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Belle Gibson is an “alternative medicine” fraud who for years claimed that she beat cancer with a healthy diet. According to Gibson, in 2009 her doctor told her she had about four months to live thanks to an inoperable brain tumor. After two months of chemo, she said she quit to instead focus on eating clean, giving up gluten, dairy, and GMOs, because when you’re fairly ignorant about food and medical science, you think that those things cause cancer that can be cured by giving those things up. She also, of course, claimed that she got colonics and meditated and other various forms of nonsense.
She started the Whole Pantry website, app, and cookbook to help other people with cancer beat it through clean eating. Her app was featured on the Apple Watch launch, and she pledged to give much of the proceeds to charity.
Only it turns out, none of her personal story appears to have happened. Anyone who knew Gibson personally seemed to know that she is some kind of pathological liar, and she recently caved under pressure and admitted that she never had cancer of any kind. The money she promised would go to charity never materialized. Apple has pulled her app and her publisher is stopping sales of her book.
Back in December, the Australian women’s magazine Elle published a profile on Gibson called ‘The Most Inspiring Woman You’ve Met This Year’, in which they praised her courage and promoted her new book and growing empire to 180,000 people.
In the wake of the news that Gibson is an admitted fraud who is peddling dangerous pseudoscience to people with serious illnesses, Elle’s Features Editor Vanessa Lawrence wrote a new article summarizing what they now know to be the truth. It’s a good piece in that it reveals the truth about Gibson while pointing to her natural living colleagues who have died thanks to forgoing real medicine in favor of nonsense. She even quotes David Gorski. Great.
But weirdly, nowhere in the article does Lawrence accept any responsibility for Gibson’s fame, nor does she apologize for gullibly accepting her astonishing lies. Nor does she seem at all embarrassed that when she received an anonymous letter detailing some very easy-to-check facts about Gibson, like giving her true age and the location where she attended high school, Lawrence dismissed it as a pack of lies instead of taking 10 minutes to call the high school and verify the information.
Lawrence writes that a lot of people are angry at Gibson, but she’s just sad. Well here are some other emotions for her to try out: sorry, embarrassed, guilty of putting the lives of cancer patients at risk, or disgusted to be contributing to an industry that is based on feeding bullshit to women in exchange for money.
The absolute slightest bit of journalistic integrity would have stopped that profile before it even started. Unfortunately, women’s magazines aren’t journalism – they’re advertisements that are actually sold to women. Lawrence even admits that when she says that it was her idea to profile Gibson to promote her upcoming cookbook.
So, fuck Gibson, fuck Lawrence, and fuck Elle. Oh, and fuck Apple, too. Did no one developing the Apple watch look at this app produced by a woman who claimed to have beat cancer using healthy eating and thought, hmm, do we know anyone who had a less-than-ideal result from forgoing traditional cancer treatments in favor of alternative nonsense? Anyone? Anyone???