In June, TikTok creator Bekah Day was scrolling through Reddit, looking for new content for her popular “Instagram vs Reality” series. She kept seeing the same photo pop up: a splitscreen of what appeared to be two women, one who appeared to be in her twenties or thirties, and one who looked like a young teen.
“I thought, ‘there must be more to this’,” she says over the phone from Missouri. She quickly found one of the woman’s Instagram handles: @coconutkitty143. From there, she began looking back through old photos on the feed.
She was shocked by what she found: the two women in the original photo were the same person. The account belonged to an NSFW content creator who appeared to be heavily editing photos of herself to look significantly younger, or what Day refers to as “age regression”. In the photos – most of which are bikini or lingerie shots – she looked like a very young teenage girl.
“I just don’t think it’s a positive thing to be doing,” she says. And so she created a now-viral TikTok video calling out Coconut Kitty – who also goes by Diana Deets – and suggesting that her photos were “paedo-baiting”. To date the video has been viewed by 3.3m people, and was written up by Vox, who described Deets as emblematic of TikTok’s “catfish problem”.
A few days later, on the West Coast in California, Deets, who says she was unaware of Day until this point, received a message from her ex-husband telling her about a TikTok video that was doing the rounds.
“He said these people are saying bad things about you,” she says over the phone. “I didn’t even watch it and just told him to ignore it.” Deets says she had been the subject of similar allegations before – most notably from an Italian YouTuber named Ready to Glare – and has learned to develop a “thick skin” when it comes to online criticism.
But after people kept sending her the link, she caved and downloaded TikTok. “By the time I saw the video, it already had one million views,” she says, “and I was just like, whaaaat?”
What hurt most was the claim that she was trying to appeal to paedophiles, Deets says, which later escalated to accusations that she was “grooming young children” by anti-porn activist Kate J Oseen, who describes herself as an “anti-trafficking ally”.
“It’s the worst thing to be accused of and is the opposite of who I am and the purpose I see for myself,” says Deets, who vehemently denies ever intending to attract an audience that is attracted to underage girls.
Deets, who shares nude content and erotic writing as Coconut Kitty on OnlyFans, says that the fact she left unedited photos at the beginning of her feed is proof that she was never trying to trick anyone – and that @coconutkitty143 should be understood as a fictitious creation.
“I am an artist,” she explains. “I’ve painted for years and got sick of people recognising me from my sex work. So I decided to create a character based on Japanese anime, or Disney cartoons like Ariel or Princess Jasmine” – all characters, she points out, who are also extremely young-looking, with babyish faces and unrealistically curvy bodies.
The TikTok video sparked a huge conversation online. Was Deets wrong – even immoral – for de-ageing these pictures? “This goes beyond serving a fantasy, this is dangerous content that she’s releasing,” one commentator wrote under Day’s TikTok post. “How do you sleep at night knowing you promote paedophilia?” another posted on one of Deets’s earliest IG posts.
But is it really that straightforward? Aren’t we all just a product of our environment? If there is a line, where is it, and who decides when it’s been crossed? And if a huge market exists for this type of content (which if Coconut Kitty’s three million followers on Instagram is anything to go by, there clearly is) who is ultimately responsible for it – the creator or the consumer?
“I frown upon making yourself look younger but I understand why some are doing it,” says Catjira, a cosplay performer who sells nudes photos and adult videos on OnlyFans. She places the blame for the increasing pressure to look young squarely on male audiences. “They’re the ones who want it. I started camming when I was like 22 and at the time I looked a lot younger. [As I aged] a lot of men left me for the next youngest model they could find.
“It’s a cycle. I’m getting older now and that particular audience has no interest in me anymore because I look my age,” she says. “Lots of women in my position would try to get those kinds of fans back because they don’t realise there’s a whole different world out there of fans who love your actual age and looks.”
Mistress Harley, a findomme and dominatrix from California, says that the issue ultimately boils down to society’s obsession with youth. “I have huge fake breasts, tattoos, and that's how I like to look,” she explains. “I like having a youthful appearance because I understand the value of that in our society.”
“I would argue that any engagement in illegal activity is the obvious line, as defined by law. Fantasy is the realm of sex work. Sex workers are no more responsible for how people consume their art than any other artist is.”
I ask Deets – who declines to share her age as she views it as “irrelevant” – whether she feels the pressure to look young as a female content creator. “I grew up in this Kardashian environment with all the pressure it places on young women to look a certain way,” she says. “Am I a product of that? Of course! It would be impossible not to be.”
Nonetheless, she insists that the idea she was making content specifically for paedophiles is “crazy”, adding: “I really didn’t think I was doing anything that different from a lot of influencers who also heavily edit their pictures.”
Does she think paedophiles are viewing her work? “I don’t know,” she replies thoughtfully. “I’d rather not categorise someone or label them – that’s a big accusation. No one has ever said anything to me that suggests they think I’m underage.” If anybody were to approach her under the assumption that she was a child, she would “100 percent report them”.
Chelsea Ferguson, the founder of adult content platform Admire Me VIP, says that though she hasn’t knowingly edited her photos to look younger, she understands the desire to do so. “Editing and filters are a part of my everyday life; with social media expectations nowadays it's become a staple part of my career,” she says.
“If she's not hurting anyone and her fans enjoy her content, why not?” Ferguson adds. “There are lots of fetishes and kinks in the adult space – if you tap into something very niche this can help you to earn more money.”
And it appears to be working – Deets has almost 11,000 followers on OnlyFans, where she charges $10.99 per month for access to exclusive photos, video and audio. “I think she found a niche that worked,” TikTok user Day acknowledges, “but I think a lot of creepy men follow her and I know she’s 100 percent aware of who her audience is and I think she’s played into it.”
Since the TikTok video went viral, Deets says she has been doxxed and threatened – abuse which Day says she categorically does not support. “At the end of the day she can do what she wants, but we can open the conversation and ask is this normal, is this OK?” Day argues. “I think it’s questionable behaviour to de-age yourself like that for adult content.”
The intensity of the scorn poured on Deets over the past few weeks, however, suggests people attribute a level of personal responsibility to her that is far beyond what one human being can reasonably be expected to shoulder for an extremely broad and complex societal problem.
“Our culture caters to fetishism [sic] of younger people,” Mistress Harley says. “It's hypocrisy to call out this woman because she's a sex worker, when no one is calling out the millions of women who use filters and plastic surgery to look younger in the mainstream.”
I say that I think maybe people are calling that out, though maybe not to the extent that it stops people from trying to look younger. She sends me a cry-laughing emoji: “That’s true!”
From her home in California, Deets has been left unimpressed from her encounter with online notoriety: “This mass bullying and witch hunt is far more damaging than anything I’ve ever done.” Ultimately, she can see both sides, though: “If I was to not know me and just watched the video, I wouldn’t jump on that train,” she says, “like everyone else did.”