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Showing Face

Pros and cons

· Behind the Curtain,Dear Clients,Resources

This one is by request! Feel free to link to it on your website (with appropriate credit), or send it to clients when they whine at you about why you don't show your face, or ask "aren't you afraid of your parents finding out?" when you are face out or other such nosy questions. I'm sure you've all noticed by now, I don't show my face. I promise all of my clients that I'm not an utter hag, but often they are still concerned that they won't be attracted to me, and insist upon an image of my face, which I have to refuse (read my reviews, I think a few mention that I'm not too hard on the eyes!). I wrote a bit about this in a previous post, but I've chosen to expand upon it as it seems like this is a topic with some interest.

Friends and Family

I come from a pretty accepting family myself - in fact, I'm pretty sure my mother is aware of what I do, because mums always know, and she's been asking some odd questions - but I'm still not officially out as a sex worker to them. As far as they know, I work in a boring office job in Canberra, and that's all I do. I don't own heaps of new and expensive stuff, so they're not wondering where I'm getting all this income all of a sudden. My father works in a role that has a lot to do with digital management, so me being face out might be detrimental to his work environment; he has pictures of us together on his Facebook, so people know I'm his daughter, and the last thing I'd want is for him to be uncomfortable at work because his colleagues found out what I do.

This certainly isn't everyone's situation - in fact, most people have parents who call them up for tech support because they forgot to plug the mouse in (the struggle). They do, however, have friends and other family members who might stumble across it and show them - not everyone has the tact to understand that they should keep these things to themselves. There's also the question of people you know finding your ads, and believing that sex work is wrong, so they go on a crusade to tell people about your sinful side hustle. I'm sure it's been discussed at length in other circles why sex work isn't wrong or immoral, so I won't bother with that can of worms.

I know several sex workers whose partner's jobs might be affected - those with clearances, those in the military or police force or other male dominated jobs where slut shaming is still a fun pastime, those with government positions. Some have children in schools who would not look kindly upon having the child of a whore in their midst. Some have extremely conservative families with religious backgrounds who would quite literally disown them if they found out - and honour killing is not off the table with some conservative cultures.

That said, there are plenty of workers who are face out, and they have weighed up those risks for themselves. They've got thick enough skin to handle the pointed questions from former coworkers, friends, and family with grace, constantly reminding them that this is a job that they chose, or simply shutting them out if they're not worth replying to.

Current Employment

I work full time in a boring 9-5 that is filled with the exact demographic of men who might employ me for my sex work services, but they don't know that I do it. I'm sure my boss would not look favourably upon me doing sex work at all, but even less so if he knew that I was face out and could be found by clients of our company. I'd rather not get fired just for doing something I enjoy and use to get ahead in this terribly unequal economy. Many other sex workers also have full time or part time jobs that they'd like to keep, especially in a post-FOSTA world where making enough money to pay rent is much harder in this industry.

Rebranding comes under this heading too. It's so much easier to switch from "Heather" to "Joy" with a whole new rates structure and vibe if you have no face. That said, lots of face out workers make the switch and change nothing but their hair - some clients who have hired both personas don't even notice...

Future Employment Prospects

For many of us, sex work is a career choice, and we'll be doing it for as long as we can pull it off. For many others, this is an industry we might jump out of when we have finished our studies, or when the time is right. Much like retail, hospitality, or temping, this is an industry that attracts a lot of people who are only here until they are in a position to move on to something they are really passionate about - and that's okay. But because of the stigma surrounding sex work, it's not exactly something you can put on your resumé. The first thing prospective employers do is Google your name! If some horrid person has connected your real name with your work name, you might just be out of luck with that new job. There's also the scary new facial recognition technology that is enabled on Facebook and many other platforms; even if you don't get your name connected by someone, if your face matches in Facebook images and advertisement images, something might click. I hate that it happens, but people will decide to not hire you based on the fact that you used to be a sex worker. If that's you reading this, by the way: fuck you.

Other employment that might be an issue: anything requiring security clearances. As far as I know, there is no exception to those who have done sex work in the past, but I highly doubt that once you mention it in your interview, that they're going to grant you the clearance. It's very hard to lie in those interviews, but it's much easier if they can't connect you to a definitive image of your face on a sex work page.

Plenty of face out workers quit full time sex work and go on to other successful careers, but it's one more risk that they weigh up and decide to take - respect is due to people making either one of those choices.

Laws in Your Location

If you're not aware of the current laws for Australian sex workers, you should know that they are governed by the states rather than at a federal level at this point in time. There's a quick(ish) summary on this page as to the laws, and a much better break down on the Scarlet Alliance page here. Full service sex work is illegal in South Australia for instance, so it's much riskier to be a sex worker there because you risk prosecution and jail time, just for making someone a bit sweaty and a lot satisfied. Criminal records tend to hamper your options for future employment if you can't go back into sex work.

Overseas Travel

It's an absolute minefield out there right now. Sex workers are being turned away in droves from the US border - many were not going there to work, but were face out, and were identified. Many were dobbed in by someone to the US authorities. There is actively a guide out there for those sex workers wishing to travel to the US from Canada, because it's so likely they'll have you flagged as a known sex worker and ban you for a minimum of five years, even if you're just going to visit family. You're not allowed into the USA for ten years after finishing legal work as a sex worker - how unfair is that?? That's like if we disallowed entry to Australia for those working in cannabis dispensaries for ten years after they stopped working there. Facial recognition software is also used during border checks!

It's also not strictly legal to work as a sex worker in many other countries around the globe, including China, Singapore, and much of Europe, but there are still sex workers there, and sex workers who travel there. Add onto that, racism - you're much more likely to be refused entry to many places (including the USA), if you're not white; and they're going to look extra hard at you for an excuse.

The Pros of Showing Face

It's absolutely wonderful for brand establishment and development! People recognise faces a lot more easily than bodies, so a face makes you more identifiable and it's more difficult for people to steal your images. And yes, in this image focused industry, it does make you a bunch more money; there's no getting around that. Faces make you more relatable and create an emotional response and a feeling of more authentic connection - it's an incredibly good business choice. It's really useful for activism as well, and for speaking to the media; people relate to articles and news stories when there's a visible person attached, and not just an anonymous image without a face. As much as we don't like to admit it, humans come to conclusions based on appearance very quickly, and your face is a big part of that - how many times have you just had a feeling about someone because of their face? When you're watching the news and you see a murderer, don't you often just think he looks guilty? What about looking at the face of the Bondi Vet, Dr. Chris Brown? He radiates honesty and wholesomeness (and he's also extremely attractive, I suppose that helps). We're trying to create associations with our faces for different reasons, but regardless, they still work extremely well.

Another great pro - it's so damn exhausting to go through all of your photos to make sure your face isn't reflected in anything, and is adequately covered or angled. This way, you can just whack on your make up, take a selfie, and not have to worry.

The choice to show or not show your face is an intensely personal one, and may include all or none of these reasons. The stigma sex workers face is real, this isn't just a bunch of privileged white girls whining - we are actively treated worse by society if people know what we do. Those who do show their faces are incredibly brave for doing so, and I guarantee you, they've thought this through more than you think, so questions about "won't your future employer find out?" are pretty rude. I promise that we think about these things more than clients do, and talk to each other about the benefits of going face out and not bothering with the secrecy anymore.

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