CoconutKitty143: OnlyFans Creator Is Under Scrutiny for “Pedobaiting” - Rolling Stone
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An OnlyFans Creator Was Accused of ‘Pedobaiting.’ The Real Story Is More Complex

CoconutKitty143 has been criticized for editing herself to look like a minor, with some alleging that she is catering to pedophiles. But she describes her creation as a way to protect herself — and sell her art

instagram user coconutkitty143

Diana Deet's creation Coconutkitty143 (left), and a less edited picture of herself from her Instagram

Courtesy of @coconutkitty143

Back in 2018, Diana Deets, a cam performer, was burnt out. She’d been camming for a few years and had amassed 700,000 followers on Instagram — an impressive following, though not necessarily superstar status. But she was famous enough to be recognized when she went out in public, something that terrified her as a sex worker who highly valued her and her family’s privacy; plus, she was exhausted from performing long hours on cam and sick of fending off constant critiques about her face and body in real time while streaming. “I did get tired of people commenting on my looks when I was camming,” she tells Rolling Stone. “It kinda bothered me.”

An aspiring artist, Deets attempted to make a living by selling her acrylic paintings, but it wasn’t quite enough to totally supplement her income. “At that point, I was like, ‘How can I make money off my art?’ and that’s how I decided to do digital art,” she says. “And that’s how I created Coconut Kitty.”

“Coconut Kitty,” or @coconutkitty143, as she is known on Instagram, is a hugely popular Instagram model and creator on OnlyFans, a subscription-based platform popular among NSFW creators that allows influencers to directly monetize content. In her photos, Coconut Kitty’s face is essentially a heavily edited version of Deets’: She has enormous, saucerlike eyes, a smattering of freckles on her cheeks and nose, and cascades of mermaid-length hair. Significantly, she looks young — much younger than Deets herself, though Deets refused to reveal her real age to Rolling Stone, deeming it “irrelevant.” “I wanted to make something that looked like a real-life anime character — small chin, big eyes — that was made in my likeness, because I use a picture of myself and I edit it,” Deets explains. “I just wanted to create a fantasy, just a character. And I was able to hide my identity and still make money off my art.”

Deets says she wasn’t shy about the fact that she heavily edited her image, referring to her profession as “art and magic” in her Instagram bio and not deleting older photos on her page. She had some reservations about editing her own face to such an extent — mostly about promoting unrealistic or unhealthy beauty standards — but she figured all the big magazines used tools like Photoshop so why couldn’t she? Plus, using a heavily filtered version of her own face helped distance herself from some of the painful critiques she would get while camming. “Whether they say you’re pretty or ugly or your boobs are lopsided or this or that, it doesn’t matter because it was literally a character I created,” Deets says. Coconut Kitty “gave me an opportunity to disassociate myself” from the criticism.

The gambit worked: On Instagram alone, Coconut Kitty has amassed more than 3 million followers, and 11,000 on OnlyFans. But she says she never could have anticipated that by editing her photos to look younger, she would be accused of exploiting and grooming minors while receiving a barrage of death threats, and launching a conversation about internet minor safety and sex work. More broadly, the controversy surrounding Coconut Kitty’s Instagram presence has raised questions about the ever-fluctuating lines between fantasy and reality on social media, and the ethics of representing yourself as something you decidedly are not — even when, as an influencer with a large platform, misrepresentation is sort of, kind of, part of the gig.

“People are taking these pictures of me and creating a story they thought would go viral,” Deets says. “And they were right, and it did.”

@bekahdayyy

Creating fuel for p-words and profiting off of it doesn’t sit right with me. #AsSceneOnTubi #PrimeDayDealsDance #TubiTaughtMe #viral #fy #instagram

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Last June, a TikTok creator named Bekah Day was perusing Reddit’s “Instagram versus reality” forum to find content ideas for her page. A 24-year-old mom from Ohio, Day became popular on TikTok for her ongoing series with the same name, and she saw that a number of people had posted side-by-side photos of older photos of Deets, juxtaposed next to newer ones after she started going by Coconut Kitty.

Day tells Rolling Stone that she was shocked by how young Deets looked in the edited photos, particularly since she made a living making NSFW, sexually explicit content. Though her body looked like that of a fully mature woman, her face, Day thought, made her look like she was 14 or 15. “For me it posed the question: Does this [content] bait a certain demographic of people?” Day says. “She provides a look that is a woman’s body and a very young face. She is baiting slightly, I think, people who want to exploit children, and I think it can be very dangerous.”

Anyone familiar with the internet ecosystem knows that it’s common for creators to use apps to edit their photos, sometimes very heavily. Although there are many Instagram accounts calling out influencers for excessively depending on such tools, it’s essentially an open secret that influencers with a substantial number of followers do so. Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela, a computer-generated image with more than 3 million followers (who actually resembles Deets facially, though the team behind Lil Miquela does not post NSFW content), more explicitly toe the line between fantasy and reality.

Further, it’s common for young-looking (or even actual minor) creators to cater to followers’ barely-legal fantasies by posting highly sexualized images on the internet, “a very weird but also super popular current niche of a youthful face and a grown woman’s body,” says adult creator Jane Wilde. “It’s something that I see a lot of influencers doing with editing, and even the ones that are still underage like Malu [Trevejo],” a now-18-year-old Cuban singer with more than 10 million Instagram followers who has received extensive criticism for posting images of herself scantily clad. Another prominent example of this trend is Belle Delphine, the sex worker who famously sold “gamer-girl bathwater” and regularly wears fake braces and puts her hair in pigtails in her posts.

Yet Day thought that Deets’ content crossed a line. On June 24th, she posted a TikTok calling out Deets for “creating fuel for p-words [pedophiles] and profiting off of it,” alleging that she used FaceApp and Snapchat filters to “completely change her facial structure to look like a young teenager.” Day’s TikTok amassed more than three million views and prompted a wide range of responses, most of them condemning Deets by accusing her of catfishing pedophiles — a.k.a. “pedofishing” or “pedobaiting” — with her NSFW images. TikToker Neil Diemond made a video accusing Deets of using the “child” filter on FaceApp to edit her features, something Deets staunchly denies, saying she interpreted the allegation as a criticism of her editing skills: “I’m not gonna give away my full secrets of editing. However, I will say I do not use the child filter — I don’t use FaceApp,” she says. “My editing is done by hand. It didn’t look anything like it.”

Even antitrafficking crusaders on Instagram got in on the discussion, using the controversy surrounding Deets as an opportunity to further promote an anti-porn, anti-sex work agenda. Kate J. Oseen, an Instagram creator and anti-porn advocate with more than 64,000 followers who markets herself as an “anti-trafficking ally,” accused Deets of “grooming” underage young women on social media to join OnlyFans, citing a tweet she had posted asking models with more than 700,000 followers on Instagram to reach out to her for a “business opportunity.” “She catfishes young girls to think they can be on OnlyFans like her — grooming,” she said in her post. (Deets rejected the claim that she was “grooming” young women, saying she was looking for another model to co-host a car event with her, an event that she is publicly promoting on Instagram. “I wouldn’t do anything in an unsafe environment, and I wouldn’t attend myself if I was unsafe,” she says. “And I wouldn’t do that to someone else if it was unsafe for them.”)

But Wilde doesn’t think what Deets is doing falls into that category. “People get very ‘triggered’ when sex work and mainstream content intersect so I can see where the grooming allegations came from,” she says. “But I don’t think it’s fair to put that on a young woman who probably at the end of the day just has really severe self-image issues. To put a filter on yourself in every pic and video as an online influencer who posts a lot is probably exhausting.”

@coconutkitty143

Ultimately, this appears to be the real issue that people have with Deets’ content: not that it “baits” people who are attracted to minors, but that it speaks to a general cultural valorization of youth and beauty above all else, as well as the extreme pressures content creators face to adhere to increasingly youthful ideals of beauty. If you look at photos of Deets at the bottom of her Instagram feed, before she began posting as Coconut Kitty, what’s most striking is how incredibly beautiful she is without using any filters, even if she lacks the dewy, rosy-cheeked, hyperedited, Pixaresque features of her current persona. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would go to such great lengths to create these features, until you consider that many influencers of all ages spend either hours and hours editing or hundreds of thousands of dollars in surgery to attain them.

Many of the social media creators I spoke with expressed befuddlement that Deets went to such great lengths to metamorphose into Coconut Kitty without editing her earlier images of what she “naturally” looks like, thus lifting the curtain on the illusion (though to be fair, Deets says those earlier images are edited, too, just not to such an extreme degree). Deets says she left the earlier images up on social media on purpose, as a way to leave breadcrumbs to her fans as to the intent behind the character. She denies that Coconut Kitty stemmed from any deeply rooted self-esteem issues (though she admits she struggled with depression when she was younger, and the fact that she says she created the persona as a way to distance herself from the body criticism she received suggests it cut her much more deeply than she may be willing to admit).

Deets also believes that she is being unfairly singled out, particularly when she is far from the only influencer to edit her own image to such a degree. “Is there an actual ‘You can’t cross this limit on editing now? You can only do so much editing, and once you cross this line you’re in trouble?'” she says. “No, there are no rules in art. You don’t go, ‘Oh, you painted that wrong.’ I made a character that I thought was in my likeness anime-style, that I thought was pretty. It’s as simple as that.”

But of course, it’s never as simple as that, because even if Deets is not explicitly catering to people who are attracted to very young women — an audience that existed long before Coconut Kitty did — she is directly profiting off of this demand, and changing her image in fairly radical ways to do so. Whether or not it is intended as a performance-art piece of sorts or a clever obfuscation to protect her privacy is almost beside the point. When she was making her video, Day says, she often asked herself, “‘Why does she need to do this?’ [And] a lot of the answers come back to the market, the consumer, and [creators] doing things to appease that consumer.” As if to underscore that point, Deets says some people in her comments aren’t angry at her for “pedobaiting” or “pedofishing.” To them, the real ethical violation is her being an older woman, using widely available technology to masquerade as a younger woman. “I think why people are so mad is because it looks so real, but what is good art? What is a good realism art piece? It tricks the person looking at it, that it looks real,” she says.

By raising the curtain on the illusion once and for all, Deets says she’s not concerned about her business being affected; she hasn’t lost any followers, she says, and she’s still regularly posting photos as Coconut Kitty. She’s not worried about ruining the fantasy, because, she says, she was clear from the very beginning that’s exactly what it was. And besides, she says, “the fantasy is not made by me. It was made by the fans.”

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