The World's Oldest Profession Gets a Makeover: Sex Work, OnlyFans, and Celebrity Participation


  • Sophie Sanchez


On August 19, 2020, celebrity Bella Thorne announced on social media that she would be making an OnlyFans account. In the first 24 hours after making her account, Bella Thorne earned $1 million. Founded in 2016, OnlyFans is a novel digital subscription service that has become home to thousands of sex workers— and a few celebrities that make millions of dollars per month. Although most people are engaged in sex work out of financial necessity, wealthy influencers and celebrities like Bella Thorne have joined the platform whilst perpetuating substantial earning gaps. Surrounding controversy, Bella Thorne argued that the publicity high-profile content creators bring to OnlyFans would destigmatize sex work. Given the centuries of criminalization, discrimination, exploitation, and stigmatization of sex work, should celebrities be on OnlyFans? Or will celebrity participation and media attention destigmatize sex work and ultimately improve conditions for marginalized sex workers?


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