By 23, wellness influencer Belle Gibson had made thousands after she claimed a plant-based diet cured her terminal cancer. But it was all a lie. Now, the BBC is working on a documentary about it, titled Bad Influencer.
The wellness industry is fraught with problems, largely because a lot goes unregulated. In the earlier days of Instagram, when misinformation was allowed to spread like wildfire (it still does, but platforms are making an effort to crack down on it), it was easy to fabricate and cultivate a certain identity with little consequence.
Case in point: Belle Gibson, who forged a small fortune off the back of claims she’d cured her terminal cancer by eating a plant-based diet and using alternative therapies. But these claims proved to be entirely false: she never had cancer to begin with.
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Now, the BBC is working on a documentary about the disgraced influencer. From her meteoric rise; a lucrative publishing deal, awards, and fame; to the reveal of her gross deception of a trusting, vulnerable audience and subsequent criminal convictions.
“Seen through the eyes of those who adored her and those who exposed her, Bad Influencer will lift the lid on one of social media’s great mysteries: who was the real Belle Gibson – an ingenious con artist or a vulnerable young woman trapped in a lie?” the show’s trailer says.
“It will also examine the £3tn ($5.3tn AUD) global wellness industry, asking why Belle was allowed to thrive for so long.”
The release date is yet to be confirmed, but it supports the idea that we should all be cautious of the information we see on social media, and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.