“Since I was 20-years old, I’ve gone back and forth between being a stripper and a sugar baby. Usually, this is so empowering, and I just think f### men…” says 27-year-old Palmar Kelly, who recently authored an essay about her experience as a ‘sugar baby’.
According to Wikipedia, sugar dating, also called sugaring, is a “pseudo-romantic transactional sexual relationship between an older wealthy person and a younger person. Payment can be received by way of money, gifts like designer goods, jewellery, support or other material benefits in exchange for companionship or a dating-like relationship.”
The person who receives the gifts is dubbed the ‘sugar baby’ and their paying partner is called a ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar mama’.
‘Sugaring’ is a controversial topic and resides in a grey area, legally.
Woman shares her experience as a sugar baby
After moving from her hometown in Florida to New York City to pursue acting in 2015, 27-year-old Palmar Kelly says that she struggled to make ends meet, adding that conventional jobs weren’t to her liking and that she couldn’t see herself following the routine and rote of a regular 9-5. That’s when she knew she wanted to become a sugar baby…
Kelly signed up to a ‘sugaring’ website in 2016 and began chatting to sugar daddies.
She explains that initially, her idea was to pursue one ‘sugar daddy’ to take care of her financially. However, the worry of doing something to upset the payer (for example, not consenting to his actions) would stop him from paying, so she decided to commit to more than one person.
In her essay published to Insider, Palmar Kelly writes:
“People often look down on being a sugar baby. I feel like they see it as dark and pathetic, like it’s the lowest of the low. Sometimes other people’s perceptions of the job made me think that I should feel bad about it, and that maybe there was something wrong with me or I should be doing something else.”
Despite the criticism, Palmar has wavered between being a stripper and a sugar baby for seven years now.
In 2021, she met a sugar daddy who, along with a group of other ‘sugar babies’ took Palmar on a trip to a “sex castle”.
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There, the group got along so well, they decided to start posting about their experiences of sugaring online, to de-mystify and de-stigmatise the role of a sex worker in society.
In her essay, Kelly writes:
“…That was the most fun trip of my whole life. The girls that I met made me realize how fun life could be. We decided we wanted to make it our mission to make sure other people didn’t feel bad about themselves for doing this job.”
@palmarkellyySomeones gotta do it 😈♬ Prada – cassö & RAYE & D-Block Europe
Now, Palmar posts content to enlighten viewers about the journey and misconceptions of being a sex worker, and plans on writing a TV show about it.
“I now live in Los Angeles, and I’ve been writing a TV show about being a sugar baby. I am hoping that posting TikTok videos will help me to sell it, and address society’s misconceptions about my lifestyle.”
The journey hasn’t been short of challenges for Palmar.
She has struggled with being banned and locked out of her TikTok account – which has racked up over 150, 000 followers and 2.5 million likes – for posting content that goes against TikTok’s community standards ie. “promoting sexual activities.”
She now operates from a backup account on TikTok, but still faces the threat of being banned. She says:
“It feels frustrating that I have to start again. As a sex worker, I feel like it’s already very difficult to have a voice in the world, and I tried hard to be the voice of reason for a lot of sex workers on the platform and dispel misconceptions about my work, such as the outlandish amounts of money we’re sometimes reported to make.”
She says the messages and comments that she gets from users who reach out in support inspires her to continue with her work.
On her TikTok account, Palmar frequently posts videos of her ‘sugar baby dates’ where she gives viewers a glimpse of what these interactions are actually like. According to Kelly, in the footage she posts, dates often look fun but in her voiceovers, she always reflects on how she actually felt on the date, which often isn’t as glamorous as it looks.
When it comes to Palmar’s sugar daddies consenting to be featured in her videos, she says:
“The guys I date know that I’m on social media, and I always ask if I can film my dates with them. A lot of men that reach out to me like that I’m online and that I’m sharing the experience. They think it’s a fun thing and they want to be part of it.”
Despite pursuing an unconventional avenue of work, Palmar says that she has never been shamed for what she does from people in her personal life, but it’s the judgemental comments from users online who shame and criticise her that get to her head.
However, being a sugar baby has brought her closer to turning her dreams into a reality.
“Posting about this online is the only thing that’s brought me anywhere closer to my career and my dreams.” she says.
Her hope is also for herself and others in her line of work not to feel ashamed.
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In March 2022, Palmar started a podcast, ‘Selling Sex‘ and her first episode features her journey – from embarking on a mission to pursue acting and becoming a sex worker, as well as how she sees her work being translated into TV.
Feature Image: Instagram / @palmweezy