Bella Thorne is a name many may never have heard of. That was until the 22-year-old decided to jump on OnlyFans sell her lewd images, bank $2 million , then boast about her exploits.

Many young female celebrities have gone down this road before, either through self-determination or from pressure coming from ‘above’. Miley Cyrus for example,  whom like Thorne, rose to prominence through Walt Disney before subsequently spending time trying to break the shackles of her good girl image. But what sets Thorne apart from others is how her actions have been met by others.

In the space of just one week, Bella Thorne amassed $2 million  by charging $200 for ‘nudes’ to her 50, 000 strong subscriber base. However, these ‘nudes’ turned out to be nothing more than the young celebrity posing in sexy lingerie.

Thorne later tried to claim that she was merely researching for a role she recently landed in a film set to be directed by Sean Baker.

“It’s a feature we are researching as I’m living it currently,” Thorne explained via text message. “What are the ins and outs? What does a platform like this do to its creators ? What’s the connective material between your life and your life inside the world of OnlyFans?

How can it change your life for the worse and the better? How far are you willing to go, and how far do you WANT to go? You can be me, or this talented girl from Montana, and OnlyFans could change your life — if you want it to, of course.”

 These claims were later denied by Baker whom took to twitter to saying I would like to make it clear that news of me making a film documentary or fiction narrative about OnlyFans and using Bella Thorne as research is false. I’m not attached to this project.”

“Earlier this month I had a conversation with Thorne and discussed a possible collaboration in the far future that would focus on her life and the circumstances leading to her joining OnlyFans. On that call I advise the team to consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this so as to NOT hurt the sex work industry.

“This is the extent of my involvement.”

Criticism has been thrown at Bella from sex workers, media and keyboard warriors alike- with Thorne offering to donate the $2 million  to charity, however that has not been enough to quell public outrage. But how justified is this anger?

Bella Thorne’s use of OnlyFans isn’t any different from any other workers use of OnlyFans. Sex work isn’t conditional on the financial need of the worker – the only thing someone needs to be a sex worker is to engage in selling sexual services.Kristen Jadea Melbourne based sex worker and OnlyFans creator told Star Observer.

Sexual services have a fairly nebulous definition within the community, however if we include non-explicit models in the current working definition, the question arises – how is Bella Thorne’s work any different?

OnlyFans has deviated from its original purpose and has become the number one site to sell online sexual services . Starting an account on a site primarily known for sexual services and selling ‘lewds’ makes Bella Thorne a sex worker – regardless of her perceived lack of financial need.

 For every action, there of course comes consequences. Following Thorne’s escapades OnlyFans moved quickly to clamp down on the sites policies.

Previously there was no maximum amount on how much creators could charge for exclusive content nor was there a cap on tips. Not only have these now both been capped at $100, the site also pivoted from paying users weekly to monthly.

Bella sold a $200 ‘pay-to-view’ message, meaning each of her fans had to pay $200 to view the image. She implied she was fully nude in this image. Kristen explains. Perhaps she was fully naked, but she used her body to cover her breasts and vulva. I believe this led to a surge of ‘chargebacks’ where users call their bank and refund the money paid to OnlyFans.

Shortly after this, in an apparent unaffiliated event, OnlyFans reduced the message price limit and the tip limit. Many believe this is a direct result of Bella Thorne’s message, leading to accusations of Bella ruining and gentrifying the site, rather than blaming OnlyFans for reducing income opportunities, explained Kristen.

 In the middle of a global pandemic, and when sex workers are unable to work in the traditional sense, platforms such as OnlyFans provides this industry a vital platform for income generation. 

Thorne offered those she had offended a public apology, claiming she only “wanted to bring attention to the site, [and that] the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalise the stigmas. And in trying to do this I hurt you.”

Reflecting on this public apology, Kristen said.

I believe her apology is sincere, but her intentions were misguided. I do not believe her sole intent was to bring awareness to the platform. She previously made statements implying she was trying to learn how to become rich off it, despite her already considerable wealth.

We also cannot ignore the fact she was liking the whorephobic comments her sister made on Instagram. However, I can understand wanting to use a sizeable platform to help reduce stigma against a community often fighting to simply be heard.”

 When a measured look at both sides of this situation is taken, the question remains, who is the biggest of two evils? Bella Thorne for her tone deaf but perhaps forgivably misguided actions? Or OnlyFans, a corporation which took the first opportunity it could to clamp down on the liberty and self-determination of sex workers in a move which will adversely affect some 50 million OnlyFans creators the world over?

Kristen concluded by saying, “blaming Bella Thorne is easy. She’s a face we all know, and a singular person to direct our ire towards. But the real issue is the website’s lack of a technical department and support for sex workers. At the end of the day, while it’s easy to blame a singular person and make a woman the scapegoat for the hate, the real issue is a site that has shown it will only barely tolerate sex workers until it’s more profitable to kick them off.

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