The story of Belle Gibson is a fascinating one, not only because of the audacity -and the nerve- to claim she had healed her own cancer mainly through a clean eating diet (and was later revealed to be a fraud), but most importantly because the wellness entrepreneur and popular Instagram star managed to fool so many people in such a short time via a range of online media channels that were perfectly used to her convenience.
Of course charlatans are not a recent phenomenon; however the difference with Belle Gibson and her booming success was a shifting new media environment that would promote ‘Influencers’ (let’s not even get started with this term) in a way that exemplified online media’s worst elements. This was an extreme story, both during its rise and its fall.
Facts and science were out of the picture, but nobody really ever asked (oh sorry, was it not the ‘fake news’ time yet?). And by ‘nobody’ I mean publishers, agents, managers, charity directors, journalists, not to mention the 200+K Instagram followers (including cancer patients and/or survivors) who worshipped her. The Instagram star was smoothly oozing international book deals, sponsorships, best selling apps, media appearances, celebrity fame and of course a wellness hero personality.
It was not until 2015 that writers Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano – who were doing some research on wellness at the time- revealed that the social media and wellness queen had raised significant amounts of charity money that were never handed over. When scrutiny kicked off, everything in the 23 year old Belle Gibson’s life fell apart.
The same writers, after intense research on Gibson and the darkest sides of the wellness industry, are now publishing a new book in 2018 called ”The Woman Who Fooled the World”. As clean eating has been constantly debunked and scrutinised lately by a range of journalists, dietary experts and health professionals and as the Wellness industry is in the rise, this is a must-read.