As shady as this sounds, it may be happening more often than we realize. Belle Gibson, a 26-year-old wellness blogger with millions of followers, just decided to fess up. And again, the internet is freaking out. Gibson's empire, which included an app, cookbook and buzzing Instagram account, was based on the claim that her brain cancer was cured by eating a primarily plant-based diet. Anyone can see that the story is enticing. Who wouldn't want hope for an incurable disease that doesn't require chemotherapy? It's no wonder Gibson's popular app had more than 300,000 downloads.
In The Australian Women's Weekly exclusive, Gibson was quoted as saying, "None of it's true."
And then we have our beloved Food Babe blogger, Vani Hari of the Food Babe Army, who was recently discredited by Science Babe in a Gawker piece. What the heck is going on and who do we trust?
This reminds me of a time about 10 years ago when I lived in Colorado Springs, hometown to the mega-church of the now-infamous Ted Haggard. I attended Haggard's church during his great fall in 2006, which involved a secret relationship with a 20-year-old male volunteer.
You should have seen the reactions. You would have thought God fell off his throne. As it turns out, he didn't. Haggard went on to repent, star on Celebrity Wife Swap and eventually start a new church. And just like every fallen pastor or politician we've seen, I can guarantee you that popular health bloggers like these women will live to see another day.
I can't tell you why people like Gibson and Haggard think it's OK to scam an entire community of followers. But what I can tell you, and what I still firmly believe, is that one rotten apple does not spoil the whole bunch.
There are always going to be charismatic religious leaders. There are always going to be charismatic health bloggers. And it's our responsibility as "believers" to decide what we believe for ourselves.
We can spend the next few months dissecting what's wrong with deceptive food bloggers like Gibson, or we can use this time to start thinking for ourselves. Just because one blogger claimed that a healthy diet was able to cure cancer doesn't mean the health food movement isn't beneficial. The point is that there will always be new health and spiritual leaders who pop up, claiming that their way is the best way.
Ultimately, who you choose to follow doesn't really matter. What matters is that you don't follow blindly and that you choose a lifestyle that works best for you.
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