In the age of social media, influencers hold a lot of power and responsibility, and they also have a lot of pressure to remain popular and relevant. In light of that, some influencers have faked medical conditions to gain more attention and followers. In this article, we’re discussing 10 influencers who lied about their medical struggles to gain popularity and attention.
1. Emerald Rose
Emily from the Tics and Roses Tiktok channel was making videos under the guise of raising awareness for Tourette’s, while she was promoting her yarn dyeing business. Emily claimed that she had Tourette Syndrome since she was 6-7 years old. In her videos, her tics seemed fake and intentional, and some community members called her out on this. However, it was only when someone looked into her previous channel that they discovered she had never actually had Tourette’s. Emily had been using her fake Tourette’s to attract attention to her yarn dyeing venture.
2. Belle Gibson
Belle Gibson is an Australian influencer who gained a significant following by claiming to have cured her brain cancer through natural remedies and healthy eating. She published a cookbook and launched a wellness app, both of which claimed to help people with cancer and other serious illnesses. Nonetheless, in 2015, it was revealed that Gibson’s initial cancer diagnosis had been incorrect. This revelation led to a widespread negative response and the decline of Gibson’s reputation. Australian authorities subsequently launched legal proceedings against her for her deceptive actions and false statements. In 2017, a legal judgment found that Gibson had misled her followers and imposed a fine of $410,000 upon her.
3. Brittany Dawn
Brittany Dawn Davis is a fitness influencer who gained a significant following on Instagram and YouTube by promoting her personalized meal plans and workout programs. However, in 2018, she faced a backlash from her customers, who accused her of failing to deliver on her promises and providing generic, unhelpful advice. Many of her clients claimed that they had paid for personalized plans but received the same meal and workout plans as others, despite her promises of a tailored program. Others alleged that she had ignored their emails or requests for refunds. In response to the criticism, Davis apologized and offered refunds to affected clients. Davis also faced criticism for allegedly faking health issues to avoid criticism or refund requests. She claimed to have suffered from a variety of medical conditions, including thyroid issues and depression, but some clients alleged that these claims were untrue or exaggerated. The situation led to widespread discussion about the ethics of the fitness influencer industry and the importance of transparency and honesty in marketing and promotion. Davis has since apologized for her actions and has attempted to rebuild her brand, but she continues to face criticism from some customers and industry observers.
4. Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith is a social media influencer who gained a considerable following by sharing her cancer journey on Instagram. Her posts about her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery garnered sympathy and support from her followers. However, in 2019, it was revealed that Smith’s cancer story was fabricated. A former friend of hers alleged that Smith had never been diagnosed with cancer and that all her social media posts were lies. The friend also claimed that Smith had a history of making up stories to gain attention and sympathy. As a result, there was widespread condemnation and outrage from Smith’s followers and the public. Many accused her of exploiting a severe illness for personal gain and trivializing the experiences of those who have genuinely been affected by cancer. Following the backlash, Smith deleted her social media accounts and issued a public apology. However, she has continued to face criticism and struggled to rebuild her reputation as an influencer.
5. Anna and Lucy DeCinque
Anna and Lucy DeCinque are Australian identical twins who have gained a significant following on social media for their extreme dedication to being identical. They have undergone numerous cosmetic surgeries and procedures, including lip fillers, breast implants, and tattooed eyebrows, to ensure that they look exactly alike. The twins have often spoken about their desire to be identical, stating that they share everything from their clothes and makeup to their boyfriends. They have also faced criticism and skepticism from some quarters about the authenticity of their claims, with some suggesting that their appearance and behavior are the results of a publicity stunt or mental illness. The DeCinque twins have leveraged their following on social media to launch a career as influencers and reality TV personalities. They have appeared on several Australian television programs, including “Hughesy, We Have a Problem” and “Botched”, and have also promoted numerous products and brands on their social media accounts. Their extreme lifestyle and appearance have led to both fascination and criticism from the public and the media, with some questioning the ethics of their influence and the impact of their message on young people. Despite the controversy, the twins have continued to maintain their dedication to being identical and have amassed a large and devoted following on social media.
6. Brooks Ayers
Brooks Ayers gained notoriety as a former cast member of the reality TV show “The Real Housewives of Orange County” after being caught in a scandal in 2015. He claimed that he was being treated for stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but his story was met with skepticism from his co-stars and the public due to inconsistencies. In the show’s reunion episode, Ayers showed a medical record, which was subsequently revealed as counterfeit. His fellow cast members leveled allegations that he had manipulated a grave ailment to further his interests, prompting a wave of public disapproval directed at him and the program. Despite a lack of substantiating proof, Ayers remained steadfast in his report of having cancer. Ultimately, he released a statement expressing regret, admitting to having committed errors and exaggerating the extent of his illness.
Sketchek, also known as Shayne Smith, gained popularity in the online gaming community as a skilled player of “Team Fortress 2.” However, in 2015, news of his supposed death from leukemia began circulating online, causing shock and sadness among his fans. As time passed, inconsistencies in the reports of Sketchek’s death began to surface, leading to speculation that the news may have been fabricated. Eventually, it was revealed that Sketchek had indeed faked his own death in an attempt to garner sympathy and support from his followers. The revelation of Sketchek’s deception caused a backlash within the online gaming community, with many fans feeling betrayed and angry that they had been manipulated in such a way. Some argued that his actions had damaged the credibility of the community as a whole. In response to the backlash, Sketchek issued a public apology, admitting to his mistakes and expressing remorse for his actions.
8. Leah Messer
Leah Messer rose to fame as a reality TV star on “Teen Mom 2.” In 2014, Messer made a public announcement that she had suffered a miscarriage, which stirred sympathy and support from her fans. However, it later surfaced that Messer had fabricated the story to hide the fact that she had an abortion. The revelation of Messer’s deceit created controversy and disappointment among her followers, who felt that she had exploited a sensitive issue for her own personal motives. The incident was seen as trivializing the struggles of women who had truly experienced miscarriages, and it damaged the reputation of both Messer and the show’s cast members. In response to the backlash, Messer publicly apologized and admitted to her deception, expressing remorse for her actions.
9. Dan Mallory
Dan Mallory, also known as A.J. Finn, gained fame with his debut novel “The Woman in the Window.” However, in 2019 he was accused of fabricating a story about his battle with brain cancer, which he had claimed inspired the plot of his book. Mallory’s deception sparked outrage and criticism, with many feeling he had exploited a serious illness for personal gain. Mallory admitted to his mistakes and apologized, revealing that he struggled with bipolar disorder. It is not known if he was actually struggling with bipolar disorder, but it is clear that he can’t be 100% trusted anymore.
10. Sarah McDaniel
Sarah McDaniel is a model and social media influencer accused of faking Tourette’s and bipolar disorders for personal gain. McDaniel’s alleged deception sparked controversy and backlash on social media, and many people criticized her for trivializing serious mental health conditions. Some also argued that McDaniel’s actions were a reflection of the pressure that social media influencers face to create a persona that is both interesting and relatable to their followers.
The influencers who faked medical conditions have caused significant harm to themselves and their followers. Their actions have eroded trust and underscored the need for increased scrutiny and fact-checking of influencers and their claims. As consumers, we must do our research, fact-check claims, and hold influencers accountable for their actions.
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