Why Sex Workers Are Furious About Bella Thorne’s OnlyFans Account

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This was the video posted on Bella Thorne’s Instagram account announcing that the actress was starting an OnlyFans account.  

And within less than a week of being on OnlyFans, the ex-Disney star raked in over 2 million US dollars. 

But her appearance on the platform has thrown it into chaos and damaged the livelihoods of sex workers relying on that income.  

What Was The Big Issue?

So, what was the big issue with Thorne making an account? And what does this story say about the way that OnlyFans are treating the sex workers that have helped to build their site’s popularity?  

Thorne made her name on the Disney channel acting alongside Zendaya on the show Shake It Up 

In the past couple of years she’s turned to producing less family friendly content and directed a short film with Pornhub 

So when she announced that she was going to launch an OnlyFans account, she had already built up a huge audience to follow her to the site.  

Thorne began offering pay-per-view photos for $200 each that fans bought, believing they would be nude images.  

They weren’t. 

It led to a massive onslaught of refund requests and OnlyFans have now changed the rules for content creators across the whole platform. 

OnlyFans Have Now Changed The Rules

They’ve set caps on the amount people can charge for those pay-per-view photos and are slowing down their payment terms so that content creators are getting their money 30 days later, instead of a week after it’s received by the site.  

OnlyFans have denied that it has anything to do with Thorne, but it’s still a painful moment for the sex workers relying on this income.  

Lucie Bee: It adds another level of stress that I just don’t think anyone needed right now. Especially for workers that are just getting started with online content and who are really relying on this, on the basis that so many sex workers are having to make the transition from inperson work to online, because of COVID. 

That’s Lucie Bee, she’s a sex worker and OnlyFans content creator. 

Lucie told me that it’s been really disappointing seeing a mainstream celebrity step into this universe without consulting with sex workers and understanding the consequences of her actions.  

Thorne’s since apologised for what happened on OnlyFans and claimed on Twitter that she was trying to dispel stigma about sex work. 

LB: We don’t need mainstream celebrities to normalise sex work. There’s plenty of people in this industry and we kind of need to normalise the faces and the people that are already here. 

The situation with Thorne has also compounded problems that sex workers were already facing with OnlyFans. Lucie told me that it exposes how the platform isn’t willing to look after its content creators.   

LB: I don’t think they were unaware of the impact of this [change in policy], and their actions in the past 24 or 48 hours on our community in particular. I think the fact that they’ve proceeded with that [change in policy] regardless, is really concerning. 

Certain parts of sex work are already censored on OnlyFans and Lucie is worried about what will happen to workers as the site seems to be pushing towards more mainstream content.  

She’s actually been uploading content to other up-and-coming sites like it, to protect her income in case something like this happens again.  

Lucie told me that she hopes both OnlyFans and stars walk away from this with an understanding, that the sex worker community needs to be consulted about the specific problems they’re facing, because they don’t share the same privilege as mainstream celebrities like Thorne.  

LB: A lot of people right now – especially influencers and celebrities – are diving into this sex work adjacent space, and they could stop that tomorrow and go back to their lives and be perfectly ok. We as a community, don’t have that choice. This is our work. We do rely on it to pay our bills  I would love to see more sort of, mainstream individuals with big platforms, big networks, throwing their voices behind and amplifying the voices of the community and of sex workers. 

The Takeaway 

Bella Thorne’s appearance on OnlyFans was a decision that ignored sex workers and displayed the actress’s privilege, at a time where workers are relying on online incomes more than ever.  

But this situation also shows that OnlyFans itself isn’t considering the needs of its own content creators. And it’s really thrown the future of the site into questionif the relationship between sex workers and the platform is broken.