I was an OnlyFans sex worker – are you saying I shouldn’t use gyms?

In 2023, we are well versed in the post work out pic; you might pull up your sleeve to show a growing bicep, or pull down your leggings to reveal your hardening stomach. As long as we’ve had Instagram, people have used the platform to show off their body. It is a past-time that gyms often get credited for, as they are tagged in the work-out photos of their customers to show off what they’ve gone some way to help them achieve.

But what happens when you’re a sex worker?

According to some gyms, your occupation actually determines whether you should be giving their gym free promotion – or even be allowed a membership. When CrossFit Death or Glory were tagged in Stephanie Harrison’s post work-out pic on her private Instagram account (her account has a link to her OnlyFans profile), where she was wearing a crop top and leggings, the gym quickly revoked her membership – under the grounds that it would harm their reputation.

The gym owner reportedly sent Harrison a WhatsApp message which said: “What you do in your own time is completely up to you, however we as a business want absolutely no link to something like this.”

Having been an OnlyFans content creator myself, I am sadly not surprised by this alleged discrimination. Despite the global popularity of OnlyFans and its universalisation of the porn industry – everyone now can make some extra money from the safety of your home – sex work is still largely discriminated against. And despite many industries, including fitness, profiting off the promotion of body types that society deems sexy, some still attempt to exert control over how you use the body to promote a brand.

Even if you have never directly made money from selling your images for someone else’s sexual gratification, many of you will – whether you’re a gym bunny or not– have posted a “thirst trap”. Social media is full of gym pics and holiday pics. We do it with the attention of showing off. The only difference in this case is Stephanie’s job.

I guarantee that if Stephanie worked at a bank, she would not have had her membership revoked. In fact, the social media team probably would have asked permission to repost the picture.

Many people, even recreational porn users and the ones commenting on a bikini pic with flirtatious emojis, are not respectful to sex workers. They do not understand that choosing sex work does not give men the right to sexualise and objectify you.

When I first started my OnlyFans account, I had many old flames slide back into my DMs – assuming that because I’d chosen the sex industry, I must be up for sex all the time. But it’s like any other job: you still have working hours. And just like those with a 9-5, your personal sex life and your body are not inextricably tied to your job title.

Taking up online sex work opens the floodgates to a lot of online sexual harassment – even by those who are trying to be your clients.

When Harrison posted a picture of herself, showing off her physique, she did nothing wrong. In my eyes, it’s CrossFit Death or Glory that should be reconsidering their approach to their customers.

When they saw her link to an OnlyFans account, the gym chose to judge and shame her for her use of her body. Not only did CrossFit sexualise her post work-out picture (one of many they are most likely tagged in daily), it seems they chose to discriminate against her choice of profession. It reeks of hypocrisy.

Some of us sell our bodies for work more explicitly than others. But there are many other forms of work where selling our body is required to complete the job: from manual labour, restaurant work, modelling – even personal trainers. As it stands, currently 170 million people use OnlyFans, and in 2018 Pornhub was visited 33.5 billion times.

Suffice to say online sex work is not an industry which is in decline – and those who work in it, like I did, have the same right as everyone else to go about our daily lives, daily fitness routines (and even use social media) without judgement.

The Independent has approached CrossFit Death and Glory for comment.


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