Ahh, Belle, Belle, Belle, Belle Belle.
It’s hard to like Belle Gibson, even with her quivering lip and watery eyes, It’s hard to feel sorry for the girl who deceived a nation.
I, along with millions of others, last night witnessed Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown break the 24-year-old, letting us all see the smiley, beautiful woman in a whole new light. She is no longer the inspiring individual who overcame brain cancer, but the softly-spoken girl in a pink sweater who cannot tell the truth.
When I first heard about Belle Gibson, I thought, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always a sceptic, I read about her extraordinary story and thought, she is young, attractive and a single mother, she deserves to live and good on her for trying. Oh, I wanted so bad to believe Belle Gibson.
You see here is the thing, the story I first came across was that here is this beautiful girl who had overcome brain cancer by shunning conventional treatments and following her self-devised regime of nutrition and alternative therapies. She wrote a blog about it that turned into a successful business, which was followed by a cookbook and an app, The Whole Pantry. She was young and successful, but she was also a mother who “had cancer”. I could at least relate to the mother part, and that was enough.
Tara told Belle during the interview, “No gobbledegook, I want the truth”. Yet, Belle struggled to do just that, even after signing a Statuary Declaration, she still claimed she “thought she had cancer”.
“I thought I did,” she told Tara. “I am really sorry, and it has hurt me and I beat myself up everyday,” … “I only want the opportunity to be honest, to heal and to apologise.”
Throughout the interview, Belle was seen rolling her eyes and squinting, she gasped at the accusations she is “a pathological liar, and has lied again and again,” and took numerous deep breaths, shifting on her seat after every blow.
It seemed that Tara struggled not to laugh as she asked Belle about her brain scans and why after a year of believing she had terminal cancer that was to kill her in four months, she didn’t think to seek professional advice.
Belle admitted that she did have a brain scan in 2011, but Tara discovered it was not for cancer but for Multiple Sclerosis. The scan found that Belle did not have MS, nor did she have cancer. Yet despite the revelation, she continued with her lie, selling her book, her app and her story.
Twenty minutes into the interview, after some more gut-squirming digging, Tara managed to get an evasive Belle to confess she had been misdiagnosed by not one but two “quacks”. And that she did not hear it from a qualified doctor in his office, as her book would have you believe.
The thing is, Belle was an internet sensation for two years, the Australian media lapped her up, with her beautiful smile twisting over breakfast television and even our nighttime bulletins. By the time her book had been released in the US and The UK, she had made more than $1million, which she had pledged to charity. Amazing right? Who wouldn’t love her, believe her, worship her and buy her cookbook. I did, ashamedly.
When the cracks started to appear, I wanted it all to be a media foo-ha, that they had made it up for a good story. I felt horribly sorry for the girl when she revealed to her army of social media followers that her cancer had spread. “I am hurting,” she posted on the social media site Instagram. So young, so beautiful. But then that’s the trouble, she just didn’t look ill.
Oh, Belle, Belle, Belle, Belle Belle.
Now we see that Penguin has withdrawn her book, Apple have dropped her app and The Whole Pantry is in disarray, with even her friends distancing themselves.
Do I feel sorry for Belle Gibson as she sat there and teared up? Not at all. I do, however feel sorry for her daughter, whose only role-model in life has been so publicly shamed that she is probably too scared to show herself in public.
“I lived with the fear of dying. Now I can take that off my shoulders,” Belle told Tara, as her silver lining.
Hopefully she spends the last of her earnings on a nice holiday with her daughter, or to get a real job and a nice, safe home. She said she would be giving it to charity, but I don’t think we can count on that.
Hopefully, we never hear of Belle Gibson again.