Around 8 a.m., Lud, a 19-year-old model and tattoo artist in São Paulo, Brazil, logs on to begin her day as a cam girl. In the morning, when people are getting ready for work, and thinking about the stress of their day, most clients just want to chat — about life, TV shows, soccer, or anything else that's on their mind. "It's more like a therapy, really, than just a type of sex work only," she tells Refinery29. Later on in the day, they might ask her to take off her clothes, and at dawn, "that's the hour of the fetishists," she says.
Lud, who goes by the artistic name "Molive," is featured in a new episode of Get Real, Refinery29’s documentary YouTube series about self-acceptance. She began camming when she found herself unemployed and living on her own away from her family. "There was nowhere for me to run," she recalls. "I had to do it on my own." At first, she viewed camming was a way to make a little money and gain financial independence, but camming — along with professional modelling — became an artistic outlet that allowed her to "feel more beautiful" and empowered in her body, she says.
As a feminist, Lud found it difficult to explain the concept of webcam modelling to friends and family who didn't share her perspective on sex work. "I do understand that it can make women be seen as objects," she says in the video. "But, I'd like for people to use their own eyes, and also hear what the experience is, to have a conversation, and address some doubts, in order to break some of the taboo." Now, she says that camming has changed her life so drastically that she could never condemn it.
Lud hopes that other women can see the beauty and power in camming, and perhaps challenge their their internalised biases about this line of sex work. "Truthfully, if one is speaking about empowerment of women, the realm of sex is very important right?" she says. "To change this view is important."