On tonight’s episode of VICELAND’s Black Market: Dispatches, we take a look at the “sugar baby” industry, in which young women provide companionship to wealthy men in exchange for financial remuneration. One of the “sugar babies” featured in tonight’s episode, Allie*, wrote the essay below detailing her feelings about the profession following the episode’s filming, as well as the changes in her life that have taken place since then.
This was never my dream—I’m not sure what my dream was, but this wasn’t it. All I ever wanted was to survive and make sure my family did too. That’s not why other sugar babies I know got into the sugar lifestyle, but that’s why I did. Would I do it all over, knowing what I know now? Maybe.
Don’t get me wrong—I tried to get a “real job,” but I couldn’t. I went to school, but I couldn’t finish because I couldn’t afford to. How do you survive in that situation? However you can.
My decisions cost me my body, sense of self, and my mental health. I did things that I didn’t want to do because I was desperate for money. I let things happen to me because the fear of not surviving was so great, and I told lies to cover up the things that happened to me. I developed safety protocols to protect others, so they would never have to do things they didn’t want to do. I warned people not to get into this.
A lot of people make being a sugar baby look fun, and I’m sure that it was for them. I know several girls that used the profession to finance their dreams, open businesses, and finish school. I became a sugar baby to survive and to make sure people were fed. My dreams were never realized because no one helped me reach them. I didn’t have a fall back, which was my fault. So let this serve as a warning: When you go into sugar baby relationships, know what the endgame is.
The result of my having been a sugar baby is that I’m always anxious, have low self-esteem, and don’t know how to have normal, healthy relationships. My biggest fear is that someone is going to find out what I’ve done, and they’re not going to love me. And why should they? People paid to be inside me. I’d like to think that people are more open-minded, but now I’m so terrified of rejection that it hurts. Also, now that I have a “real” job, I’m also terrified my employers are going to find out what I used to do and fire me. I ask myself, What if they find out? What if a customer recognizes me? Can they let me go? What’s going to happen?
Some of my family doesn’t know what I did, and I’d like to keep it that way. They thought the
reason I went to so many fancy restaurants is because I was a food critic. Would they still love me if they knew? Would the weight of their disappointment crush me? Would my friends be mad? Would they no longer be my friends?
After being interviewed for the episode and describing my life as a sugar baby in detail, I realized I wasn’t happy. I did intense therapy to try to heal some of the wounds that had been opened, and I was forced to confront the fact that I didn’t want to sell myself anymore. This wasn’t what I wanted. This wasn’t my dream. It hurt, and it was scary.
I moved and tried to start over. Did I still stay on Seeking Arrangements? Yes. Why? Fear. I didn’t know any other type of relationship anymore. I’m trying to be “normal,” but the reality is that I don’t know how to be at all.
But I have a job I go to every day. I go on dates that I’m not paid for. I split the bill. I pay my rent. I order pizza with my friends. I seem OK, but every day, I fear someone will find out that my life hasn’t been the sunshine and rainbows that I’ve made it out to seem. I put on a front, though, and I act OK. If I do that long enough, maybe it will become a reality. Maybe I’ll figure out my dream.
*Allie asked us not to use her last name to protect her identity.