‘The Way Down’: Gwen Shamblin Lara’s Hair Got Bigger As Her Cult Grew Larger


  • ‘The Way Down’ documents Gwen Shamblin Lara’s rise to cult-like fame
  • Gwen Shamblin Lara started out marketing her faith-based approach to weightloss
  • It seems she took the phrase ‘higher the hair, closer to God’ quite literally
The Way Down God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin
‘The Way Down God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin’ | HBO Max

The Way Down tells the story of weight-loss cult leader Gwen Shamblin and her Remnant Fellowship Church. The documentary recently premiered on HBO Max, and it gave many viewers their first look at Shamblin and her unique hairstyle.

The series features footage from the past 30+ years while telling the incredible story of Shamblin’s church. One thing that stands out is that Shamblin’s hair got bigger as her cult grew larger.

‘The Way Down’ is a story of abuse, manipulation, and murder

Marina Zenovich’s HBO Max docuseries The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin tells the bizarre true story of Shamblin and her transition from innocent midwestern church kid to religious cult leader. It’s a story of abuse, manipulation, and murder. Which all began in the wealthy Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee.

Shamblin grew up in the Church of Christ, which is an ultra-conservative Protestant movement. They don’t allow women to speak, pray, or preach in public, and this taught Shamblin the power of strict biblical doctrine and the domination it can bring.

Gwen Shamblin combined her two favorite things

Shamblin struggled with her weight all through childhood, and this led her to study nutrition in college. In the 1980’s, she created The Weigh Down Workshop, which was a combination of her two favorite interests: weight loss and religion.

The Weigh Down Workshop taught women to only eat when they feel hunger pains. And to convert their cravings and love of food to worship and love for the Lord. The program was a success and quickly grew to churches across the midwest and southeast.

But by the late 1990s, her weight-loss philosophy and workshops started turning into a cult. Shamblin started her own church and claimed to be a prophet who preached thinness and beauty to her congregation. As her following grew, so did her platinum blonde hair.

Gwen Shamblin Lara’s hair got bigger as her cult grew larger in ‘The Way Down’

As the docuseries shares clips of Shamblin throughout her life, her hairstyle changes dramatically. And as her church grew larger, so did her hair. In the early 1990s, the dietician wore a naturally styled, short blonde haircut that straightened inward to shape her face.

She kept that for the better part of the decade. But in the 2000s, the hairstyle started gaining more and more height. By 2021, she styled her hair into an extreme part,  teased to the heavens. She also wore volumized updos with immense height that were placed directly on top of her head.

Twitter had a lot to say about Gwen Shamblin Lara’s hair

The story the film tells is quite incredible. But many viewers only wanted to talk about Shamblin’s hair on social media.

“Can we talk about how the crazier Gwen Shamblin got, the bigger her hair got?” one viewer asked “Gwen Shamblin in #TheWayDown doc took “the higher the hair, the closer to God” REAL serious..” another added.

“Why is Gwen Shamblin’s hair on her head like this?” asked a third.

The final episode of ‘The Way Down’ won’t be available until next year

The first three episodes of the five-part docuseries The Way Down premiered on HBO Max on September 30. But viewers will have to wait a few months to find out the end of the story. According to The Daily Beast, the final two episodes won’t air until early 2022.

We won’t spoil the reason why the last two episodes were delayed. But we will tell you that the story took a dramatic turn on May 29, 2021, when the movie was in the final stages of post-production.

The final two episodes will most likely cover what happened on that day, as well as the fallout that came after.

The first three episodes of The Way Down are available on HBO Max.

RELATED: HBO’s Brittany Murphy Documentary Details Complicated Relationship With Husband Simon Monjack