows they are a necessity in every way.”
The Diapér campaign was developed in partnership with independent creative firm Mother LA. The agency’s head of strategy Amaris Singer explains that although the project ran on a “tight” timeline and budget, the team was able to remain “collaborative and nimble” throughout the creative process. “Our shared passion for the cause animated the whole process and we empowered the team as much as possible from the start to make it their own.”
The news comes amid a national baby formula shortage that has many worried for the wellbeing of children and families.