An article published by Australian women’s magazine Mamamia, raises the ire of Australian escorts. In the article, the author argues the fate of escorts is actually much worse when it is compared to actress Julia Robert’s character in romantic comedy film Pretty Woman. The article, which specifically addresses the life of commercial escorts, was published to commemorate the 25 years of the movie’s release.

21-year-old escort Tilly Lawless admitted she was angry with the content of the article that generalized all escorts and accused the profession as something harmful. Driven by her anger, Lawless decided to upload a picture of herself on Instagram to show another face of escort services. Lawless claimed she had been working as a legal escort in Sydney for two months.

The Scarlett Alliance (the Australian Escort’s Association) then contacted Lawless. The agency asked Lawless to make a special hashtag on Twitter. In a short time, the hashtag was widespread, with Australian escorts using it to make their statements. They upload photos of their faces openly, with some claiming to have been working as an escort for the first time. “I was really pleasantly surprised,” Lawless said, “Sex workers are very rarely humanized as individuals. So often our bodies are spoken about, but putting our faces on social media is such a powerful thing.”

Escort Madison Missina even wrote a separate article, which is also published in Mamamia, to respond to the article written by Laila Mickelwait. “It gets confused with the topic of sex trafficking. Whilst sex workers and the victims of sex trafficking both exchange sex for goods and/or services, there is one very important difference: consent” said Missina.

In line with Lawless and Missina, Holly, who also works as an escort, admitted she objected to the picture that is often used to describe the fate of escorts: the photographs of Eastern European women who are victims of human trafficking. “That’s not our face, not our lived experience” said Holly.

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