The Munchausen's by proxy [derogatory] of women's wellness startups

A woman who smashed a firefighter test record, Kim photoshopping her traps, and the specific struggle of not looking like you lift. This is Link Letter 53!

The Munchausen's by proxy [derogatory] of women's wellness startups
Inventing two additional menstrual phases from whole cloth for profit and, uh... profit

So: A flock of gargoyles that calls itself Evie Magazine is taking Thielbucks to make a “femtech company.” Anna Merlan’s piece for VICE on the company and the publication behind it are very thorough, so I won’t rehash all of it here. Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the tragically trad publication behind this is profoundly transphobic and thinks COVID isn’t real, that Peter Thiel is just a rich dummy, and that the “natural family planning” it’s pushing as part of its “wellness startup” is essentially a hoax that is just going to result in a lot of pregnant women [1]. What we are here to deal with is its assertion that women need special workouts and diets arranged around their period to “balance their hormones.” Oh, honey; bless your heart. No.

Read: A simple guide to periods, birth control, and strength training [paid]>>>

As Claire Zai of Barbell Medicine points out, the one thing that research on periods resoundingly shows is that the experience of period-havers is so diverse that it’s not possible to treat them as an isolated group. Not when it comes to birth control, not when it comes to pain management, not when it comes to hormones, and especially not when it comes to diet or exercise. Generally, exercising and eating a balanced diet help with most things about being a human alive on earth, because it is what bodies are designed for. In exercise especially, it is good to learn to pay attention to how your body feels and plan your day accordingly. Exercise does affect your hormones, but ones you’ve already heard of in ways you already know about: dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, cortisol.

Read: The art, science, theory, and practice of perceiving yourself>>>

But the idea that “women shouldn’t work out like men,” as Evie Magazine dimwittedly asserts, or that you need to superstitiously arrange entirely different types of activity around a menstrual cycle, or more to the point, require a specific product or service from some “femtech” company to manage this, is not represented anywhere in science. It is one of those plausible-sounding but one hundred percent made-up things that keep the sad little artfully arranged Edison bulbs on at GOOP, Rae, Moon Juice, and the rest.

The appeal to specialness as a marketing tactic is a disempowering distraction to keep us nursing imagined little hangups and shortcomings. It amounts to Munchausen’s by proxy, the way that “founders” are out there building billion-dollar empires around making women believe they are sick and that they need to buy their own cure.

Are women having a tough time out there? Yes, of course; everyone hates us, including other women (especially the ones who found these companies and then pose for magazine profiles in J. Jill-ass clothes and a blunt bob on a coastal linen sofa and shake their head sadly and woundedly about the accusations of fraud-lite against them, asserting that they are just trying to “help women”). But little mason jars of jewel-tone gummy vitamins or jade eggs or luteal-phase “gentle” workouts aren’t it; they are just shameless, greedy plays to redirect that need to feel seen and heard into “buying shit.”


~Discord Pick of the Week: Lovely piece from Martha Bayne on reconciling the strength we know ourselves to be capable of with more fallow periods (in her case, dealing with chemotherapy). Strength is so often not about relentless upward progress, but meeting yourself where you are.~

The LA Rams have a secret weapon: not grinding their athletes into the ground and treating them like single-use plastic yogurt containers. Imagine!

Five out of five WOOOOOOOs: Meet the woman who smashed a St. Paul Fire Department physical test record.

A surprising barn-burner from Men’s Health: Carbs aren’t the enemy of weight loss.

The specific struggle of not looking like you lift.

How alcohol became uncool. (Short answer: we’ve weed.)

An incomplete taxonomy of air conditioning. Gym air conditioning should be its own category here, and it is most closely represented by “The air-conditioner in the window at a house-party.”

We are not bad at taking vacations; employers are bad at offering and encouraging vacations.

The White House is beginning a nutrition initiative, which includes tenets like “food is medicine” and asks Congress to expand Medicare/Medicaid access to nutrition therapy and assistance, cooking classes, and telehealth support for diabetes. Glad to see them waking up from that two-year nap!

Who is Beer Girl at the US Open?


Kim Kardashian photoshopped her traps (the muscles on top of your shoulders that connect to your neck) out of a photo last week and did a bad job. But this is nothing new for Kim; I’ve noticed over the years that she simply loves to remove her traps from photos. She does it all of the time, to the point that I believe she would surgically remove them if they weren’t literally keeping her head on her shoulders. I had to go dig up the Kim-photoshopping-her-traps moment above that boggled my mind as a newish lifter all the way back in 2018, above. I take specific exception to this, because it is no secret that I love a powerful trap.

Khloe Kardashian’s butt workout is jokes; it’s all quad movements! What’s crazy is that Melissa Alcantara, a trainer who works with Kim K sometimes, has an actual useful video for butt accessories (which are not the main course of your workout meal! and are not why Kim’s butt is!) and it has all of 13K views on YouTube.

I love a martini and oysters but ladies… this is not a meal. This is barely even a snack.

Gymshark’s “lifting face” ad campaign… the right idea, I guess, but these remind of Dreamworks faces.


I followed this rabbit hole of “Did the internet ruin culture?” all the way down through all the linkbacks and enjoyed it. My really short take is that the internet created a different “taste” problem. Was it better to have, for instance, popular music charts dictated by a few extremely profit-hungry white guys? Probably not. But I’m not sure it’s better to have everyone living their lives in TikTok/YouTube voice and cadence, either.

The summer everyone saw sharks.

Being that we are moving, I’ve fallen deep into interior design YouTube, specifically Paige Wassell, Caroline Winkler, Nick Lewis (they have some of their own recs too that are great). A fun well if you, like me, know barely anything about this stuff and aspire to have a home you can bear to perceive.

That’s all for this week! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—

  1. A glossy startup might convince you natural family planning is the latest thing, but only a statistical error of women actually use it. Those who do have done so for a long time, mostly because their religion or other familial circumstances prevents them from using actual, reliable birth control methods. If this shit really worked, birth control would never have been invented.