Lessons from the Belle Gibson saga

No doubt you’ve all heard about the infamous creator of the very popular wellness app, The Whole Pantry, and its associated cookbook. From wellness guru to most hated woman in Australia, Belle Gibson leaves me with a tonne more questions than answers.

Belle amassed thousands of followers on Instagram after sharing her story of being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer then turning to a holistic lifestyle curing herself. Off her social media popularity, she then launched TWP and is companion cookbook. She was incredible successful and we’ll known. 

So what went wrong? Well she lied about basically everything. From the cancers, treatments, her family, her age and even her name. 

lessons from the belle gibson sagaThis post is not for hating on her or shaming her. It’s quite apparent that Belle suffers from deep issues. Definitely not cancer, as it turns out, but probably more in the way of psychological issues. I don’t condone being hateful to people, regardless of the circumstances. And I most certainly do not buy into keyboard warriors attacking vulnerable people. 

It really is a shame though, as The Whole Pantry is a brilliant app that I still use. She had so much talent and drive to create something so wonderful, yet because it came from such an ugly place (lies ain’t pretty) it was destined to implode.

I had been following Belle on Instagram since before she released her App. She seemed like a pretty down to earth, sweet woman. I admit, I believed her. I can’t say I took any specific advice from her, but I certainly do follow a similar lifestyle to the one she was advocating. If I had been so unfortunate to get struck with cancer, I most definitely would have looked to her as inspiration.

Now that her whole story has come unstuck, it’s prompted me to re-evaluate my filter.

Lesson 1: Don’t believe everything you read/see

Blind trust in everything we see, hear and read about people we don’t even know. Always, always question what you read and use as guidance, especially when it comes to serious health-related choices.

Whether it comes from officially sanctioned government sources (or perhaps even more so) or someone’s blog, do your own research.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I stand by holistic living and chemical free beauty to improve quality of life, but I would seek advice from a whole range of experts before I would try cure something. 

You are the best judge of what serves you best. Don’t stop thinking and let other people become your brain.

Lesson 2: Be authentic

Authenticity on social media. There’s nothing more important than being YOU and speaking the truth. Your truth. Not what’s expected from you.

I like to think this doesn’t just apply to social media either. My personal gauge on lying is this: how would you feel if the truth came out? If it’s shameful, you probably shouldn’t do it in the first place and secondly, the truth always has a way of coming out sooner or later. Lies generally only serve to protect you in the short term, but in the long run do so much more damage.

I wrote more about authenticity earlier.

Lesson 3: Don’t idolise people

Making people way more important than they are. The Insta-celebrity thing is out of this world. We’re all just people, ok?

Many journalists and even the publishing house Belle worked with are being accused of not doing their research on her – just taking her at her word. And their response is, but she seemed so sweet and genuine… I bet she was! Sometimes we do get caught up in the image or persona we don’t think to question the person or their story. 

This has been a harsh reminder to stop idolising people. One well known blogger recently spilled the beans on how curated everything was on her blog, her “real life blog” was not so real at all. When she stopped acting, she coped a tonne of backlash from her readers! They were so sucked in by this fantasy they accused her of having a mental breakdown! 

There’s a few takeaways from this – just because they’re not a Hollywood celebrity doesn’t make them real, or authentic. Not everything you see on Instagram is real either – generally when we see that natural, carefree looking shot of them walking down the street, there’s been 150 discarded shots. Not so natural afteral. 

We have quite good sensors now of figuring out when a magazine image has been photoshopped, but I think we all need a little more practise on figuring out the phoney instagrammers! 

We are all valuable, intelligent beings. Just as important as the next one. Raising people above yourself, or even putting others down, is one sure way of ending up miserable. 

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