Usually I stray from writing opinionated pieces on public news, but the story of the Belle Gibson scam has consumed my thoughts for over a month now.
If you’re not familiar with the story, let me give you a recap.
Belle Gibson is an Australian entrepreneur who had a mighty story behind her. Not only did it seem that Belle had a troubled upbringing, but she was also a cancer survivor, but not in ways that others where – she had cured her own cancer by self-treating through diet and exercise. She claimed that through the “power of fruits and vegetables” and other therapies and treatments she was able to cure herself of cancer. She was said to be treating herself for many different types of cancers (blood, spleen, uterus, liver, kidney and neurological) and we all bought it.
TheWholePantry app, an app entailing all the recipes/exercises that nursed her to health, launched in August 2013 when Belle was just 21 years old and had 200,000 downloads within the first month. With her success and story only rising, Belle launched TheWholePantry book in November 2014, it was published in Australia and was in the works of being published in Europe and the US. PLUS she was even working with Apple to transition the app as an inclusion in the Apple Watch launch, which was scheduled for April 2015.
It seemed as though Belle had it all, she and her family where healthy and happy (she had had a son in 2010 and now was dating Clive Rothwell) plus she was raking in the $$ as well as becoming known worldwide.
But one month ago, her story was realised as inconsistent. So what was the first thing that had people questioning the legitimacy of her story? It was revealed Belle never donated $300,000 from the sales of her app to charity as promised.
People then started to notice holes in her story. Belle had reportedly told a prospective business partner in 2014 that she had “several names” that she went by. She had informed media that the cancer had reached her liver and kidneys however three months earlier had posted on The Whole Pantry’s Facebook page that her cancer had spread to her blood, spleen, brain and uterus.
She also had previously claimed that she had heart surgery several times, had momentarily died amidst one surgery and that she also suffered a stroke. However, there were no scars as a result of heart surgery. Coincidentally, Belle was unable to substantiate her medical claims or name the doctors who diagnosed her condition.
It wasn’t looking good for Belle, but some part of me and I’m sure many others around the globe where hoping that maybe the media was reading too far into it. Unfortunately, this past Wednesday my hopes where shattered. The Australian Women’s Weekly released an exclusive tell all interview on Belle Gibson where she was directly asked, if she has, or has ever had cancer.
“No. None of it’s true,” she confessed.
There’s a whole lot of who-ha going on now that these five words have been printed. Me? I think FiFi Box said it best.
“Let’s face it, people have probably made choices about their lives and their health based on her advice,” the 38-year-old radio personality said.
“Some people may have actually passed away. People are making choices about healing themselves from cancer based on her blatant lie about curing herself of a disease she never had,” she added.
“To make light of cancer, but then to tell people how to cure themselves — it is disgraceful.”
Earlier this month, Victoria Police said they would not pursue criminal charges against Gibson. Last year, Belle won
Cosmo’s editor Brownyn McCahon told news.com.au the magazine won’t be stripping Gibson of her award, which was reader-voted.
“Thankfully she wasn’t awarded winner of the Role model category! Do our readers feel cheated? Absolutely. And while we feel immensely disappointed and mislead by Belle, we won’t be stripping her of the award because Cosmo is about supporting women through triumph and adversity,” McMahon said.
The only thing that I can take from this, is that Belle did this awful, unexplainable thing to the trusting people of the public and she is not even being punished for it. Sure, she’s being punished with criticism and the known fact that this lie will now define who she is and that she will always be known as “the girl who lied about having cancer,” but she’s not really paying any price for her it. Is that okay?
Australians are infuriated following the confession, one cancer sufferer herself even writing a letter to Belle on mammamia.com opening with, “I want you to know that I am angry with you. I’m not actually angry. I’m infuriated beyond belief.”
Where was once praised and looked upon as an inspiring role model to all, Belle is now defined by her lies. And I can’t really think of anything sadder than that. Her Wikipedia profile now reads, known for: backlash over false claims to have had and cured, cancer, false claims of heart surgery, false claims of having had a stroke and failing to hand over money collected for charities.
What do you think of the Belle Gibson scam? Let me know below, I’m genuinely interested xx