Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!
This fashion month, you're more likely to catch showgoers inhaling a pre-runway celery juice than a cigarette. Former Victoria's Secret Angel Miranda Kerr traded in her bedazzled wings to infuse organic instead. Naomi's latest gig? She's the face of fitness empire Equinox. Jeremy Scott routinely teams up with health food company Sakara for backstage catering services at his shows.
Wellness and fashion have always had a symbiotic relationship, maybe because style trendsetters are naturally inclined to adopt hip new health fads early on. Call it the "Goop effect," call it the industry's affinity for riding the line between cutting-edge and controversial — but the aforementioned "hip new health fads" have recently taken a turn towards the taboo.
Yes, I'm talking about colon cleansing.
Bryanboy is tweeting about it. Katie Sturino of @the12ishstyle is touting the benefits on her Instagram Stories. Madonna, Beyoncé and (of course) Gwyneth Paltrow are reportedly fans. Which begs the question: Are colonics… cool?
For the uninitiated, a colonic involves a trained professional inserting a tube into your rectum and flushing the area with warm water for about an hour while you, bare-assed, expel that water and waste into a bowl. (Glamorous, eh?) There's scant scientific material to prove it's useful — but anecdotal evidence abounds. "Many of my clients report constipation relief, better digestion, less gas and bloat, clearer skin, weight loss, less brain fog, better sleep, a lighter feeling and sense of well-being," Stephanie Kato, a Metaphysical Colon Hydrotherapist at Iyasu Colonics in Los Angeles, tells Fashionista.
The belief is that colon cleansing loosens any excess waste that's built up on the walls of the intestines, kind of like plaque, and helps your body eliminate it. With toxins gone and a fresh pathway cleared, you're essentially pressing "restart" on the digestive system. Considering the fact that a slew of recent studies have connected digestive health to everything from a stronger immune system to clearer skin to improved mood, it makes sense that people are more than willing to undergo a protocol of “three to six colonics about a week or two apart," according to Kato. "Once someone has completed the initial cleansing period, maintenance can vary depending on the health of the client."
Perhaps cleanse is the magic word that's elevated colonics from secret shame to oddly chic.
After all, it is decidedly trendy to cleanse, in whichever form it takes — be it juicing, souping, sauna-ing or colon irrigating. "When I used to work at [Erewhon, a high-end health food store in Los Angeles], everyone that worked there, some local celebs and famous nutritionists were super obsessed with some guy in West Hollywood who would give colonics out of his bathroom," a source who wanted to remain anonymous tells Fashionista. "He would use a vibrator on the women afterward to give them an orgasm and supposedly a better 'cleanse.'"
No, physically orgasming post-colonic is not what you'd call a typical experience, but people have equated the feeling of release that a colonic brings as "a spiritual orgasm." Jenna Reiss, a Breathwork Meditation Coach, tells Fashionista, "My second [colonic] experience was entirely spiritual — it felt as though I could feel my whole body releasing, as though weights were being taken off my body." The relaxation was so total, she nearly cried. "It felt oddly orgasmic; it wasn't physically orgasmic though, it was spiritually orgasmic, like the weights that were being lifted felt so good to release, and my body was so grateful. It was simply the best feeling."
Kato specializes in this particular blend of physical-meets-metaphysical cleansing at LA's Iyasu Colonics. "I'm honored to work with clients who are willing to look at their physical illness and dysfunction from the different perspectives: mental (belief systems), emotional (unresolved emotional trauma) and spiritual (willingness to trust)," she says. "For example, when they understand the gas and bloat they feel may be linked to their need to protect themselves emotionally, a whole new conversation within them opens up. It is fascinating when a client shares personal emotional issues with me and their body responds with physical releases of waste."
The concept can be traced back to ancient sects of Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism, where the gut chakra — or gut energy center — rules over intuition, personal power and confidence. Energetic issues in these areas have been known to manifest as physical pain in the gut; and while a plethora of today’s popular practices, like Breathwork and Reiki healing, seek to balance the gut chakra energetically, colonics clear shit out on the physical plane. Pardon the expression.
This no doubt plays a part in the recent chatter around colon cleanouts. It's less "look at my shiny new intestinal wall" and more "share in my wellness journey."
As self-care and alternative wellness become more and more culturally relevant (crystal facials are a thing now, FYI) and Instagram ushers in the age of oversharing, it's fine — and even encouraged — to broadcast physical, mental and emotional breakthroughs on social media. Celebrities and influencers use these platforms to talk about their mental health struggles, therapists appointments, diets, exercise routines and alternative healing methods. Revealing left-of-center wellness inclinations is the new normal (Gisele Bundchen recently shared that she covers her children in onion slices to ward off sickness in her book Lessons), and colonics are just par for the course.
That being said, being #influenced to get a colonic is not the same as being influenced to buy that new Saks Potts jacket. "Yes, there are risks with colon hydrotherapy," Kato says. "I will not allow a client to take a session until they have filled out an extensive questionnaire detailing their medical history." Some prerequisites are a set of healthy kidneys and a strong heart, since colonics gently increases internal pressure of the body and could potentially lead to complications (like a perforated bowel — ouch).
But if you do decide to colon cleanse? Take it from the fashion industry’s elite: The cool thing to do is to tell everyone you know about it — preferably over a chilled glass of celery juice.