MELBOURNE social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson once told her 200,000 online followers not to be deceived by her healthy appearance.
Given the myriad health catastrophes Gibson had detailed to her Facebook and Instagram audience — the terminal brain tumour she first revealed in 2009; the multiple secondary cancers riddling her body; the seizures, brain-swelling and hospitalisations she had described — some had expressed wonderment that she maintained such a chic appearance while caring for her four-year-old son and running her internationally successful “wellness” business, The Whole Pantry.
“It’s confronting to most, even those attached to my life each day, that I get up and get on with everything,” Gibson wrote on Instagram last September. “That I ‘don’t look sick’, that cancer isn’t always the dramatised scene it is in (the) media.”
As she sat sipping peppermint tea in a Melbourne cafe three weeks ago, Gibson still did not look sick — in fact, she looked the embodiment of youthful beauty, with her honey-blonde hair tied back and her casual T-shirt and shorts revealing a tan acquired on a recent ocean cruise to Vanuatu and Noumea.
It’s not hard to see why Cosmopolitan and Vogue have jumped on her story of miraculous survival from cancer through natural healing, or why international book publishers and computer giant Apple have turned The Whole Pantry into a multimedia global brand.