As a Sugar Baby, I Dealt With So Many Misconceptions

Illustration: Kim Salt
Illustration: Kim Salt

Chanel is a digital creator. For PS's Radical Honesty issue, she discusses her experience as a sugar baby. Read more radically honest stories here.

I'm about to be 31, and I started sugaring when I was 23. I had just moved to Dallas — I had a job, my own place, a nice car. I had things going for me. I kind of just wanted the stuff I couldn't afford: the shoes, the clothes. I was hearing from other women, including a friend, like, "Oh yeah, I have a sugar daddy." So I decided to create a profile on a sugar site. My very first match ended up being my sugar daddy, and the rest is history. It probably lasted a year, but then I got several sugar daddies after that. It introduced me to the game and how it's supposed to work. And it lived up to my expectations.

I always felt like I could be my authentic self. It was never like I had to hide it from my family or friends.

When I matched with my first sugar daddy, I matched with a real sugar daddy who wasn't pushy or wanted to have sex or exchange sex for money. See, that's a little different when it's a transactional — "I give you money, we have sex." In sugaring, there's supposed to be some type of friendship there, some type of level of, "Let's go to events together, let's meet each other's families." The dynamic is: you know this person has far more money than you and is giving you an allowance. People get allowances in marriages all the time.

I never hid it from anyone. I was vocal about being a sugar baby and helping other women who needed advice on sugaring. And that's another thing too that I like about my experience — I always felt like I could be my authentic self. It was never like I had to hide it from my family or friends. No one really had negative thoughts about it, and my family knew my sugar daddy was a nice guy. As long as they could meet him and know I wasn't going on a date with some crazy guy — no, it was a real relationship, and we were like best friends.

I did have negative experiences. I think dating in general you're going to have negative experiences. You go on TikTok and there are women with horror stories just with vanilla dating. I will say that I'm one of the lucky ones. Most of my bad experiences were men who just wanted to date for free, basically. I had this experience where I was going on dates with this guy who actually gave me counterfeit money. I didn't know it was fake; it looked so real. I tried to deposit it at my bank, and they told me it was fraudulent, and I could've gotten into a lot of trouble. Being green, I could've gotten arrested.

Still, people stare at you, and it stops a lot of women from wanting to even do it because of the stigma.

I think in the beginning, I felt a lot of pressure to just agree, because you didn't want to make them upset. But the older I got, the more I realized that I was the one making the rules. His whole goal should be making me comfortable and making my life better and easier. And there is a balance, because you want to do the same for them. But I think a lot of women, when they start sugaring, they feel like they have to agree with everything. But thankfully, I wasn't broke. I had my own money and I had my own things going for me.

It would've been so much easier if I had more guidance when I was starting out. I have not sugared in so long — I stopped sugaring when I was 28 — but if I bring up sugaring to someone, it still has this stigma to it. And that's the thing, too. Any type of sex work — OnlyFans, whatever — it all has this stigma to it, and people are unfairly labeling these women. If it was a more open conversation, it would save a lot of women from going behind their families' backs, sneaking around. Also, you feel the shame, being a young Black woman with an older white man. I've also had Black sugar daddies, people of different races. Still, people stare at you, and it stops a lot of women from wanting to even do it because of the stigma.

The backlash that I receive from the content I make, it's been from people who don't know me. Thankfully, I have a great family who respects what I do, but it did get to me — and it still does get to me — where people will say all these negative things about me or what I'm doing. Women should be able to make these choices. And the men don't get backlash. I've never met a sugar daddy who was like, "I get shamed for dating younger women." They do not. They actually get placed higher in society for dating young, attractive women.

But opening my mouth and saying what I do and helping other women — it has changed my life completely. I was shocked by how many women didn't know about it. It's like, no, you don't have to sleep with these men, you are just supposed to be their bestie.

Jump back to the Radically Honest issue.

— As told to Lena Felton

Lena Felton is the senior director of features and special content at POPSUGAR, where she oversees feature stories, special projects, and our identity content. Previously, she was an editor at The Washington Post, where she led a team covering issues of gender and identity.