This is one of those stories that you hear about and instantly assume to be fiction. A profitable business promoting health and wellbeing all founded on a bunch of lies? Never!
We can only imagine that life must feel pretty strange right now for Australian blogger Belle Gibson who garnered herself an impressive following after chronicling the ways in which she’d kicked cancer in the teeth through healthy eating and holistic lifestyle choices. She even wrote a best-selling recipe book and launched a popular app called ‘The Whole Pantry.’ Though much of what she preached was indeed healthy and interesting, there was one small issue: she never had cancer.
Yes, as reported by The Guardian and several other outlets, she never had cancer, not even the merest hint of cancer. Apart from the fact that she really does like to avoid gluten and dairy and other such things, she fabricated the entire thing. And thus you go from a revered, social influencer to a global disgrace.
Gibson’s story held in place for a considerable amount of time – her false ill health claims go back as far as 2009, when she said she had undergone multiple heart surgeries and died on the operating table – however things quickly began to unravel after she failed to pay thousands of dollars in donations that she had promised to charities on the back of her empire’s success.
Following this, it’s said that Gibson’s story began to further muddle. She was now saying that she had been wrongly diagnosed as having cancer of the spleen, blood, and uterus, but she insisted that her terminal brain cancer was real.
Now that Gibson’s come out to admit that even that much wasn’t true, she’s become the subject of ridicule the world over: ‘How could someone do something like that?’, ‘What about all the sick people who believed that she’d found health by ignoring traditional medicine?’, the head-scratching questions are endless.
In a tell-all series of interviews with Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson asks that we consider her as a human being, a mere mortal, capable of making mistakes just like anyone else.
“None of it’s true… I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, ‘OK, she’s human.’”
Women’s Weekly explain: “During the interviews, whenever challenged, Belle cried easily and muddled her words… She says she is passionate about avoiding gluten, dairy, and coffee, but doesn’t really understand how cancer works.”
Penguin, who published her book, have since pulled all copies of it while Apple have withdrawn ‘The Whole Pantry’ for download.
We’re not about to defend Miss Gibson, but would the publishers not have wanted to query her story for validation before producing a book? Surely, there must exist some process for books that aren’t fiction? No?
What former fans of Gibson and countless others are really after is a reason why she decided to lie in the first place. However, Women’s Weekly say that she failed to explain clearly what lead her to make up the cancer story, merely referring to the fact that she’d had a tough childhood.
At this point, it’s hard to believe anything that she might say, but one can only guess that there’s something unfortunate at play here, some deep-seated need for attention or perhaps the kind of addictive behaviour we’ve seen with the likes of Catfish. Who knows.
Gibson has since spoken out on social media to say that she is being bullied and that despite her minor (or major) fib, she’s actually changed ‘thousands of lives for the better.’ There’s more than a few, we imagine, who’d highly disagree, we’re afraid.
Like a good old-fashioned crime drama, it seems the truth will always out.