By Jess Johnson
Close your web-cams and your wallets — Bella Thorne is on the loose once again.
Childhood Disney Channel star Bella Thorne made headlines Aug. 19, after joining OnlyFans, an adult website that allows its users to make and sell their own adult content, by being paid by members through a subscription-based service. Racking up a reported $1 million in one day, Thorne set the record for the most earned by any OnlyFans creator on their first day. Within the next week, she had earned $2 million by charging each viewer $20 to access her page, according to The Guardian.
Within her OnlyFans page is suggestive imagery such as bikini photos, her eating a hot dog — but nothing explicitly graphic, reported by The Times. So, nothing too racy.
The problem with this? Well, another big celebrity — with an estimated net worth of $12 million — may have ruined the livelihood of young sex workers on the platform.
“To witness a celebrity gentrifying a platform and making obscene amounts of money without acknowledging the plight of sex workers is truly a slap in the face,” Aussie Rachel, a sex worker and OnlyFans creator, said in a Rolling Stone interview.
Many female sex workers rely on OnlyFans as thier main source of income, and a way to have control over their own bodies pertaining to who can see it online. OnlyFans is a platform filled with passionate and controlled content, without a manipulative industry that benefits from exploiting women. After Thorne pulled a stunt that put restrictions on these workers’ careers, the fury from the public was a fire no one could put out.
Thorne began charging subscribers for pay-per view nudes, claiming she would post full nudity photos priced at $200 to more than 50,000 subscribers. The main issue is many of these subscribers believed her and bought them. In reality, they were just photographs of her wearing risky lingerie.
It remains a mystery, the reason behind why this many people would spend that sum of money to see Bella Thorne naked anyway.
Of course, customers complained and demanded refunds, causing OnlyFans thousands of processing fees and chargebacks. Due to the overwhelming amount of backlash OnlyFans received from subscribers, the company created new restrictions including putting limits on creators to charge up to $50 for exclusive content and accept tips up to only $100. Before Thorne’s detrimental mishap, there wasn’t a max amount on either fee. There also wasn’t the rule that creators would get paid monthly instead of weekly, a policy that now puts a strain on sex workers’ wallets.
Creators on OnlyFans receive only 80 % of their subscription revenue. Lowering the price ceiling of sex-workers content limits thier main income, as well as cheapening the value of thier individually produced content. It sends a message to women that their bodies aren’t good enough and that a max value should be put on how one may look. This also makes it difficult for subscribers to show their amount of individual support.
Many women who have been laid off from their jobs amidst COVID-19, have turned to the app as their main source of income to stay afloat.
“Previously, the funds you made on OF were only pending for a week, so most creators get paid at least once a week,” twitter user and OnlyFans creator Erika Heidewald said Aug. 28. “Imagine suddenly going from a weekly paycheck to a monthly paycheck. That’s what’s happening to 450,000 content creators.”
Another Twitter user felt passionately disgusted by Thorne’s actions. User @Sairaspooks stated Aug. 27:
“Bella thorne f—d over so many sex workers, I am so sick of celebrities. The entire tipping system just changed and got a huge price cap because she scammed thousands of people. Absolutely ridiculous.”
There was no reason for Thorne to make an OnlyFans account, when she has enough income to be comfortable practically for the rest of her life.
Now, amongst an active struggling community of young adult workers, many have spoken out on social media platforms such as Twitter concerning their disgust with Thorne’s actions. In turn, she defended herself Aug. 28, by tweeting:
“I’m meeting with OnlyFans about the new restrictions to find out why! This is f—d up, and I’m sorry. Comment any ideas or concerns you want to bring up to OnlyFans! And send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys!”
What gives Thorne the right to speak on behalf of actual sex workers? Maybe the issue wouldn’t be an issue in the first place, if you weren’t so selfish Thorne.
Instead of Thorne discussing Only Fans and coming up with a solution for workers’ pockets over the last two weeks, she has instead been promoting her new performance in the Netflix film that premiered Sept. 10, “The Babysitter: Killer Queen.”
“The babysitter is number one on Netflix! I love you guys, thank you,” Thorne said Sept. 11.
The popularity of the film is not because of your performance Thorne, that’s for sure.
Before her tweet exposing her new success of The Babysitter: Killer Queen, there has been nothing discussed on her account @bellathorne of how she has helped the situation.
“Bella Thorne, quick to tell everyone she’s looking into the issue with OnlyFans, and then post about her movie with no response since her hiatus,” online sex worker Vera Mambi tweeted Sept. 13. “So are we pretending this never happened now?”
And still, nothing has been publicly stated by Thorne.
Celebrities need to learn to take accountability for their mistakes, not make excuses for why they happened. Thorne’s excuse for her sudden presence on the platform was due to her desire to collect research for a future film role, she stated to Los Angeles Times. She also revealed that she was developing a film that chronicles how OnlyFans affects people’s lives in a Tweet Aug. 28. After claiming to be working with director Sean Baker, the filmmaker posted a statement on his account @Lilfilm debunking it.
“I would like to make it clear that the news of me making a film about OnlyFans and using Bella Thorne as research is false. I’m NOT attached to this project,” Baker said. “I’m an ally and have literally devoted my career to tell stories that remove stigma and normalize lifestyles that are under attack. I would never do anything that could possibly hurt the community.”
Baker also explains that he had a conversation with Thorne earlier that month about a future film collaboration that would focus on her life and the circumstances leading her to making an OnlyFans. Not a documentary about causing the downfall of sex workers’ lives.
It honestly seems like Thorne is just trying to cover her tracks. Meanwhile, workers have been trying to swim out of the economic turmoil she put them in.
OnlyFans worker Kai Chi, had a rapid decrease in her weekly income. The new OnlyFans policy changes meant a reduction in income, and a delay in payments for many sex workers on the site, which she unfortunately experienced almost immediately. The pending $3,661.70 in tips Chi received from doing two private shows the week prior, was charged back to her subscribers due to OnlyFans new limitations. Her account began to suffer greatly, with a remaining pending balance of $186.60.
“How could you let this happen to your content creators @bellathorne?” Chi tweeted. “This is the aftermath of your actions. This is how a real sexworker is affected.”
In order to help the situation, Thorne claims she’ll be dividing her OnlyFans account profits between funding her production company — for a film that isn’t happening — and to charity.
The craziest part of it all, is that’s her only solution. And, probably won’t happen.
OnlyFans confirmed to Vulture, an online publication, that any changes to transaction limits are not based on any one user and that transaction limits are set to help prevent overspending. This allows users to continue to use the site safely.
Yet, it sounds like Thorne still needs to take responsibility for making OnlyFans into some kind of joke, so much so that “all of a sudden,” the company had to set severe restrictions.
Put down the blue eyeliner and open your purse, Thorne. There’s hell to pay.