Mia Khalifa: ‘My OnlyFans empowers me because I do things my way’ | People

When Mia Khalifa held a conference in Oxford last May at the invitation of the university’s students’ union, she had to confront her impostor syndrome. It’s unusual for a woman who owes her global fame to porn to be a respected voice at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. But it’s hard to imagine anyone who could speak more authoritatively on the topic at hand: the importance of the role of influencer and content creator, and the limits of privacy in the profession.

Ten years ago, Sarah Jo Chamoun accepted an offer from a co-worker at a fast food restaurant in Miami to sign with an adult film producer. Little did she know that just over two years and 37 films later, she would become a legend, the most popular actress on the most popular porn platform in the world, thanks in part to appearing in some scenes wearing a hijab. . She also did not know that in this way she had sold her body to the company forever and that she would never again be the owner of her own image. By the time she tried to get him back, it was too late: “I tried once, but about three years ago I stopped fighting for the case when the law firm I was working with pro bono warned me we wouldn’t get anywhere.” . : that the fight would take decades of my life, millions of dollars, and that even then there was no guarantee that I could beat them,” she explains, laughing and eloquently expressing her thoughts on the other side of the screen, where she appears in her bedroom, dressed in a simple tracksuit. Despite how difficult it was for her, Mia Khalifa eventually found a new path: She has her own space on OnlyFans (where she performs, not nude) and a body jewelry brand called Sheytan. “I found support in my friends. One of them, Sarah, helped me rationalize my feelings, maximize my dreams and fantasies, and see the future.”

LOUIS VUITTON dress, ACNE STUDIOS jeans, JUSTINE CLENQUET waist chain, SHEYTAN chain bra and bust chain. Photo: Fabien Montique / Styling: Nono Vazquez

Question: You said that you turned to porn at a very young age in search of money as well as self-esteem. Did this help you in the latter case? After all, you have become one of the most desirable women in the world.

Reply: Not at all. Because when trolls attack me with nasty comments on Twitter and use my photos, I don’t recognize myself in that person. And I feel sorry for her, for where she was morally and how little I loved and respected myself and how she tried to win the approval of others. I understand what you’re asking, if it was empowering in any way. And the answer is no. Maybe right now I feel empowered with my OnlyFans because I do things my way there, there’s no nudity, I don’t do what people expect when they go there. I post fun, beautiful photos that give me strength. I also feel strong when I block people who say mean things to me. It’s a great feeling to be able to say no or tell those who say “I can get it for free online” to fuck off. Big. Then go online and have a look.

Question: Why did you take a more humble route with OnlyFans?

I don’t like to call it modest. I think it’s a matter of preference. There are likely to be many more pressures and barriers for women of certain religious or social backgrounds than for others. And I don’t like those women who support the idea “Defend yourself with your brains, not your tits.” Shut up please! I’m also not saying that you can’t be pretentious about being naked on OnlyFans or being better than others. In fact, sometimes I don’t like to say this because I feel like some people might interpret that I’m saying that I’m better than those who say that, and that’s not true at all. I feel so comfortable now.

FENDI top, CAMPER LAB boots, SHEYTAN belt chain and thong. Photo: Fabien Montique / Styling: Nono Vazquez.

Question: Are you never going to take your clothes off again?

I’m really scared that my nudes will start circulating again, but lately, working in Europe, I feel good about creating artistically beautiful things and it gives me confidence that I can show more. Even when I was photographed without a top, I felt more comfortable because I didn’t feel overtly sexy. Either way, if anyone is sexualizing these photos, that’s their problem, not mine.

Question: Why do you think there are women like Jane Birkin who were never afraid to show themselves naked? What makes one woman relaxed and another not?

Well, I think Birkin’s relationship with transparencies is actually her legacy in Europe, where bare breasts aren’t sexualized or demonized to the same degree as they are in the United States. For you guys, it’s a more natural thing and it’s looked at completely differently. And then, as I said, it largely depends on personal preference. In her case, I think it was a matter of style, she felt comfortable in this effortlessly cool and sexy look.

Question: How did your upbringing influence your relationship with your body?

Well, I was much more modest than I am now, no doubt about it. I think that actually the deciding factor in the very bad decisions I made 10 years ago was how limited I was as a teenager. I wasn’t allowed to be free, I wasn’t allowed to express myself. And it made me very vulnerable to certain relationships and company that I shouldn’t have had and that I wanted to please. People liked me.

Question: Not anymore?

No, unfortunately, no.

ACNE STUDIOS coat, jeans and shoes, ÉTUDES long jacket and ALEX MOSS chains for SHEYTAN. Photo: Fabien Montique / Styling: Nono Vazquez

Mia Khalifa is an educated woman who expresses her thoughts with extraordinary clarity. When she lived in Beirut, her Catholic parents sent her to a French high school. Her family came to the United States to escape conflict in the south and settled in Maryland. Then she went to a military boarding school. “It was a very prestigious school with West Point hopefuls. It was an incredible learning experience. The facility was only a two hour drive from my home, so it sounds much more dramatic than it actually was. Yes, we had some military paraphernalia, such as parades and marches with weapons, but we did not serve the US government.” Later, in college, she studied history. “It wasn’t the smartest move because it’s impossible to get a job and they don’t get paid well. But when I was little, I liked history classes because reading those textbooks was like watching a movie. It seemed crazy to me that all of these things happened in real life and were documented. I was passionate about it. Even today, the books I like are historical biographies and non-fiction essays.”

COURRÈGES bomber and ACNE STUDIOS boots. Photo: Fabien Montique / Styling: Nono Vazquez

Question: Has awareness of the cyclical nature of history helped you in your life?

Well, right now I’m reading American Prometheus, the biography of (Robert) Oppenheimer on which Nolan’s film is based, and I’m struck by how relevant the story is today. This guy made a great discovery in the 1930s and spent his entire life warning us that we would be caught in a vicious cycle of nuclear terror from which we would never be able to escape. It’s scary, but it also helps us understand how important it is to know history and have conversations about it. It’s very difficult to live in a state like Florida where they want to erase history and have banned critical race theory. In public schools they are not allowed to teach children about the origins of slavery and how, essentially, slaves were denied social mobility even after slavery was abolished.

Question: When you were having problems with porn, did you think about leaving the US?

The truth is that when it all happened 10 years ago, America was the only place in the world where I felt safe, because one of the main catalysts for the outrage was the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. At that time, there were cartoons of me in the weekly magazine, and because of this, all the extremists on the Internet and Twitter were talking about me. It was terrible. I would say it was in 2021 when the Capitol Hill storming happened, at a time when I started to look at this country differently and realized that maybe the only thing that was really in store for us was lots of parking (laughs).

LOUIS VUITTON jacket and boots, SHEYTAN rings and earrings from Mia Khalifa’s personal collection. Photo: Fabien Montique / Styling: Nono Vazquez

Question: Do you have a partner at the moment?

I’m a serial monogamist and have been in three long-term relationships in my life, but I’m single now and I really like it because I don’t have to sacrifice anything in exchange for commitment. I have a group of friends who are my network, who I have a great time with and who protect me. Yes, sometimes I feel lonely, but there are battery-powered devices that can solve this problem (laughs).

Question: If you had to give advice to a 17-year-old girl who was about to sign a contract with her own image, what would you tell her?

Don’t sign anything that gives someone rights to something that’s yours forever. Never do this. Never. Don’t sign anything that says “forever.” Because it means that if the world ends, in the next universe you will still be sold. Especially if you can’t afford a lawyer.

Mia Khalifa

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