Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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June 2, 2015

Some thoughts on Belle Gibson

by Brian Le, Online News Editor
Some may know Belle Gibson as the mastermind behind a revolutionary health app, The Whole Pantry. Most observers, however, would call her a selfish liar and manipulative scammer.

Back in 2013, Gibson released what would become the beginning of a chain of deceit: a $2.99 app that gave recipes professed to have "healing" benefits. It became so popular that it was scheduled to become a default app on the Apple Watch. In interviews, Gibson claimed that she was diagnosed with brain cancer which spread to various other organs, but she had controlled it with just a change in nutrition. She also claimed her company (which sprouted from her "inspirational" cancer survival story) donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to five different charities.
Belle Gibson tricked the world into believing she had cancer. Courtesy of Reality Based Medicine
Belle Gibson tricked the world into believing she had cancer.

Then, in April of 2015, Consumer Affairs Victoria found that she did not donate any of the money that she raised; instead, she used it for vacations and luxuries. Her excuse? That she had problems with cash-flow and record-keeping.

After that, everything else fell: doubts were raised that she even had cancer, and she admitted that everything was made up in late April to Australian Women's Weekly.

There is something starkly wrong about how long it took for the world to realize that her story was completely fabricated. Gibson refused to show any medical records to journalists and avoided questions that challenged the legitimacy of her stories. But why did the journalists stop there? There was so much suspicion around her claims; why, then, did it take so long – over two years – for anything tangible to have happened?

Perhaps it was due to her charm, physical beauty and the heartwarming nature of her story, according to attorney Wendy Patrick. We wanted to hear and believe this story, and we did.

Still, there is no reason why we couldn't have used a little common sense to stop her lies from spiraling out of control like they did. For a story so medically incredible, it should have received some confirmation before it became so popular that over 200,000 people donated to her company. Not to blame individuals – it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to check up on someone who was so cunningly deceptive. But corporations, and even more so the media, should have confirmed the facts before allowing her to proliferate into the supposed guru that she became.
The Whole Pantry was widely successful. Courtesy of Nutrilly Nutrition
The Whole Pantry was widely successful.

Especially Apple – a vast company with huge influence – should have checked and rechecked her background before making her app a default. Instead, even with all the disparities in Gibson's stories, they continued with the app until another company finally forced Gibson to expose the truth. Accordingly, she gained tremendous ground when Apple reinforced her work; after all, it's hard to criticize Gibson when a company with such legitimacy gave her so much support.

Gibson's revelation was devastating for those who had looked up to her as a last hope - for those cancer patients who decided to forego conventional treatment because of her inspirational story. It's not implausible that she indirectly led to the deaths of many people by giving them the impetus to avoid treatments through her false testimonies.

But no matter how many people lost their edge in battling their diseases by listening to Gibson, it will be nearly impossible to prosecute Gibson: we can't prove that she was responsible for those deaths. The fact is, Gibson won't be suffering any legal repercussions. The law is in her favor. Perhaps we can now truly understand how unfair our legal system is, when such despicable actions can go without any punishment. Taking a holistic approach would seem much more just, but Gibson could easily and effectively defend herself. There is just no definitive answer as to what is the "most correct" in prosecuting Gibson.

Those who have experienced the harrowing grasps of disease have been destroyed and let-down. Ashton Taylor, who has dural arteriovenous fistula, used the recipes in Gibson's app in an attempt to improve her condition, and while she continued her treatments and operations, she still expressed her justified anger: "It's people's lives she's meddling with and she gave us so much hope…my family has had it pretty tough and they've worked hard to keep it together, but for [her] to come in and take away millions of dollars from people is just disgusting."

Gibson has done little in the way of apology, claiming that she actually was helping people. "I know the work my company and its contents did changed thousands of lives for the better," she said in one article. She also wrote of being "bullied to [her] death," blaming those who were hurt by her actions instead of herself for taking those actions.

Gibson's actions were repulsive, and her attempts at trying to back herself up are even worse. It's scary that Gibson was so successful. It's even scarier that people like Gibson exist.

To individuals, to corporations: be careful. The truth is, liars penetrate the world – they are the cancers that use our gullibility for their own devilish good. Don't let them spiral into more Belle Gibsons.

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  • lee (View Email) on June 4, 2015 at 6:10 PM
    Well summed up, complete bottom feeder she is. At the very least she should be forced to hand back every cent.
  • A G McCall (View Email) on June 5, 2015 at 10:53 PM
    Where did you get the figure '200 000' people donated to her company? Perhaps there were (and I'd love to see your source because I'm always happy to be disproven), but I am concerned that you have confused 200 000 people downloading the app (a product) as a donation. A donation is money without tangible return. An app is a purchasable product not a donation. I am enjoying your article btw, I just believe objective truth is important in building a compelling argument.
  • Drew (View Email) on June 13, 2015 at 10:32 PM
    I have read endless stories about this piece of trash Belle... what I can not for the likes of me understand is why oh why has punishment not been served??????...... I have seen people get jail time for less then this... she needs to be charged, a criminal record scared against her name... I'm sick of people making excuses such as "personality disorder" etc etc, at the end of the day any one that does such acts as this liar is always going to be labelled with some sort of problem, lets face it Belle is the lowest of the low, using the sick and vulnerable to promote her wealth... I hope she actual does end up with a serious illness, let karma have her day... My wish is that all the journalists/writers/bloggers etc make an actual difference and demand harsh punishment for this scumbag... she has pretty much got away with it... she will dye her hair, change her name, and in time no one will even recognize or know who she is... some one in power needs to make an example of her...
  • Argita (View Email) on June 28, 2015 at 9:41 AM
    The consensus of various qualified psychologists re Belle Gibson appears to be that she fits the Dark Triad profile (narcissist, psychopath, manipulator) better than Munchausen’s Syndrome. As one pointed out, people with MS tend to try to create plausible symptoms and harm their health, but Ms Gibson has not done so. Her lies, manipulations and lack of remorse point to the Dark Triad.

    Verdict: Not a victim, but a fraud, user and pathological liar.
  • sasha on July 7, 2015 at 9:12 PM
    Belle Gibson is a "TARGETED INDIVIDUAL" she was mentally abused by the gov. manipulated, told she was going to die from cancer she diden't have and then duped to make consumers feel threatened about taking care of their health . Women who have saved themself of cancer with wheat grass and supplements, and baking soda and lemon water and don't talk about it get to live.....but the doctors lose a lot a money. ALso ex-russsian spy talks about how merica gov. made its country communist....for patst 30 yrs.
  • Hope (View Email) on January 17, 2018 at 6:09 AM
    I hope she actual does end up with a serious illness, let karma have her day... [url=]happy wheels[/url] online.
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