June 18, 2024


Super Art is Almost

Why three Pittsburghers founded The Glowt, a parody site mocking celebrity lifestyle brands | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Screencaps from theglowt.com

Screencaps from theglowt.com

If you’re a reader of the lifestyle website Goop, you might follow their recommendations for “7 Ways to Renew Your WFH Space,” including buying an $800 countertop herb garden and a $345 coffee maker for those who have shifted to working from home. These kinds of lofty recommendations are part of the reason why three Pittsburgh women took their quarantine downtime to start The Glowt, a parody website that mocks the absurdity of lifestyle brands and wellness culture.

Pronounced like “gloat,” the website looks and acts like a Goop-style site in the spirit of other parody sites like The Onion or Reductress. Founders Emily Wentworth, Tegan Silva, and Jennifer Bouslog created the site when the pandemic hit because they wanted somewhere to channel their quarantine boredom. They launched The Glowt on Election Day in November 2020, figuring that plenty of people would be glued to their phones, doomscrolling, and could break up the news with a laugh.

While politics are divisive, Silva says that it was strangely nice to see that readers on both sides of the political spectrum could find common ground in laughing at the lifestyle tips and tricks of the rich and famous.

“We just shared it to all of our friends and family regardless of their political leanings. We got a lot of good responses, which was really encouraging to hear,” she says. “It’s nice to see that people from both sides were willing to loathe rich, stupid people like this. Hopefully we can see this as a unifier in some way. Not to be cheesy but humor usually is.”

The design of The Glowt has the minimalist glossiness of a site like Goop, with stories broken down into sections like wellness, relationships, fashion, and beauty. Headlines ridicule lifestyle advice (“I Tried Minimalism and Now I Need to Borrow Your Toothbrush”), deranged food trends (“I Tried a Coffee Enema and Now I’m Haunting This Gas Station Restroom for Eternity”), and dubious wellness advice (“How I Learned About Portion Control After Watching This Obese Squirrel At The Park.”)

Some of these hit a little too on the nose — after they wrote the article about coffee enemas (injecting coffee into the butthole), The Glowt team saw that Goop included the method in a “detox guide.”

While Goop was one of the first lifestyle sites of its kind — founded by celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow, hawking expensive nonsense — it’s just one of many in the genre. Poosh, a lifestyle site founded by Kourtney Kardashian, offers gluten-free recipes and articles on “simple ways to be happy.” Before she married a prince, Meghan Markle ran a (now-defunct) lifestyle site called The Tig. But it’s not just celebrities with blogs, it’s the entire influencer industrial complex — including and especially on Instagram — that promotes an unhealthy way of living, full of sponsored content for detox teas and haircare gummy vitamins.

“I’m personally not on Instagram, but the reason I’m not is just because it’s so toxic,” says Wentworth. “There’s this weird, strange thing happening where there’s this supposed body acceptance, but then you also need to be improving yourself. It’s just kind of the same thing like growing up in the ’90s where you had to be super skinny, it’s just wrapped up in a different package.”

click to enlarge Screencaps from theglowt.com

Screencaps from theglowt.com

In order to get the full effect of a lifestyle site, The Glowt team created “Diedre Sabazios,” a fictional socialite who runs the site. Diedre is the daughter of an arms dealer who went to boarding school in Italy and was once married to Mickey Rourke. In her “about me” section, Diedre says that when founding The Glowt, she “recruited only the best and brightest wellness authors who in some way owe me a debt.” For creating Diedre, Silva says they took inspiration from figures like Paltrow, but also Schitt’s Creek character Alexis Rose, known for randomly spouting off stories about her elite globetrotting.

Currently, every article on the site is written by Wentworth, Silva, and Bouslog, but the hope is to one day be able to expand the project to include contributors, as well as video content and podcasts.

For now, the three founders will keep plugging along. Of course, they always have the help of Deirdre’s numerous unpaid interns.