Mia Khalifa is now a TikTok star, and she loves it (2024)

Mia Khalifa is now a TikTok star, and she loves it (1)

Mia Khalifa TiTokCredit: @miakhalifa/tiktok

This week was a whirlwind for Mia Khalifa. Not only did she undergo rhinoplasty surgery, but for a few hours, the internet thought she died.

Fortunately Khalifa is very much alive, and the former p*rnstar and current sports commentator has found a new, welcoming world online: TikTok.


##duet with @iisabellabello πŸ‘πŸ‘„πŸ‘ I have a family. And they were on tiktok this whole time πŸ₯Ίβ™₯️

♬ original sound - .92hrss

"I've never really enjoyed social media," said Khalifa in an interview with Mashable. Prior to TikTok, she made a point to treat social media like her job and only followed friends and what she was interested in β€” and muted everyone else. Up until this week, she had her Instagram comments turned off.

"It was awful," she said of the Instagram hate. "It really affected me, even if I put a brave face forward to the public." She said it also impacted her relationship with her husband, who read the comments as well.

TikTok, however, is different. "As soon as I joined TikTok I found this whole new world where I can actually read the comments, and not feel like I should have them turned off," said Khalifa, "and actually want to engage with the people commenting… they feel like my friends."


Paying for p*rn should be the post-pandemic 'new normal'

Khalifa is more used to internet vitriol than support. While her stint in p*rn lasted only a few months in 2014 and 2015, her videos sparked controversy due to her wearing a hijab. (Khalifa is Lebanese and was raised Christian.) The outrage just made Khalifa more famous, and by late December 2014, the then-21-year-old was the top p*rnstar on p*rnhub.

She swiftly left the industry in early 2015 but was still a "sensation" on p*rnhub three years later β€” and not getting paid for it. Khalifa has received just $12,000 for videos that now have views in the hundreds of millions.

Khalifa has since been public about her experience in the industry, not just about lack of compensation but also being coerced into signing unfavorable contracts and putting on the hijab for her scenes:

She's also been vocal about post-traumatic stress and shame. "It kicks in mostly when I go out in public," she said in the above BBC interview. "The stares I get, I feel like people can see through my clothes."

While the true extent of the horrors committed in the mainstream p*rn industry isn't yet clear, more information has been unearthed in recent years. In 2019, for example, owners and employees of now-defunct site GirlsDop*rn were charged with criminal sex trafficking when 22 women said they coerced and lied to in order to produce their p*rn. Earlier this year, the women won the case β€” and the owners had to pay them almost $13 million.

That's not to mention offenses such as stealing content and uploading without consent or compensation for the sex workers, as p*rn director Erika Lust mentioned in her interview with Mashable earlier this month.

Khalifa herself has zero ownership over her domain name and videos, which is why they remain up to this day. When she told the site owners she'd pay for it, they told her they'd "compromise" by sharing "some" revenue if she made more videos for them, Khalifa said in an interview with Hero Magazine.

She even made a TikTok expressing how difficult it is to get a billion dollar conglomerate to take down her videos and another one about her ongoing trauma.

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Khalifa is still revealing upsetting events that occurred during her brief time in p*rn, such as a shoot where a photographer claimed to be from Vogue and subsequently groped her:

Tweet may have been deleted

On top of malicious comments about her p*rn scenes themselves, Khalifa also receives hate for vilifying the industry, sometimes even from mainstream p*rn stars themselves. That doesn't stop her, however. One particular comment she made about not entering the film industry went viral on Twitter:

Tweet may have been deleted

"I definitely want women to think about it before they jump in," Khalifa said of her warnings.

"I feel like women in the industry tend to kind of glorify it, and it's incredible and I'm so thankful that that is their experience," she continued, "but I think that they need to be responsible and remember that they're the outlier, they're the exception not the rule."

In addition to her newfound TikTok fame, Khalifa also made an appearance on the Hulu show Ramy. In a fictionalized version of herself, Khalifa muses about how Muslim countries consume the most p*rn, so the men yelling at her may be the same ones watching her.

Khalifa initially received a cold email about being on the show. "I thought it was fake at first," she said, "because I completely devoured the first season in one day." She made producers send her a photo holding a spoon and a newspaper with the date to prove their legitimacy.

"He [Ramy Youssef] was so nice and really interested in getting my sentiments across," Khalifa said, "Basically just letting me have a place to tell my story because he doesn't agree with the way I've been treated."

"He gave me a voice and a platform and it really resonated and I'm so thankful for that," Khalifa said of Youssef.

That appearance, too, went viral on Twitter:

Tweet may have been deleted

Despite the increase in support, she still receives vicious comments. If you look at Khalifa's Twitter feed, for example, she receives regular hate, including from current p*rnstars who say she's "stigmatizing" the industry.

"The performers who do have large platforms project the industry," she said. "Until that changes, girls are going to keep going down the same path I do where they regret it a few years down the road β€” or even a few months down the road β€” and I don't want anyone else to go through that."

Khalifa said, "It's heartbreaking and it's completely life shattering and I'm so thankful that I was able to pick up the pieces and make a life for myself, but not everyone can unfortunately."

"This has been six years of just kind of sticking through the hate"

She said there's now enough voices of positivity and love on Instagram to drown out the negative, which is why she turned comments on; she's also expressed her gratitude for support on Twitter.

"This has been six years of just kind of sticking through the hate and hoping, hoping one day that enough people will understand that I'm not the person that the world thinks I am," she said, "and I'm just completely speechless and I love every single person who supports."

Not only are people offering messages of support for Khalifa, they also want to help her. On Wednesday, a Change.org petition called Justice For Mia Khalifa was created, and by Thursday it had received over 18,000 signatures. TikTokers are also calling for justice, while Twitter stans vow to unite Gen Z and K-pop fandom to destroy p*rnhub.

Just as Khalifa found a welcoming community on TikTok, perhaps she'll one day see reclamation of her name and work thanks to that community. For now, she's ready to continue fighting.

"I have so much peace and confidence now in my fight because of them," said Khalifa, "and I'm very grateful."


Anna Iovine is associate editor of features at Mashable. Previously, as the sex and relationships reporter, she covered topics ranging from dating apps to pelvic pain. Before Mashable, Anna was a social editor at VICE and freelanced for publications such as Slate and the Columbia Journalism Review. Follow her on X @annaroseiovine.

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Mia Khalifa is now a TikTok star, and she loves it (2024)
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