Skip to main site content.
Sex workers take part in a demonstration on June 5, 2015 at the Trocadero square in Paris, to denounce a bill on prostitution. FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

Risks & benefits

A sex worker’s dilemma: Show your face, or keep your identity hidden?

By WITW Staff on September 13, 2016

As sex workers across the country promote themselves through online profiles, many are forced to decide whether or not they will show their faces online.

Newsweek spoke to several escorts about the benefits and drawbacks of revealing their faces in online photos. Some refuse to blur their identities because they hope that “coming out” in a public way will help destigmatize sex work and hasten the decriminalization of prostitution.

There are more pragmatic considerations too. “My income like doubled when I showed my face,” Hilary Holiday, an escort from Minneapolis, told Newsweek.

“I kind of got addicted to showing.”

But many escorts decide that the risks of revealing their faces online are simply too high to make it worthwhile. Though Amnesty International has recommended the widespread decriminalization of sex work, sex workers are still susceptible to arrest. Police can use social media profiles to identify and entrap women (and men) in the industry. Hilary Holiday, in fact, was arrested after police matched pictures on her website to her driver’s license photo.

Escorts must also consider the impact that their job can have on their personal lives. One Canadian college student, who was identified only as “Delilah,” told Newsweek that she obscures her face in online profiles so her conservative Muslim family does not find out about her sex work. She also expressed concern that working as an escort could hurt her future employment prospects, should her true identity surface.

“I would certainly get a lot more clients [if I showed my face],” Delilah said.“I wish we lived in a world where I could show my face.”

Read the full story at Newsweek.