belle gibson, disgraced wellness blogger, was allegedly paid $45K by 60 minutes for an exclusive interview
Disgraced wellness blogger Belle Gibson has promised to tell all in an exclusive interview with Tara Brown on 60 Minutes this Sunday night. Whether you believe that giving air-time to someone who has lied about having terminal cancer is right or wrong, it promises to be a talking point.
Gibson admitted in April this year that she deceived her followers, as well as her own family and friends, about having terminal brain cancer which had spread to other organs. She had claimed that she cured the disease through healthy eating and natural therapies. Gibson earned over $1 million in profits from her cookbook and wellness app, ‘The Whole Pantry’, which has since been removed from the Apple store. She had promised to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity but, in April, Consumer Affairs Victoria found that she had spent the money on vacations and luxuries.
Gibson blamed her fabrications on ‘unscrupulous’ natural therapists who told her that she had cancer, as well as a difficult childhood in which she cared for her mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and her brother with autism. Her mother, Natalie Dal-Bello, fought back claiming that Gibson had lied again. Dal-Bello stated that Gibson’s brother did not have autism and that her daughter was never her carer. It has been argued by some that Gibson’s propensity to lie is evidence of a range of mental illnesses, however to go into that without a conclusive diagnosis would be imprudent and unfair for those dealing with mental illness.
Belle Gibson refused to show medical records to journalists and evaded questions about the legitimacy of her claims. Yet, until the rumours reached a fever pitch this year, there was little to no mainstream interrogation of the facts of her ‘recovery’. Rather, she appeared on various chat shows to tell her story and was indirectly endorsed by Apple, which planned to make ‘The Whole Pantry’ one of the first apps for the new Apple Watch. This is concerning, considering that her promotion of natural therapies had the potential to convince cancer sufferers to cease their approved treatment in favour of her methods.
60 Minutes has been criticised for giving Gibson air-time after having repeatedly lied, as well as unconfirmed reports that she was paid over $45,000 for the interview. A petition on Change.org is calling for Gibson to donate the money to cancer research. However, the show has maintained that the interview is the result of a three month investigation, and promises new evidence that proves that Gibson is a ‘fraud’ and not simply misguided.
The interview looks to be combative, with the preview presenting an unusually heated Tara Brown asking Gibson to simply ‘tell the truth’, even on basic questions such as her age. Gibson tells Brown that she has ‘lost everything’ as a result of the media coverage of her downfall. This arguably disproportionate statement has further angered people, as her loss of reputation could be hardly comparable to the loss experienced by families of those with cancer.
Finally, the scandal does little for the reputation of the ‘wellness industry’, which incorporates all sorts of lifestyle choices, from diet to exercise and mental wellbeing. Gibson’s brand preached of ‘self-improvement’ and empowerment through healthy eating and natural remedies. Self-sacrifice is often considered a virtue for women and, as a result, their work at self-improvement is seen as narcissistic. Women are often shamed for posting about their diet or exercise, and called ‘attention seekers’ or ‘posers’. Without going into debates about body image, the uncovering of Belle Gibson’s deception does little to help the industry and women that are so often dismissed.