Belle Gibson went from super-influencer to social pariah in a matter of days – but who is she and why did she lie about having cancer?
A new documentary film airing on BBC One tells the extraordinary tale of her fraudulent claims.
Bad Influencer: The Great Insta airs on Wednesday June 30 2021 at 10.35pm.
And, we’ve got to say, it’s worth staying up for.
Who is Belle Gibson?
Belle, now 29, was an Australian wellness blogger, with more than 300,000 followers.
She was born in Tasmania and, according to interviews, had a troubled upbringing.
At the age of 18, Belle had a son.
Three years later, in 2013, the 21-year-old Belle launched The Whole Pantry mobile app.
She became famous when she revealed she’d been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
The social media star told her followers she had four months to live.
She then revealed she had “cured” herself through healthy eating and alternative medicines.
In fact, Belle did not have cancer at all.
Belle Gibson’s The Whole Pantry and cancer lies
The Whole Pantry app became a huge hit, and Belle Gibson soon signed a book deal.
Belle chronicled her battle with cancer on a blog of the same name.
However, “doubts about her claims surfaced after she failed to deliver a promised $300,000 donation to a charity”.
Belle claimed to have “countless times helped others” to forgo conventional medical treatment for cancer and to treat themselves “naturally”.
In interviews, she claimed to have suffered from malignant brain, blood, spleen, uterine, liver, and kidney cancers.
She further claimed her health woes were as a result of a reaction to the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine.
She’d previously claimed that she had undergone heart surgery several times and to have momentarily died on the operating table.
Belle also said she’s suffered a stroke.
However, her story soon emerged as inconsistent and she was unable to substantiate her medical claims.
Nor did she have any scars.
Why did she lie about having cancer?
In late April 2015, Belle gave an interview to The Australian Women’s Weekly, in which she admitted to lying.
She revealed she had fabricated all her cancer claims.
“None of it is true,” she said.
Belle blamed her upbringing, saying she’d been neglected by her now-estranged mother.
She told the interviewer she’d been forced to take care of herself and her brother since the age of 5.
Belle’s mother Natalie Dal-Bello denied claims Belle had made about her family, including the false claim that her brother was autistic.
Where is Belle Gibson now?
Consumer Affairs Victoria brought legal action against Belle for allegedly breaking Australian consumer law.
The disgraced blogger was fined A$410,000 (£240,000) for making false claims about her donations to charity.
However, Belle claimed she could not afford to pay the fines.
Authorities charged her with contempt of court and a new trial was set for 14 May.
She faced an undetermined number of years in jail if she did not attend.
In 2020, the Sheriff’s Office of Victoria raided Belle Gibson’s home in Northcote.
They seized items to recoup her unpaid fines.
Belle has since been trying to keep a low profile, but her home was raided again on May 2021.
The last public sighting of Belle Gibson came in January 2020.
Belle appeared in a video claiming to be adopted by Melbourne’s Ethiopian community.
Video footage emerged of Belle speaking in the Oromo language, referring to herself as “Sanbotu”.
She calls Ethiopia “back home”.
Has Belle Gibson ever said sorry?
Belle’s interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly was described as an admission of deceit, without expression of regret or apology.
Even now, Belle has not made a public apology.
However, courts suggested Belle might be delusional.
Was Belle married and did he husband stick by her?
Belle Gibson has a nine-year-old son, Olivier Corbett, who lives with her.
She also lives with a man named Clive Rothwell.
Belle Gibson Instagram
Her Instagram account has now been deleted.
As have all of her social media accounts and apps.
Her previous handle was @OnlyBelle.
Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con airs on Wednesday June 30 2021 at 10.35pm on BBC One.
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