Rid yourself of your rationality and step into the all-natural world of Freelee the Banana Girl, an Australian YouTuber and blogger who’s currently embroiled in some grade-A niche drama. In 2014, she gained infamy within the lifestyle blogger scene when she promoted her 51-bananas-a-day diet, and since then, she has pivoted into a nude vegan blogger who lives in a South American jungle — or so she says. In recent weeks, some of her followers have accused her of not being so off-the-grid after all, with one commenter going as far as to make the outlandish claim that she’s living in a mansion with a personal photographer — charges that Freelee, who maintains she has “been living in a tent under a shed for many months, through monsoonal rains and gale force winds,” strongly denies.
Who is Freelee the Banana Girl?
Freelee is a popular raw vegan YouTuber and blogger who has amassed more than 425,000 followers between her two Instagram accounts, @freelee_official and @freeleethebananagirl, and nearly 785,000 followers on her YouTube channel. Originally from Queensland, Australia, the 37-year-old influencer (whose real name is Leanne Ratcliffe) is now currently living an “off-grid” lifestyle in the South American jungle with her partner.
Wait, first, why does she call herself that?
She follows a frugivorous diet, meaning that she typically only eats fruits. Most of her daily food intake comes in the form of “mono meals” that consist of a single type of fruit, such as two whole pineapples or five mangoes. After 4 p.m., she ditches her raw diet and will sometimes indulge in a cooked mono meal; for example, she once ate nearly 8 pounds of cooked potatoes for dinner. However, she sometimes will choose to have a third meal of fruit to bring up her daily calorie intake to anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000.
Also, she freaking loves bananas — so much that sometimes, she apparently eats up to 20 at a time, and once ate 51 in a day.
So what’s the big controversy surrounding her?
It all started in February 2018, when Freelee decided to leave the “concrete jungle” for “the jungle,” and moved to a cabin in a South American jungle with her partner. There, she feels “freer than ever.”
“I spend most of my day nude; free of restrictive clothing,” she wrote on Facebook in February. “I feast mostly on organic fruits and vegetables picked from the land. I shower in monsoonal rains and drink from pristine creeks. I quit an unhealthy relationship and found peace. I haven’t shaved my body hair, dyed my hair, or worn makeup in over 6 months.”
But in the past few weeks, her followers have become suspicious of her so-called “grid-free” lifestyle, accusing her of everything from secretly living in a mansion to being a fraud for using a smartphone and laptop. In late June, she addressed the allegations on Instagram.
“One commenter said I was lying and living in a mansion out here and have a photographer who follows me around taking all my pics,” she wrote. “Not quite hunny. In reality I’ve been living in a tent under a shed for many months, through monsoonal rains and gale force winds.”
In the same post, she addressed the person who questioned her use of electronics in the jungle, writing: “Yes, I do have a smart phone (but no reception), laptop and internet made possible through a satellite connection. Necessary tools of communication and income. This means I can share with you what I see as an empowering urgent message. At this stage I can’t send you that message telepathically.”
She’ll have you know, per her Instagram, that her life has been “REALLY tough at times.”
Has there been drama around her before?
Ohhhhhhhh yes. In 2016, Elizabeth Ribar wrote an essay on XOJane accusing Freelee of bullying one of her “favorite” YouTubers, Pilates teacher Cassey Ho of Blogilates and POP Pilates. As an attempt to prove that the Banana Girl is rotten at her core, Ribar brought up the case of famous Australian fitness guru Kayla Itsines, who sued Freelee and her partner back in 2015 for defamation after they made a number of disparaging comments on their channels, insinuating that Itsines’s The Bikini Body Guide starves people and that Itsines’s boyfriend “pimps” her out and uses steroids.
It’s okay, she’s just trying to co-create a “new world” with us.