Melbourne “wellness” blogger Belle Gibson, who built a thriving business around claims that she had cancer that was cured by healthy eating has finally admitted her illness was a lie.
Gibson’s deception is finally revealed in an exclusive interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly, published tomorrow.
Gibson claimed she had brain cancer and created a best-selling app, The Whole Pantry, as well as publishing a cookbook with Penguin last year. But her story began to unravel last month when The Sydney Morning Herald revealed she’d failed to pass on donations she promised to make to charities.
After a year of inspirational stories about her “remarkable journey”, journalists began digging and questions began to emerge about her cancer claims. Soon after both Gibson’s book and the app were withdrawn from sale. Victorian police investigated Gibson, but did not press any charges.
Gibson was asked outright if she has, or has ever had cancer.
“No. None of it’s true,” she said.
Belle rose to fame in May 2013 after claiming on social media that she had malignant brain cancer and just months to live, but healed herself with wholefoods and alternative therapies over a four year period. She became a media darling for her “inspirational” story, with around 200,000 followers on Instagram before her empire unravelled and she shut down her social media accounts.
Gibson was not paid for the interview and says it was “the responsible thing to do”, but she does not appear overly repentant for her actions, saying: “Above anything, I would like people to say, ‘Okay, she’s human.'”
The Weekly says that during interviews over two days Gibson cried easily and muddled her words when she was challenged and ponders if Gibson has a psychological disorder known as Munchausen syndrome, in which people fake illness to gain attention.
“I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I’m not really there yet,” she said.
Gibson says she’s not seeking forgiveness and the public response in the wake her deception has been “horrible”, saying “people need to draw a line in the sand where they still treat someone with some level of respect or humility — and I have not been receiving that”.
She paints a picture of herself as an abandoned child with a troubled childhood forced to care for herself from age five.
Gibson says she doesn’t understand why she lies.
The May issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly is out on April 23.
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