Belle Gibson is a popular Australian wellness blogger who has attracted millions of followers with a wellness and lifestyle regimen that takes a “‘back to basics’ approach to both cooking and nutrition.” Her lifestyle aims to “bring more fundamental foods from nature back into everyday cooking.”
Since 2009, Gibson has built a massive community around her. She has 187,000 Instagram followers, her top-rated food app called The Whole Pantry has over 300,000 downloads, and her recipe book was published by Penguin Australia last year.
Gibson promotes a diet that is “entirely gluten and sugar free with minimal dairy and allergens,” and a “back to the basics” lifestyle guided by “natural medicine and healing, fitness, wellbeing and environmental sustainability.”
Her brand, app, book, and lifestyle are particularly popular because she claimed they cured her brain cancer.
She has also claimed to “have undergone multiple heart surgeries and to have died on the operating table,” and blogged about her “multiple heart surgeries, seizures and other cancers.” All of which her natural diet and lifestyle cured.
And in July of last year—to an outpouring of support—she broke the news to her community that she had been diagnosed with a “third and fourth cancer” in her “blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver.”
Here’s a video of her talking about her journey beating cancer and creating her app for the iPhone 6 launch.
But over the course of her chart-topping popularity, increasing numbers of skeptics began to question her legitimacy. In March, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that she had not delivered $300,000 from app purchases she had promised her community she would deliver to charities.
It was also revealed that none of Gibson’s companies are even registered as lawful fundraisers, and that many of the charities she promoted in her donation drives had either never heard of her or had not been in contact with her for over a year.