Sometimes when you wake up feeling a lil’ bit cynical about the 9-5 slog, you just need to quit your job, take off your clothes, throw out all the food in your cupboard, move to the South American jungle and live off-grid, completely naked, eating only fruits and vegetables you’ve grown on your own land.
It’s really that simple.
You see, ever since moving from Adelaide to the jungle six months ago, Youtuber Freelee the Banana Girl (real name Leanne Ratcliffe), has claimed that a majority of the problems we face in Western civilisation can be entirely resolved by literally moving to another country to have a ‘minimalist life’ while simultaneously posting regularly about said life on social media.
The 37-year-old, who has previously attracted a great deal of attention for her rejection of conventional science (she’s previously claimed ‘chemo is killing us,’ and ‘menstruation is toxicity leaving the body’), as well as her alleged ‘bullying’ tactics towards those who don’t embrace an entirely vegan lifestyle, now says she is “freer than ever in life”.
Although it’s seldom, I still feel the pressure to conform in society, to shave my legs and underarms, to paint my face and look a certain way to others. This western self-obsession is a powerful dis-ease to shake. Some days I strut confidently, other days I pick at my insecurities, but everyday I move forward with strong purpose. I sometimes see that look of disgust from certain others at my hairy armpits and legs but I always remind myself – that person is not part of my tribe. Would I really want to spend my valuable time with someone who feels that way? About body hair? A person who thinks I’m disgusting as my natural self? Heck no! ????♀️Girls, remember, your body hair is a gift, it’s protective and part of your being, but maybe best of all it’s also a powerful natural fuckboi repellent.????#gofreeyourself
“11 years ago I renamed myself Freelee during a waterfast because freedom is what I hold most sacred in life,” she wrote on Instagram in February.
“Since then I’ve been shedding the layers that hold me back. I freed myself from the 9-5 slave drive and moved to the jungle.
“I spend most of my day nude; free of restrictive clothing. 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.”
She doesn’t use makeup, doesn’t shave, doesn’t watch television, disapproves of shops and cars, uses a self-built composting toilet, lives in a tent and all electricity she uses is 100 per cent solar powered. She also wants to be naked all the time to “celebrate my birth-day body in my natural surroundings” and loves how comfortable tribeswomen are with their bodies, even though, she notes, they have “saggy breasts”.
When people try to accuse Freelee of slightly exaggerating her life ‘off the grid’, she gets very annoyed. “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 recently. “Not quite hunny. In reality I’ve been living in a simple tent for many months, through monsoonal rains and gale force winds.”
Obviously this is my favourite thing that has happened on the Internet in recent times, and because I’m just moments away from burning my clothes and
flying walking to South America (in terms of your carbon footprint, one international flight is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of driving), I just want to explore for a moment a few things that don’t quite make sense about Freelee the Banana Girl’s ‘off-grid’ life in South America.
1. This car she’s driving in a Youtube video from March.
2. This house she appears to have been living in two months ago that doesn't look all that much like a tent.
3. Nah, it really doesn't look like she's been living in a tent. While is FINE. Just don't say you've been living in a tent.
4. The high-speed internet connection that allows her to upload regular YouTube videos, and run her Instagram, website, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
5. The seemingly unnecessary nudity.
6. This electricity pylon.
7. This very capitalist shop her partner apparently shops in.
8. Her recent-model smart phone.
9. Actually it's not even the unnecessary nudity that's strange... it's all the photos of the nudity.
10. Her photo editing software.
11. THE ENTIRELY CAPITALIST WAY SHE MAKES HER INCOME.
Of course, Freelee the Banana Girl can define 'off-grid' however she likes - and if that means living naked in the jungle while maintaining her online business, that's fine. For me, the bigger source of discomfort comes from the meaning she derives from this off-grid lifestyle. That it's clean, and pure, and living it makes you beautiful and slim (which is, by implication, natural and morally good).
She wants those who follow her to "go free", and says, "We are creating a beautiful natural life here and I want to inspire you do the same."
But the life she wants us to aspire to is a life not even she is living.
Most of us do not have the luxury of moving to the South American jungle to find inner peace, and probably wouldn't feel entirely comfortable being naked the whole time. Most of us also probably wouldn't be able to eat 51 bananas a day (and nothing else), as Freelee the Banana Girl (hence the name) famously claimed to do in 2014.
That doesn't mean we have no discipline or we've failed or our morals are abhorrent. It means we're human.
Just like Freelee and her tent that looks very much like a house.