Trigger Warning: This article contains explicit sexual content and language that may be triggering for some people.
Editor’s Note: This article details the experience of one individual and does not represent the industry as a whole.
* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee. All pictures used are generic and are not of the individual mentioned in this article.
The sugar baby industry is one that is shrouded in mystery and glamour. Characterised by young women going jet-setting, and expensive holidaying with rich older men, it has been notorious for attracting young students. In fact, it has been reported by the Mirror that with the rising costs of tuition fees and university living,there has been a surge of students signing up to become sugar babies. The sugar baby experience has often been told from the perspective of attractive young White women. Their stories have been told, and told again. However, what is it like to be a woman of colour in this industry? I took the time out to speak to Amethyst* on what it’s like to be a working class British Indian woman, who was thrust into this industry due to the lack of support she received from the government. Amethyst details a traumatic experience that was borne of desperation and poverty, but one that eventually led her to realise the woman she really wanted to be. Read below what she had to say.
Why did you become a sugar baby?
I had been homeless for a year when I was moved into social service’s emergency semi-independent accommodation. The girl who lived in the room next to mine was working in the industry and I became involved simply due to the influences of these very unhealthy and toxic characters.
I also had just turned 18 which means I was still being assessed after signing on for benefits, and was not contributing towards bills in the house. So after 3 to 4 months of struggling and starving, I decided to become a sugar baby. I had also just split from my ex-fiance, had not been enrolled for my A-Level exams, and had been kicked out of sixth form due to low attendance. All of this chaos combined, contributed to my decision.
Were you aware of the stigma attached to the role?
Yes there was always and will always be such a high stigma and double standard that surrounds all forms of sex work as a woman, and because of this I kept it a secret from almost everyone.
Were your friends or family aware that this is what you wanted to do? What was their reaction to it?
I only told 2 friends for my safety. I would send them live locations, and other details so that they knew I was safe. Additionally, I live in care and have no contact/communication with any family members, aside from my mother. Now, considering the reason I was in care, you can imagine how frail and broken any sort of relationship with my mother already was? However, my mum did eventually find out that I was a sugar baby a few months later, and she had the typical Asian Muslim mum reaction: pure disgust and disappointment above all.
They want the stereotypical sugar baby you always hear about: the silent, good girl type that they can take control of. It was about stroking their egos as much as you could.
How did you find a sugar daddy?
I used websites and apps in particular. The website I was most comfortable using was Seeking Arrangements because it was the most common, safe, and well-known platform. It was honestly such a long and exhausting process. I generally hate the “talking stage”, so this was a nightmare for me because I had to kiss up to the privileged, insecure, busy, unloved men – who were mostly White – of the world. They want the stereotypical sugar baby you always hear about: the silent, good girl type that they can take control of. It was about stroking their egos as much as you could.
However, I could never let my guard down because I had to protect myself.
One word to describe the overall experience?
Other-wordly, exhilarating, and terrifying.
How much money did they usually offer to pay you?
They will offer the lowest they can get away with. Most will say £100 for me to spend a night with them, failing to realise that this is not a prostitute site. It is for escorts and sugar babies.
If I did anything like suck their dick, I would say “if you want me to suck your dick then you must give me….. “ and once everything is agreed then I would go ahead with the plan. One man met me and offered an extra £750-£800 just to talk to me first. But each man is very different, some prefer to speak on the phone before meeting, some don’t. Some meet at coffee places first, some don’t.
What expectations did he have of you?
Every man has an idea of their ideal woman, in and out of bed. But I can say for a fact that every single man knew what he wanted specifically from the sugar baby, be it looks, body shape, amount of makeup, heel height, weight, specific appearance features etc. Most would always demand someone ambitious and hard-working. They don’t want lazy bums who are just gold diggers. It boosted their ego to have someone who needs them such as a student as opposed to a working woman who already has a salary or a partner who pays the bills. They just couldn’t handle just being there for a woman’s fun and convenience, they wanted to be the saviour of the damsel in distress.
Did you have any expectations from your sugar daddies?
Hell no. My only expectation each time was to end up dead, raped, hospitalized, or something very bad. In this situation I definitely did not expect any good, that is for sure.
Were there many negative experiences?
All of them. It was traumatising due to the lack of safety and security in being out late alone. I didn’t have enough money in my account for months due to the benefit system taking almost 5 months before my first payment after I turned 18, so if a client did not fulfil their promise to get me a cab home then I would be stranded in possibly a very far away area.
There was one person whose beard was so rough that when he kissed me, it was so harsh, it scraped off several layers of skin from my chin which took several weeks to heal properly, and it was very sore.
Going to people’s houses, men’s houses, where you don’t know anyone is dangerous for a woman at any age, and I was only 18. I could have been raped, injured, kidnapped, murdered, trafficked, any number of things which is the reality at the end of the day, and this always is at the back of your head as you do these reckless things.
Did you ever feel like your experience of being a sugar baby was different as a woman of colour? Were you ever fetishised or treated differently?
I’d just get the additional comments about being exotic or spicy. A lot of Asian males would ask for discounts as I am Indian. I got a lot more invasive questions about where I’m from, my ethnicity, what I do, where I live and other probing questions.
Do you think that a lot of sugar daddies have similar expectations about the kind of sugar baby they’re looking for? Race, weight etc.
I think most do have the same “taste”, mainly due to pornography. Most enjoyed rough sex (again due to normalisation of rough sex in pornography), but then you have the few that love being slapped, or some who loved golden showers, and others that don’t. Everyone has their kinks and preferences and that definitely includes race, weight, sexual orientation, religion even. Most want the typical athletic, blonde, slim White girl, or they wanted the curvy, exotic type like me. They rarely ever settle for something in the middle.
Did you feel pressure to look or act a certain way?
Yes, to be more grown-up than I was at the time. I was still a kid. I knew I had to act confident so I wasn’t taken advantage of and perceived as weak and vulnerable.
Has it changed your expectations in a relationship?
Yes, it taught me a lot about the kind of man I needed and wanted in my life. It is especially important for me to feel as though my future partner can accept this part of my past, my choices, how much of me is within these decisions. Ironically, it led me to realise what true love and respect is. At the time I had lost all sense of love and respect for myself. It taught me to not allow a man’s words and actions to dictate and define my view of myself and my life. I think this is because one of the main driving forces of becoming a sugar baby was pain as my ex had stated “I was just a sex toy”. I truly believed what he said, and it led me down this dark path.
Do you think being a sugar baby has been more lucrative than a normal 9 to 5 job? Absolutely. I would work once or twice a week and be well off with money.
What have you learnt from this experience? Were there any positives?
I learnt how to handle myself and males better, as well as how to safely explore life and sex.
There was a positive impact in my personal life, mindset and journey. The reasons I had gone into sugar-babying was very toxic as it was out of pain and anger. My family when I went into care cursed at me in many ways and one of the things they said that stuck with me was that I’d become a prostitute and be worthless. Alongside my ex-fiance calling me a “sex toy”, I just gave in and conformed to their opinions of me. The experience taught me that those people had too much power over me, that I am not those things, that I have more worth than I thought.
Another thing it showed me is that I was headed down a really bad path in life in every aspect. Seeing all those White men at the top with all that money and no sense of value for it pissed me off. It made me realise that instead of relying on these rich men, I could become a “rich man” myself to be self-reliant.
This experience was maybe one of the worse ones I had to have but it ended up being a twisted blessing in disguise. It has stopped me from living a much worse lifestyle for a much longer time. It reminded me how I was raised, and who I am capable of being and more importantly who I want to be.
Amethyst’s experience is a powerful story of female empowerment that we can all learn from. It is possible for women to find the power within themselves even in the darkest moments. Although the sugar baby industry is often a brutal and challenging environment, it is inspiring to see the growth and positivity that Amethyst took from it. She is no longer a damsel in distress, but instead a damsel who saved herself.