please love yourself for free

Yesterday whimsical lifestyle blogger Gala Darling announced her new “Radical Self-Love Bootcamp,” a 30-day online program she is spearheading to teach her readers how to love themselves the way she does.

It costs $100.

Presale.

For the cost (which she helpfully breaks down for you to a mere $3.00 a day!), Gala promises she’s going to “tell you exactly what to do” (her emphasis, not mine) to help you fall “truly, madly, deeply” in love with yourself.

This is truly, madly, deeply fucking offensive to me for a few reasons.  The first reason is that this whole program banks on the idea that any one person’s happiness and “self-love” is the same or even remotely similar to anyone else’s.  Your happiness and self-love does not come from the same place that Gala Darling’s does (and not just because she’s about to rake in thousands of dollars on this crap), therefore the concept that she or anyone can tell you “exactly what to do” to get there is bogus.  Guidelines and information and advice are one thing.  A step-by-step instruction book to Gala’s Rainbows-And-Cupcakes Version of Happiness is entirely another.  I don’t think this girl’s head is entirely full of fluff and glitter — she’s clearly built quite the empire on her unique personality — but I do think she’s been blinded by years of adulation from her fans into thinking that she is somehow some kind of authority on happiness and self-love.

That is the second reason why this is offensive to me.  If you are giving your hard-earned money to someone who claims they can help you break a cycle of self-loathing or even simply get to know yourself better, you should be giving that money to a professional.  There are people who have gone to school for this kind of thing for many years, and these people know how to deal with every person’s individual issues on a personal level.  They may not have cotton-candy-colored hair or adorable graphics to sway you aesthetically, but their advice and input will be much more valid.

As a person who’s struggled for much of my life with my own happiness — and in spite of my ongoing issues with depression and anxiety — I can confidently say that I know what it has taken for me to learn to love myself, personally.  I can give other people advice on how they can get to the same place in their lives.  But I would never deign to tell you that I know “exactly what to do” to get you from the black cloud to the silver lining, and I would certainly never charge you money for it.  I am not a professional.  I do not have all the answers.  Neither is Gala Darling and neither does she.

So I’m pretty deeply fucking offended that someone who has, essentially, the same credentials as me — marginal writing talent, a domain name, and a vested interest in personal happiness (albeit Gala has a few thousand more readers and a few thousand more dollars in the bank) — would deign to think that she could give me advice on how to better my life.  And that she would ask me to pay her for it.  Gala, you don’t know me.  You don’t know what I have gone through.  You don’t know about the experiences and issues and relationships that have made me the person that I am and that have contributed to my own feelings of self-doubt.  And you do not know those things about the vast majority of the readers that will sign up for your program and pay you $100 for the privilege of being told “exactly what to do” by someone who does not know exactly what to do.

Comments are not allowed on Gala’s blog, which means only positive feedback ever reaches her readers (and which also points to a slew of personal issues with criticism that she might want to work on before she starts touting herself as a self-love guru, as being entirely accepting of oneself is not the same as hiding from your shortcomings, but that’s another catty story).  I am absolutely certain that some people have found their lives greatly improved by using Gala’s methods, and I’m thrilled for Gala herself that she’s found such joy in her own life.  But the idea that she thinks she has some be-all, end-all key to happiness — and that she is going to charge her loyal readers for said key — is ridiculous and offensive and frankly leads me to believe she has very little understanding of serious mental health issues that can crush people with the self-doubt she’s claiming she can spirit away in thirty days.

See, while this kind of “program” might do well for people who’re already generally satisfied with their lives and are just looking for a little extra self-help, it marginalizes and invalidates people dealing with serious mental health issues.  Gala’s 30-day “bootcamp” that promises to teach you to love yourself is the sparkly internet equivalent of people telling you to “just get over it,” to “work on yourself,” to “focus on the positive” and that things will somehow magically get better.  This kind of attitude isn’t only offensive to people who are suffering from depression and other mental issues, it can be crippling.  What if the 30-day program doesn’t work?  Then what?  Then you not only still don’t love yourself, but you’re out a hundred hard-earned bucks and you have the added feeling of having been hoodwinked by an internet persona, which certainly isn’t going to help any lingering feelings of internal doubt.

Which brings me to another reason why I find this so appalling: after spending a little time on Gala’s site, even the most confident girl can find herself devolving into a sneaky spiral of self-loathing.  Who wouldn’t be blissfully happy and truly, madly, deeply in love with herself if she had Gala Darling’s life?  A fabulous New York apartment, a wardrobe full of lovely frothy dresses and designer shoes, a collection of quirky high-profile friends, invitations to runway shows and designer presentations, and, oh yeah, a dream job where she gets to blog about bullshit and charge people for it.  Gala’s readership is made up of young women who dream of having her lifestyle, and she presents it as some kind of idyllic wonderland we could all be living in if we just thought positively and followed her rules.  It’s enough to make normal, average people leading normal, average lives think they must not be loving themselves the “right” way, which leads them to throw money at Gala in the hopes that they can somehow buy some of her luck and sparkle.

But you have to make your own luck and be your own sparkle (was that entirely too Gala-ish of me?).  And maybe Gala’s program will help some people do that.  But ultimately it seems like kind of a scam — not that I think Gala’s willingly scamming anyone.  I think that her “bootcamp” worked for her (although right in her introductory paragraph she says it’s a journey she’s been on since 2006 — how more than five years of growth can be compressed into 30 days, I’m not sure), and I think her rose-colored glasses have rendered her a bit short-sighted, and not a little greedy.

Here are the things Gala promises to do in her Radical Self-Love Bootcamp (screencapped from her site):


Honestly, I wish I had an extra hundred bucks laying around so I could find out exactly what kind of advice she’s doling out.  Instead, I’m going to look at these guidelines from an outsider’s perspective, and over the next few weeks, I’m going to attempt to write about each of them in relation to my own journey of self-discovery, confidence, and personal growth.  I can’t say that my own experiences and thoughts on this stuff will absolutely help anyone else in their own quest, but at least I’m not charging for it.

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102 responses to “please love yourself for free

  1. Ugh. 160 people have ‘liked’ that post on Facebook. That’s $16,000.00. (!!!)

  2. You hit the nail right smack on the head with this post – I join you in your outrage. Her concept is pretty gross and negligible I think.

  3. I like her blog and her positive outlook, but I agree that you could get that stuff for free. This may be a little cheesy and hippieish for some, but I really like this book called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain that I think has a similar message. It’s just not as covered in leopard print and hot pink as Gala. Tee hee!

    http://thoreausdaughter.blogspot.com/

  4. this is bullshit. can you please make a facebook page against it and spread the word? this is seriously ridiculous and this girl is delusional.

  5. I feel like Gala’s “Radical Self Love forum” (that you need to pay $100 to get access to) sounds rather similar to how you used to be able to comment on her blog and have discussions with other readers…. for free. I’m actually kind of curious if this was a long-term plan thing and that’s part of the reason why she got rid of commenting on her blog.

    • Exactly! Same with her podcasts, etc. — all of that stuff, I feel, is the stuff she used to offer on her blog as part of her daily content (and it’s not like she doesn’t get paid for that, either — her ad revenue is, I’m sure, more than enough to compensate her for all the work she puts into her blog). It’s so alienating to be asked to pay money for the same things you used to be able to get for free, and that you can easily find for free elsewhere on the web and in real life.

  6. I really admire the strength you have to talk about your experiences with “black clouds,” and particularly to talk positively about professional influence. I am struggling with depression and have never had the guts to talk to a pro about it. I’m still working on it, but I find the things you have to say inspiring.
    Also, your blog is plain adorable and I love it. Please keep it up.

    • Kim, if you ever want to talk privately about this stuff, please feel free to email me (mycartoonheart@gmail.com); I’m happy to share my experiences with you. Getting help for my depression was a huge issue for me and it took me a long time to get to the point where I was even able to start seeking help. It’s still a daily struggle but now I feel much less alone. Good luck to you, and thank you for your kind words! ❤

  7. 1) How fucked up is it that she is commodifying other people’s happiness. This shit just further reinforces my Marxist beliefs.
    2)I’m so glad she broke down that math for me. Math is hard. -__-

  8. You are such a refreshing addition to the blogosphere. Thanks for being an independent thinker and not being shy about it.

  9. echoing RD! yewww this entry made me happy

  10. Thank you for writing this, I used to read Gala Darling’s site years ago but gave up as she got more and more ridiculous. Now any time I come across her site it just annoys and angers me.

    I look forward to reading your posts on the subject, it sounds like a great project.

  11. I like Gala’s blog and her positive outlook, but I can see your point. If readers want to get the same message at a much cheaper price, I like the book, Creative Visaulization by Shakti Gawain. The ideas on Gala’s blog seem identical to the ones in the book, but the book discourages greed and superficiality, which is where this might be going wrong.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Hil! I used to love Gala (she was actually part of what inspired me to start WR2BAM back in the day) but for the past couple of years I’ve felt like it’s hard to relate to her, which was what I used to like about her.

  12. amen! I follow Gala and do like her blog but always wonder how she’s charging people to listen to her talk – she also has those podcasts that cost more than I would even pay for a magazine. thanks for writing so eloquently about something that needed to be said.

    • I used to love Gala, and I commend her for making herself so marketable, but I’m with you, all the “added content” she’s charging readers for seem a little excessive, and I think a lot of the girls who pay her for these things are young and impressionable and really look up to her; it just feels a little shady to me to be making money hand over fist on other peoples’ happiness. Leave that to the pharmaceutical companies, you know?

  13. girl i agree with you so hard. also i really had issues with her commenting policy anyway. one time she wrote about gay marriage and said how great it was that you could get married in CT, IA, MA, and CA, and it was like…a year after they repealed Prop 8, so I made a comment saying that 1) they had repealed Prop 8 a year ago and 2) it’s not that great that you can only get married in 4 out of the 50 states, and that was hardly progressive in my opinion. i said it nicely! several people agreed with my comment, and like 2 hours later they were all deleted. clearly she needs to work on her own radical self love issues. also if i had to see a professional, i would personally have to pay less than $100 for the actual help i needed, so that part just makes me laugh too. and yet, i keep reading her blog?

    • I agree — $100 will get me three sessions with my psychiatrist and a month’s worth of Sertraline, which I think is a much better investment in my personal well-being.

      I used to really enjoy Gala’s blog and particularly the lively discussions in her comment section. When she disabled comments I realized she was no longer the girl I had been enamored with. All her success is amazing and to be lauded, but I feel she lost sight of some of her values in the whirlwind of becoming an internet sensation, and I think it’s too bad for the people who used to relate to her.

  14. I’ve been reading Galas blog for years and it’s just getting too obvious that she’s in her own world now. I used to love her different look and opinions on life (same with keiko lynn, tavi and a few other bloggers) but now they’re basically cookie cutters of each other, thanks to coach/betsey johnson/MAC makeup throwing free designer swag at them daily. They used to be easily relatable with mixing TJ mAXX/forever 21/vintage pieces but now they’re so out of reach to the average person. They’ve turned into internet socialite girls, making 80G+ a year just for blogging their lives.

    I’ve been reading WR2BAM since it was nearly started and I just wanted to say I love the changes on cartoon heart, it’s such a refreshing thing to read things that are appealing and interesting and not just revolving around designer goods.

    • thisssssss. here’s a fantastic quick article on this phenomenon: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/on-the-un-democracy-of-fashion-blogging/

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so appreciative of my readers that have stuck around over the past few years in spite of the fact that my site has never really grown much. Maybe that’s why people have stuck around, actually!

      • I agree SO MUCH. She is completely out of touch with reality, and even worse, she obviously has no idea the deep, deep issues that go along with true self-hate. I have been getting “real” help for over a year now and am just beginning to accept myself. People who really need help are going to pay $100 just to read a compilation of advice you can already find FOR FREE all over the internet, with a couple sparkly hearts thrown in. Unfortunately, a strong mind-set & willpower will NOT help you overcome true clinical depression and self-destructive thoughts. she better have one hell of a disclaimer.
        This is also my problem with “fashion” blogs and why I stopped trying to have my own blog. These days, it’s all about self-promotion, having a great camera, looking cutesy/weird, and having the best sponsors. It’s not real life. It’s irresponsible for a “style” blogger to try and tell everyone how to be happy, just because she is happy getting free shit everyday.
        And yes you are right as to why your readers stick around! You keep it real, for lack of a better phrase…ha.

  15. This is total bullshit and it’s sad that some people won’t see it as such. I never trust anyone who claims to have all the answers to my woes. Programs like Gala’s are just the new cure-all elixirs that used to be sold off of the back of stagecoaches in the 1800s.
    ♥ mab

  16. You’re totally right: This bootcamp might be fabulous for those dealing with general dissatisfaction and inspirational drain. But it’s less likely to help those dealing with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and some more serious issues that could be conflated with flagging self-love.

    Blogging has spawned a generation of self-made experts, and I’m sure as hell one of them so I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole phenomenon. But cultivating and claiming expertise in style, cooking, or home decor is one thing, declaring that you can teach absolutely anyone how to love herself/himself is quite another. And there’s a huge difference between offering advice from personal experience, and charging people for a boilerplate self-help guide and promising it’ll make their dreams come true.

    • I know what you mean about having mixed feelings about it; as a blogger myself of course I’d love to have just a taste of Gala’s success, but I hope if I were ever to attain that level of acclaim that I’d still be able to maintain my grip on reality. Thanks for your comments.

  17. That’s some Sex & the City shit. Anyone who wants to be spoken to in “Darling”s, “Girl!”s, and “Sweetie”s can spend their $100 on that tripe. They’ll never be happy.

  18. I have never been so disgusted in anything she has done before I saw this.
    $100 for her to pass on happiness and self esteem to other girls. Smells like selling snake oil to me.

    Also did you see the ‘affiliate programme’ where you TOO CAN MAKE MONEY? I’m pretty sure those things are darn on illegal in this country (the U.K).

    Buy any self help book on amazon and you’ll be spending closer to $10 usually written by people who have qualifications and have studied in at least some field for many years. Not just in shopping and knowing how to live off boyfriends.

  19. Also I have my own theory about her turning off comments: the tides were turning and it didn’t look to favorable to the good old advertisers right?
    I’ve never seen anything less than a whole group of articulate women who used to take the time to write on her blog. Eventually it seems the advertisers buying into her own self yelping won out.

    • I agree that the mounting criticism is the reason she turned off comments, and I think that speaks volumes about this whole situation. Thanks for your comments.

  20. If you think about it, $100 _is_ a bargain, when you consider how expensive that “Eat, Pray, Love” woman’s journey of eating, fucking, and condescending-to-brown-people her way to happiness and self-esteem must have been. (I mean, how expensive it would have been had she not been funded by her book advance.) Apparently women are dropping thousands of dollars–and their lives, careers, partners, etc–to reenact the “Eat, Pray, Love” experience, thinking it will magically make them happier, sexier, more successful, or some asinine bullshit. In reality, it’s making the vast majority of them poor and disillusioned. That book should be called “Eat, PREY, Love”–the self-love industry is truly predatory. I blame Oprah.

    • When you put it that way it does seem like a screamin’ deal. Gala and that Eat Pray Love woman could probably sit down and have a roundtable and self love through cultural appropriation.

  21. Absolutely agree with everything here, Sara. GalaDarling has become all about getting money from her readers in shameful ways.

  22. http://definatalie.tumblr.com/post/645180047/when-is-gala-darling-going-to-quit-with-the-racist

    girl you’re not the only, i saw all the level headed bloggers band together! her bs love camp is just the tip of the iceberg of her nonsense.

    • Thank you for the link! I admit I’m not as connected to the rest of the blogosphere as I probably ought to be, so I’m glad to know that other people are outraged by this as well.

  23. You don’t think Gala Darling is willingly scamming anyone?? Of course she is! I don’t think she gives a shit about her readers’ happiness and ‘self-love’. I vaguely recall a quote from her in the NZ Herald regarding her comments and she said doesn’t care what 14 year-olds in their bedrooms think. Nice! But she’ll take their money!
    I haven’t clicked on her site in months and randomly clicked on today (call it morbid curiosity)…absoloutely disgusted and outraged to see how low a person will go. Not only is she preying on people at their lowest ebb who are possibly suffering from depression and at a difficult time in their life with candy-and-rainbows catch-all cures, she is also…wait for it…’give me your depressed mates and I’ll reward you for their self-loathing!..the more the better!’. Kitty is correct, this reads like a pyramid scheme and is, to my knowledge, illegal in the UK. I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I saw it.
    And not only that, but you have to pay now, wait three months to start trying to like yourself! Sorry kids, Gala’s too busy at the moment – there’s sparkly shoes to buy.

    Please somebody, get this narcissistic, awful woman off the internet. I am so sad for girls that sign up for this because of where they are in their life, and are taken advantage of by such a shameless B****. God I am mad as hell that people like her exist.

    • Thanks for your comments and for sharing my outrage. I hadn’t visited Gala’s site in some time either until I heard about this “bootcamp,” and it’s unfortunate to see how much her page has devolved into a money-making scheme.

  24. YES. while i sometimes enjoy the positivity & sisterhood-love on Gala’s blog, the way she presents herself as a self-help guru/therapist really makes me want to vom. It’s irresponsible & incredibly dangerous – because regardless of the fact that she doesn’t care “what 14-year-olds in their bedrooms think”, those 14 year olds are hanging on her every fucking word. And to insinuate that she can help them through depression & self-loathing is a load of steaming bullshit.

    Thank you for posting this – if only more people would point out the flaws in her glitter & rainbows & cupcakes world.

    • Love your comments as always. I agree with you 100%; I think the glut of Gala’s readers are impressionable young girls who really look up to her and I think it’s a shame that she’s essentially taking advantage of them in this way.

  25. The internet woke up to the truth that Gala Darling is a scammer!! It’s all over the net, search for Gala Darling trust fund, rich parents, scam. She is a hypocrite, a rich privileged girl living a fabulous lie, using this to make money off the teen girls that buy into her candy fantasy. Someone needs to stop this bull shitter.

  26. HR I don’t think anyone gives a shit if she had rich parents (not her fault), what the issue is here is the idea that she’s charging exorbitant amounts for fluff.

    The spurious accusations are tedious and really lower the tone of what people are truly pissed at. And have already been obsessively noted (usually by the same person) all over the net.

    But I was thinking about this again the other night. She’s latched onto SO MANY self help gurus over the years I wonder how much of THEIR content she has stolen, or to paraphrase ‘I’ve been doing my research!’ in putting together this new ‘boot camp’. Remember when she was all over Mike Dooley, who send out daily FREE positive ‘go get em’ type emails in his TUT newsletter? I hope all the people she’s absorbed information from over the years are clearly taking note.

    • I’d never heard about any of this stuff floating around on the net about Gala before, so all these comments are really opening up my eyes! I agree that her background isn’t what’s important to me, though. I also remember the Mike Dooley days and the days when she was putting this information on her site for free. It’s sad.

  27. Thank you for this call out. GD has an incredible amount of privilege that she consistently denies, and this scheme is just the latest thing to really irritate me. I love seeing entrepreneurial women but trading off the back of boatloads of privilege and some really skewed ideas about what constitutes good self image is pretty scary.

    • I agree; I’m conflicted because on the one hand Gala’s clearly a marketing genius and I envy her savvy, but on the other hand making money hand over fist off her readers’ self doubt (when she used to attack this kind of thing for free on her site) rubs me the wrong way.

  28. This post is so dead on! My biggest problem with Gala is a) her refusal to acknowledge her privilege and b) the constant implication that self happiness comes from mass consumption. And this just wraps them both up into one shitty act and puts a sparkly pink bow on top. I’m linking to this post everywhere I can! And I can’t wait to see your take on her promises.

    And, Kitty, the issue people have isn’t with her having rich parents. It’s that she constantly talks about how she created this big amazing life based solely on her own hard work and positive thinking when, in reality, it was financed by her family. Which, in itself, is fine. But implying that if everyone else just TRIED HARDER and THOUGHT PINKER and they too could travel around the world regularly and move to New York and blah blah blah while never once acknowledging the privilege that REALLY made those realities is pretty offensive and shitty. But, yes, I’m way more pissed off at this new spiel of give me your money and I’ll tell you how to fix everything…and if you can’t, it’s clearly YOUR fault.

  29. What I find offensive is your idea that clinically depressed people are stupid and need to be saved from ‘falling’ for this. Give us some credit, if I give this woman $100 to participate in her big love-in, that’s my business.

    • I certainly didn’t intend to imply that people dealing with depression are stupid; I suffer from clinical depression myself which is why I found this concept personally offensive. This is just my personal opinion, though, and it’s your prerogative if you want to enroll in Gala’s program. I hope it does help the people who pay for it.

    • I think the reason posts like this need to be written is that clinically depressed people (and not just them) are vulnerable, not stupid (which Sara never implied!). At least, *I* was vulnerable and easy to scam with something like this, especially before realizing how deeply in the shit i was! Maybe you, Lee, aren’t as easily fooled (great for you ;), but im quite sure many other people can be “saved” by eye-opening articles about people like Gala.
      Also, it’s offensive even the simple fact that stuff like this exists, no matter if people fall for them or not. It can just be good to vent!

  30. I found out this post via Tumblr and I feel offended by it too. I remember reading Gala Darling’s blog fairly often when I was younger (maybe I was 18-19 back then) and now I am very surprised you can’t comment on her posts anymore.

    If we stop to think about it, that truly shows how she is not available to truly connect with her readers and allow them to have free discussions between them and share information.

    Your post was amazing and very well put, I’m glad I came across your (much more open and honest) blog.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments. I also used to be a fan of Gala’s about five years ago; she was part of the reason I was inspired to start blogging. I’m happy that she’s found so much success doing something she clearly loves, but I think it’s a shame she can’t be more open and forthcoming with her readers, and the closing of comments was the last straw for me as well. ❤

  31. Thank you for posting this. Dead on.

    • And thank you for reading!

      • I started a body image book club last week, we’re having weekly guest presenters, group calls, I’m sending out emails, etc… I closed the list at 50 people, and 50 more are waitlisted. I guess I could have made several grand doing this, if I wouldn’t have felt completely wrong and scumbaggy doing so. :/

  32. Heh, I emailed Gala Darling today just to point out that since she’s so big into ‘radical self love’ why are all the ‘inspiration photos!!!’ of skinny white ladies? We get enough of that from the every day media and her readers are all different shapes and sizes, it’s pretty basic stuff, no? Let’s see if I get a reply…

  33. I’ll admit I like her blog. Mostly for the ‘oh pretty’ aspect. But I don’t really read it with any regularity. So I’ve never really looked at it closely. I will say though the radical self love thing really pisses me off considering she also talks about weight loss. Talk about a mixed message. That is why I don’t read magazines. I even left her a facebook message about it. She did reply.

    Anyway, I am rambling. (just woke up) I love this post. Brings up a point very much worth thinking and talking about.

  34. I find the whole idea of self help like this to be more about emphasising everything that is good about one’s life than it is about actually helping people. What Gala Darling has done, in my eyes, is come across as being massively smug. Oh, and greedy.

  35. thanks for posting this. i used to read her blog too, back when it first started up. i realized over time that, rather than filling me with “radical self love”, her bullshit filled me with self-loathing. i too struggle with mental health issues, i always have, and having “positive thinking” and “try harder” pushed on me only exacerbates them. i think that what gala darling is actually encouraging is massive denial, which is extremely dangerous. she convinces people to believe that the world is a loving, kind place, emphasizing the need to be intentionally oblivious to anything that indicates otherwise. she takes “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” to a whole new level by convincing people that they can live a life just like hers if only they would allow it to happen. which in fact is not a new idea at all (see: the secret, which she fully supports and blatantly rips off) but the real danger lies in the fact that gala has convinced thousands of impressionable young girls to blame themselves when they encounter a world that is outright hostile to them. in gala’s universe, oppression does not exist. i never figured out if this is the result of living an ultra-privileged, sheltered lifestyle, or if it’s willful negligence and denial.

  36. I hadn’t heard of Gala before reading this. But I agree with you…the “bootstraps” thing makes me even crazier than I already am. Thing that bugged me the most from her site:

    “I think the ideal situation for pretty much everyone is to do work that they enjoy & which challenges them, to have the freedom & autonomy necessary to take leave when they wish, & to be able to sustain a lifestyle which appeals to them. We don’t all want to be millionaires, but we should all be able to live at a level at which we’re comfortable, without sacrificing our integrity or happiness…”

    I wish we could all find that. But for a lot of us, mental illness, disability, poverty, racism, or other forms of oppression make finding rewarding work impossible. Obviously, Gala isn’t coming from the radical, social-justice perspective that I come from, but we will need to have major social changes before everyone can have work they enjoy. If it’s possible to create the exact life that you want, then everything bad that happens to you is also your own fault. Which I just don’t believe.

  37. It’s been said a bunch already but as a new reader I wanted to pop in and say thanks for writing this. For a couple years I was a rabid gala fangirl, convinced that I only needed more sparkle to make myself happy (oh and to lose 50 pounds and change everything about myself), when in reality I needed to see a professional. I still read the blog though I more and more I have been frustrated with the lack of content and the commodifying of happiness and self love. This particular announcement rubbed me the wrong way and I went right to her facebook page to ask if it would be original content or if it would be like the podcasts I paid for that included CONTENT THAT WAS STILL ON THE BLOG FOR FREE. (Said question is in her faq’s regarding the ‘bootcamp’ now.)

    Anyway, I ramble on because I am definitely one of those girls that has “[thrown] money at Gala in the hopes that they can somehow buy some of her luck and sparkle” (and dealth with the subsequent spiral of self loathing). Thanks for speaking up about it. And I’m really enjoying the rest of your blog, too.

  38. Cool story, bro.

  39. Sara,
    This is a great post, and I appreciate your point of view. However, as a reader of Gala’s, I think you err towards oversimplification. It’s unfair to characterize her readership as a gaggle of naive women lusting after her sparkly dresses. Moreover, the ‘Rainbows-and-Cupcakes’/sparkly glittery package is part of her personal brand, and in my opinion it makes her more relatable than my psychiatrist or, say, Tony Robbins. To each her own.
    As for the monetization, yes, I think $100 is steep. But her readers know what they’re going to get for their money, because it’s plastered all over her blog. She’s not doling out psychiatric advice, but rather, tools (journaling exercises, EFT, etc,) that have worked for her and that she’d recommend to others. Secondary to that is the fact that she’s never been shy about the fact that her products (podcasts, seminars, etc) are what pay her rent. I don’t see how that’s different from Eckhart Tolle or Jack Canfield selling books, yet they aren’t characterized as greedy charlatans (ok maybe now I’m oversimplifying). Still, capitalism at it’s finest.
    I don’t think the point you’re making is off the mark. But it seems unfair to characterize her as a sparkly pink grifter and her readers as naive fangirls ready to gobble up whatever she sells them because they’ll be that much closer to a free Birkin.
    That being said, your blog is excellent and I look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks for your insightful comment! I admit to my short-sightedness when it comes to Gala’s readership; thank you for setting me straight. I have issues with all “self-help gurus,” both “legitimate” and more in Gala’s vein, so perhaps that’s where part of my chagrin over this whole thing is coming from. I certainly didn’t intend to offend any of Gala’s readers who might be interested in her program — I am sure it will work for some people, and I hope that the majority of those who do invest will find it helpful. I just feel it’s unfortunate that Gala seems to have lost sight of what made her so popular in the first place, namely the sense of community she generated when her blog was still iCiNG.

      Thanks again for your comment, and I’m so glad you’ve come across Cartoon Heart!

  40. I’ve never heard of this Gala Darling, but right on her front page in an excerpt of the “boot camp” I’m seeing a lot of Rob Brezsny minus the crystals and dressed in heels. New Age for the cupcake set. How dull. How dishonest.

  41. Hey Sara.

    First things, first. My name is Liz and I’m “IRL” friends with one of your besties, Jill. She’s my upstairs neighbor & tonight she brought my bf & I some bread she made at work and mentioned you had a blog {as do I}. So hi! 🙂

    Secondly, HOLY MICKEY MOUSE SHIT. My mind is currently blown right now. Gala is also the core inspiration for why I started blogging, and I’ve spent the last 45 minutes googling “gala darling trust fund” and following all the breadcrumbs. I’m actually pretty fucking sad. I can’t believe she’s this…fake? I even JUST interviewed her on my blog {http://srslyliz.com/geek-chic-an-interview-with-gala-darling} & so it just compounds the whole situation for me. Wow. Thank you {and everyone who commented} for bringing the truth to light. I’m disappointed to say the least, but I hate bullshit.

    Anyway, I added you to my Google Reader so, yay. Maybe if you come visit Jill & Allan before they move back to SoCal I’ll get to meet ya 🙂

    • Hi, Liz! Nice to e-meet you! Jill mentioned you had a blog so I’m so excited you’ve stopped by mine!

      Gala was part of the reason I started blogging years ago as well, though over the past few years I admit I stopped relating to her and sort of lost interest in her site. Hearing about this bootcamp got me re-interested in seeing what she’s up to these days. I also hadn’t heard much about her background, and I do feel duped!

      I hope we’ll be back up in Sac in the next couple of months! Hopefully I’ll get to see you! ❤

  42. Honestly, as a blogger, Gala’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I would love if I could have the impact on readers she does and build such a great community (one she really has shut herself off from), and find a way to make a living on it. On the other, it’s amazing how dramatically her site has changed over the years, and while I appreciate that she seems to be a cunning businesswoman, I couldn’t charge for some of the things she does. I remember buying 1 podcast from her and thinking it was the biggest waste of $12 (I WISH I had bought a pizza instead).

    Good for her for finding a way to make money on her site, but bad for promoting a certain set of ideals, lifestyle, and goals that she’s not totally transparent on in her own site. I’ve suffered through things like depression throughout my life, but I can’t imagine there’s anything in her boot camp you can’t find from reading her archives.

    I agree with Sally so much when she said, “Blogging has spawned a generation of self-made experts, and I’m sure as hell one of them so I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole phenomenon. But cultivating and claiming expertise in style, cooking, or home decor is one thing, declaring that you can teach absolutely anyone how to love herself/himself is quite another. And there’s a huge difference between offering advice from personal experience, and charging people for a boilerplate self-help guide and promising it’ll make their dreams come true.”

    (By the way, found your blog recently and ADORE IT.)

    • Thanks so much for your comment and sweet compliment! I agree with you having mixed feelings about Gala; I’d also love to have half the success she does but I’d hope I wouldn’t sacrifice my integrity as a blogger for said success, which I’m afraid she has to some extent, whether she’s aware of it or not.

      I also agree that Sally’s comment was insightful and totally true!

  43. I don’t know if anyone else had noticed, but her 3 year artists visa is up. Interesting time to decide to get married.

  44. I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I wasn’t even aware of Gala Darling until now, and after I read her self love boot camp announcement I was absolutely appalled by her exploitation. Struggling with self loathing and anxiety myself, it is quite unlikely that one would be able to get over their demons in 30 days through her saccharine, rainbows and sparkles self help program. It may help those who are reasonably content with their lives, but it will further alienate those who continue to suffer from more severe mental health issues. If it took her years to be who she is today, how does she honestly expect those to be as happy as her in only thirty days through podcasts and forums? Why does she feel her pursuit of happiness is the only path for others? And if she truly wants to help people achieve stability and happiness in their lives, why charge people $100? Why not enable comments on her blog instead? Considering that she’s most likely not a certified mental health professional, it’s a bit arrogant and irresponsible of Gala to charge $100 for a program when her efforts may not be fail proof; when it took her several years-not 30 days- to achieve her sense of self worth and happiness. Her bootcamp concept reeks of a scam, and it’s sickening how she tries to prey and profit on some of her reader’s insecurities. Taking her empty whimsy into account, it seems like that she doesn’t care about helping people; she only cares about projecting her privileged, whimsical lifestyle onto other people.

    That said, Thanks for writing this. I really enjoyed your post; it’s well articulated and spot on.

  45. Thank you so so so much for this post. Like a lot of other people here, I was a fan of Gala all through college (I even ran into her in the East Village once and pretty much gushed all over myself telling her how much I loved her blog). But her shutting down comments — when she had such an awesome community! — really opened my eyes to how little she cares about the people who give her the ad clicks and views that allow her to buy the Moleskins and shoes she loves so much. This $100 scam is just another nail in the coffin.

  46. I think I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it if it weremorecomparable in price to a book. I mean, it’s basically a self help book, right? Why is it 100 dollars?

  47. I never particularly cared for that girl’s writing style, but I LOVED the community!!! Screw the posts–I loved reading the comments and people’s awesome recommendations, viewpoints, etc. When she shut off her comments I lost all interest in her site.

  48. her latest post claims not using tampons will reduce your period by two days?????? how does THAT work?

  49. Oh god, she bores the shit out of me. And her whole self help thing seems like such a scam. Whoever actually purchases that is a total idiot, sorry.

    halcoholic

  50. She’s opened up a post on this ‘bootcamp’ for comment from readers.
    http://galadarling.com/article/radical-self-love-open-session

    I think OPs thoughts should be voiced there, for others to see, as they are very valid indeed.

    Though from what I have heard, Gala is quick to delete comments that even hint at criticism.

  51. comments are no longer open and instead she asks for emails. haha. that was quick.

  52. If she has nothing to hide and nothing on her conscience she wouldn’t have a problem with keeping her comments section open. Or maybe she doesn’t want any negative comments scaring off prospective “customers” (read: naive, vulnerable girls) that she’s more than happy to take money off.

  53. neitherplacenortime

    I have delightfully stumbled across your blog after looking for advice on how to break-up with Gala Darling. While I used to love her sheer effervescence, I now find her self-indulgent, narcissistic wank to be a bit trite. I participated in the so-called Radical Self Love Bootcamp and found Gala’s “advice” to be of the sort which like you say, can be found anywhere on the internet. I have a copy of the materials if you’d like to critique these. Have bookmarked you. 🙂

  54. Thank you for your blog post. Ashamedly, I admit I was about to sign up to Gala’s self-love bootcamp after a pretty dark period of my life. Another $100 seemed to be a good investment if it meant that I actually learned to have compassion towards myself. However, I completely agree with your blog post, you shouldn’t need a course to tell you how to love yourself. Furthermore, having sent Gala two e-mails enquiring about the course and one thanking her for one of her posts a while back, I have never had a response from her, which made me think twice. Your blog has just replaced hers on my Favourites list. Thank you so much xx

  55. I’ve followed her for years, but she’s lost me with her endless ad integrated photoshoots and endless product orientated posts. And after seeing her livestream, I see why she is a blogger, she doesn’t come across well, has she not been media trained? She can no longer hide her pretentious attitude via livestream..

    She’s lost her original fans that have got her to where she is today.

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