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Belle Delphine

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Belle Delphine
Mary-Belle Kirschner

(1999-10-23) 23 October 1999 (age 21)
Other namesBunny Delphine
OccupationModel, Internet personality
Years active2015–2019
Modeling information
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Hair colorBrown
Eye colorHazel
YouTube information
Years active2016, 2018–2019
Total views21 million
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2018[2]
Updated 19 May 2020[2]

Mary-Belle Kirschner (born 23 October 1999), better known by her online alias Belle Delphine, is an English Internet personality, model, and YouTuber. She is most notable for her glamour and cosplay modeling on Instagram. Her posts on the platform featured a risqué and self-proclaimed "weird" aesthetic, and were often influenced by popular Internet memes and trends. As a result of her online activity, she became an Internet meme in her own right.

In the summer of 2019, Kirschner registered a joke Pornhub account and began selling her "GamerGirl Bath Water" product through her online store, garnering her a great amount of media coverage online. Shortly after, her Instagram account was deleted due to community guideline violations. Media outlets have described Kirschner as a cross between an Internet troll and a performance artist, as well as an e-girl. Kirschner has also been cited as an influence on the e-girl aesthetic commonly adopted by TikTok users.

Life and career[edit source | edit]

Early years and developing an aesthetic[edit source | edit]

Kirschner was born on 23 October 1999 in Cape Town, South Africa, and eventually moved to the United Kingdom.[3][4][5] Kirschner has had an Instagram account since 2015,[1] and in July 2016, she registered a YouTube account.[6] In August 2016, Kirschner uploaded a makeup tutorial video, demonstrating how to do a cat-eye.[7][8]

In 2018, Kirschner began to regularly upload pictures of her modeling on Instagram, which had a distinct, self-proclaimed "weird elf kitty girl" aesthetic, and she used accessories such as pink wigs, thigh-high stockings, and cat ears.[5] She also regularly produced cosplay-related content,[5] which included characters such as Harley Quinn and D.Va.[8] In March 2018, Kirschner launched a Patreon account, where supporters could pledge a monthly donation and receive access to self-described "lewd" photosets.[1][8] At one point, her content garnered over 4,400 supporters on the website.[1] Polygon noted that one follower spent $2,500 in exchange for a personal Skype conversation with Kirschner.[9] In September, she uploaded a second YouTube video featuring her giving a tour of her pastel pink room, while wearing fake braces and thigh-high stockings.[8] Rolling Stone noted that her aesthetic in this second video is more in-line with that of the one she later adopted during her rise to prominence on Instagram; the publication described that aesthetic as "alien Disney princess porn star."[8]

Once she adopted this new online aesthetic, her Instagram account surged from 850,000 followers in November 2018 to 4.2 million in July 2019.[8] Her content also began to notably and frequently include ahegao facial expressions, which are exaggerated, eyes-rolled-back expressions that signify an orgasm and often featured in adult anime.[5][10][11] Complex further described the nature of Kirschner's content, detailing that "along with her more traditional photos, she has posted clips of herself coyly eating a raw egg, shell and all. A scroll through her feed is just as likely to find colorful thirst traps as it is to see photos of her playing with a dead octopus."[10] As she grew in popularity on the platform, Kirschner began to draw controversy for her content. In January 2019, adult content creator Indigo White alleged that while underage, Kirschner used other sex workers' nude photos and represented them as her own.[8] A February video, which showed Kirschner dancing to a song about suicide while holding a gun, also drew controversy.[12] Shortly after it was posted, false rumors of her death began to circulate online.[12][13]

Pornhub account and GamerGirl Bath Water stunts[edit source | edit]

In June 2019, Kirschner posted on Instagram, promising to create a Pornhub account if her post reached 1 million likes.[14] Pornhub responded to the post, calling it "the best news."[15] The post quickly earned over 1.8 million likes; in response, Kirschner held up her promise and created a Pornhub account, to which she uploaded 12 videos.[14] Reactions to this were mixed to negative, as many of Kirschner's fans were disappointed as her uploads were troll videos that featured misleading titles and thumbnails.[8][15] Each of the videos received poor like-to-dislike ratios, ranging between 66% and 77% dislikes.[16] Pornhub Insights also published a statistics report detailing that Kirschner's videos became the most-disliked in the history of the website.[17] One of the videos titled "PEWDIEPIE goes all the way INSIDE Belle Delphine" was a minute-long clip which featured "a cat ear-clad [Kirschner] eating a picture of YouTuber PewDiePie, winking throughout."[14] The video drew a response from PewDiePie, who continued with its joking nature.[18][12] Later in 2019, Kirschner was nominated for a Pornhub Award.[19] In December, Pornhub released their annual statistics report, which included Kirschner as the most-searched celebrity in 2019;[20] "Belle Delphine" was also the fourth-most-searched term in general during the year.[21]

On 1 July 2019, Kirschner launched her online storefront, along with a product that was dubbed "GamerGirl Bath Water".[9][22] The product was marketed as the remains of her bath water and was priced at $30 (£24).[9] Kirschner stated that the idea to sell her bath water came from continued fan comments on her photos saying they would drink her bathwater.[5] Upon initially selling the product, Kirschner added the note: "This water is not for drinking and should only be used for sentimental purposes."[9] The product was a commercial success for Kirschner, as the first run of the bath water sold out in three days.[22]

Her selling of GamerGirl Bath Water was met with considerable controversy, media coverage, and Internet memes.[22][23] The response from general Internet users also included tangential hoaxes based around the bath water, as well as parody and knock-off products. Two days after the bath water product sold out, a website was created attempting to capitalize on its success, selling "GamerGirl Pee" for just under $10,000; this new website and product was confirmed to not be associated with Kirschner.[24] @BakeRises, a since-banned Twitter user, impersonated The Daily Mail as a means to fabricate a headline alleging that Kirschner's product caused a herpes outbreak.[18] Snopes debunked this claim, stating that "the 'herpes' twist to the story was no more than a hoax."[25] YouTube video responses also sprung up featuring individuals drinking, cooking, and vaping the bath water.[8][23]

EJ Dickson of Rolling Stone noted that the response from media outlets alternated between "deriding [Kirschner's] fans for their naïvete and applauding her for her marketing savvy."[8] Katie Bishop, writing for The Guardian, reported that the sale was "widely mocked."[26] In concurrence, the International Business Times wrote, "while some people were amused by the idea of buying someone's bathwater, others have said that anyone who bought the GamerGirl Bath Water was 'sad' and 'pathetic.'"[23] Patricia Hernandez of Polygon commented, "Perhaps this seems like a strange thing to do, but it's very similar to the phenomenon of sex workers selling intimate items, such as panties." Hernandez additionally opined, "What's curious about [Kirschner's] side hustle here is that it seems to be a mixture of business and next-level performance art. In the video advertising the bath water, she outright calls this a stunt. And if you look at her wider Instagram oeuvre, [Kirschner's] work is defined by her willingness to go there. The result is as strange as it is funny."[9]

In a July 2019 interview with The Guardian, Kirschner stated, "I'm lucky. I can do crazy things and get to see the world react to it, and there's definitely enjoyment in that, even if it's sometimes a little scary. I get a bigger reaction to my weirder content but I think that's only possible because I also make risqué content."[26] She added, "I think it's been amazing and fun, but it's time to move on to new things. I have a diary next to my bed full of crazy ideas. I'm not sure what will top this, but I'm looking forward to seeing what will come next."[26]

Instagram account ban and social media hiatus[edit source | edit]

On 19 July 2019, Kirschner's Instagram account was banned from the platform.[27] Business Insider reported that Kirschner's account ban came "after a seemingly co-ordinated reporting campaign against her."[28] However, a spokesperson for Instagram told the outlet that her account was not removed due to the aforementioned campaign, but rather because it violated the company's community guidelines.[28] The specific post or reason that led to Kirschner's ban was not provided by the spokesperson, who cited privacy.[29] At the time of her ban, the "belle.delphine" account accumulated over 4.5 million followers, according to Business Insider and Social Blade, a social media analytics firm.[28][30] Commenting on the ban, she stated she was in contact with Instagram to restore her account.[31]

After her ban from Instagram, Kirschner utilized her Patreon and Twitter accounts to communicate with her followers. After a tweet on 21 August, she became uncharacteristically quiet on her social media platforms.[32] This prompted many of her Patreon supporters to believe they were being scammed, as she previously promised upcoming special content.[32][33] During her hiatus, PewDiePie featured memes relating to her GamerGirl Bath Water product on his Meme Review series.[1]

On 4 October 2019, H3 Podcast co-host Ethan Klein suggested that Kirschner may have had legal trouble due to posting her bath water product.[32] Days later, on 7 October, Kirschner tweeted an image claiming it to be her mugshot, with a caption detailing she was arrested.[32] The image contained a "Metropolitan Police Service" watermark, although there was not any external proof of an arrest, and the Metropolitan Police said the claim could not be verified.[31][32] Kirschner later followed up the tweet, revealing that someone had stolen her pet hamster at a party and that her vandalization of that person's car resulted in her arrest.[33][34] Online publications and users raised concerns over the validity of Kirschner's claims due to her previous trolling; in addition, some noted that Metropolitan Police mugshots do not contain watermarks.[33] As of May 2020, Kirschner's most recent online activity was uploading her fourth YouTube video on 4 November 2019.[35]

Media reception[edit source | edit]

Kirschner's Belle Delphine persona and her related content has garnered much curiosity and scrutiny from online users and media outlets alike. Various outlets, including Business Insider, The Cut, Kotaku, and Polygon have described her as a "troll", and several instances of her activity online as "stunts".[1][5][9][18] Many of those outlets also assert that there is a satirical and ironic layer to her content.[18][8] Bishop wrote that Kirschner "has successfully tapped into an online subculture by creating content that exists somewhere between Internet pranks and erotic modeling. For many of her followers, Delphine is a personality before she is a pornographic model."[26] Writing for Kotaku, Joshua Rivera opined that the overt sexuality in Kirschner's content was presented satirically, "given her long list of stunts that all tend to subvert or toy with well-established fetish tropes."[18]

Kirschner's polarizing social media presence has also been noted, with London Evening Standard writing that she "has sparked a flurry of debate online, with fans branding her everything from a master manipulator to a harmful sexist stereotype of gamer girls."[36] Business Insider cited one fan response in particular, which likened Kirschner to a "2019 Andy Warhol".[1] Alex Galbraith, writing for Complex, commented that her "exceptionally weird" stunts "seem to be satirizing the whole idea of sexiness."[10] Citing her as "a surrealist troll that became too much for Instagram," Business Insider ranked Kirschner 89th on the 2019 edition of its UK Tech 100 list.[37] The list's purpose is to feature the one-hundred "most interesting, innovative, and influential people shaping the UK tech scene."[37]

Her association with both an e-girl image has been covered in the media, with publications having cited cited her as influencing the e-girl aesthetic commonly found on TikTok.[38][39] Kotaku and Business Insider have described Kirschner as a "peak self-aware e-girl,"[40] and as a figure that some may point to as "a symbol of the first wave of e-girl," respectively.[38] Furthermore, her association with a gamer girl image and its tropes has been particularly highlighted by media outlets. After her GamerGirl Bath Water product went viral on the Internet, Rivera opined, "even the notion of 'gamer girl bath water' plays with all manner of stereotypes about women in games and how some men see them: as mythical unicorns to lust after.[18] Rolling Stones's EJ Dickson described Kirschner's posts as being more "bizarre" and "ridiculous", rather than "overtly sexual", and opined that: "Such content appears to indicate that Delphine is leaning into — if not overtly parodying — the perception of the ideal girl as a hot, innocent young thing whose desire to play Fortnite is only eclipsed by her desire for nerdy gamer boy dick."[8] Dickson also opined on why Kirschner attracts much controversy, writing that:

Delphine markets herself as a 'gamer girl', which engages with a very specific stereotype about women in gaming. In the gaming community, there's a longstanding perception of female gamers as desperate attention-seekers who sexualize themselves to get more views and capitalize on horny dudes' desire for nerdy female counterparts.[8]

Lela London, writing for The Telegraph, opined that "for women to truly escape gaming's gendered grip, we need to raise more non-fetishized Gamer Girls to the top. [Kirschner] is proof there is still quite a way to go."[41] Aoife Wilson, Head of Video at Eurogamer has conversely commented positively on Kirschner's online persona and content, asserting that "[Kirschner] is an incredibly savvy businesswoman. She gained a huge online following through her love of cosplay and her ability to replicate real-life ahegao faces. She's kept that momentum going by engaging with her followers and trying new things, always skirting the line between sexy and surreal. She absolutely knows her audience."[41]

Her content's connection with themes found in Japanese popular culture and media has also been examined. Dickson wrote that the references to Japanese culture in Kirschner's content have garnered her some criticism, as she has been "accused of racism and cultural appropriation in her cosplay, as well as capitalizing on the eroticization of young girls."[8] Conversely, Japanese adult performer Marica Hase opined "I see her manga characters as more of an homage and not racist."[8]

Further reading[edit source | edit]

  • Griggs, Mary Beth (12 July 2019). "If you bought influencer bathwater, could you test it for DNA?". The Verge. Retrieved 21 July 2019.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Leskin, Paige (10 September 2019). "Meet Belle Delphine, the Instagram star who sold her bathwater to 'thirsty gamer boys' and had her account shut down over a rules violation". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 8 October 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "UCXvKUavCtDOlA8bT1i2tI3w (belle delphine) Monthly YouTube statistics". Social Blade. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  3. Sloan, Elizabeth (19 July 2019). "Belle Delphine: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Archived from the original on 20 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  4. "Belle Delphine: 12 Facts You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Online Star". PopBuzz. Global. 2019. Archived from the original on 31 August 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Aggeler, Madeleine (19 July 2019). "Who Is Belle Delphine, the Gamer Girl Selling Her Bathwater?". The Cut. New York. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  6. "belle delphine – YouTube about page". belle delphine. YouTube. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  7. My everyday makeup! | Belle. belle delphine. YouTube. 14 August 2016. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 Dickson, EJ (11 July 2019). "Is Belle Delphine, a.k.a. Bathwater Gamer Girl, the Greatest Troll On the Internet?". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Hernandez, Patricia (3 July 2019). "The woman selling that 'GamerGirl Bath Water' loves to troll her viewers". Polygon. Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Galbraith, Alex (16 July 2019). "Instagram Model Sells Her Bathwater to Thirsty Fans". Complex. Archived from the original on 21 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  11. Cole, Samantha (28 February 2020). "How Censorship Created Porn's New Face of Pleasure". Vice. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Dodgson, Lindsay (21 June 2019). "An Instagram star tricked her fans into thinking she was making porn, but actually posted videos of her stroking stuffed toys and eating a picture of PewDiePie". Insider. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  13. Yemi, Frank (19 February 2019). "Is Belle Delphine dead? Cosplay model's controversial 'suicide' video sparks rumor she died". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Hill, Harry (21 June 2019). "Cosplayer Belle Delphine trolled her followers with the promise of a Pornhub account". Mashable. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Prokos, Hayley (21 June 2019). "Belle Delphine Fans Are Furious After Cosplayer Trolls Them With Unsexy Pornhub Videos". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 21 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  16. Crichton, Maddie (21 June 2019). "Cosplay Instagram Star Belle Delphine Trolls Followers With PornHub Account". Rogue Rocket. Archived from the original on 18 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  17. "Belle Delphine Searches". Pornhub. 21 June 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 Rivera, Joshua (10 July 2019). "The 'Gamer Girl Bath Water' Saga Keeps Getting Stranger". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  19. Dey, Kunal (18 September 2019). "PornHub nominates Instagram stars Tana Mongeau and Belle Delphine for awards although both haven't made any porn". Meaww. Archived from the original on 21 September 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  20. Song, Sandra (14 December 2019). "Belle Delphine Was Pornhub's Most Searched For Celebrity in 2019". Paper. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  21. Naftulin, Julia (11 December 2019). "People wanted to watch lots of 'alien' and 'Belle Delphine' porn in 2019, PornHub data reveals". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Dodgson, Lindsay (5 July 2019). "An Instagram star put her own bathwater up for sale for $30 a bottle, and it sold out in 3 days". Insider. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Vivar, Maia (10 July 2019). "Belle Delphine's Bathwater Causes Backlash: 'Pathetic'". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 21 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  24. Sung, Morgan (9 July 2019). "Belle Delphine, who sold gamer girl bathwater, isn't promoting that gamer girl pee". Mashable. Archived from the original on 21 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  25. MacGuill, Dan (9 July 2019). "Did People Contract Herpes After Drinking Instagram Star Belle Delphine's Bathwater?". Snopes. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Bishop, Katie (12 July 2019). "Who is paying $30 for 'gamer girl' Belle Delphine's bath water?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  27. Molina, Brett (19 July 2019). "Belle Delphine, Internet star who sold her bath water, has Instagram account deleted". USA Today. Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Kanter, Jake (20 July 2019). "The Instagram star who went viral for selling her bathwater has had her account shut down after people reported her". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 20 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  29. Maxim Staff (22 July 2019). "Instagram Model Who Sold Her Bathwater to 'Thirsty Gamer Boys' Has Account Shut Down For Rules Violation". Maxim. Archived from the original on 3 August 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  30. "belle.delphine Instagram Stats Summary Profile". Social Blade. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Soen, Hayley (8 October 2019). "Who is Belle Delphine? The British YouTuber claiming she's been arrested". The Tab. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 Co, Franz (7 October 2019). "Belle Delphine tweets 'arrest mugshot' in response to conspiracy theories". GameRevolution. Archived from the original on 7 October 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Bryan, Chloe (8 October 2019). "Belle Delphine now claims she was arrested after vandalizing a car". Mashable. Archived from the original on 9 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  34. Song, Sandra (8 October 2019). "Gamer Girl Belle Delphine Says She Was Arrested". Paper. Archived from the original on 9 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  35. How to become Belle Delphine. belle delphine. YouTube. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  36. Hills, Megan C. (9 October 2019). "Who is Belle Delphine? From selling her bath water to being 'arrested' over a hamster theft, here's what to know about the Internet personality". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Hanbury, Mary; Hamilton, Isobel Asher; Wood, Charlie (10 October 2019). "UK Tech 100: The 100 most influential people shaping British technology in 2019". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Leskin, Paige (9 March 2020). "Everything you need to know about e-girls and e-boys, teen gamers who have emerged as the antithesis of Instagram influencers". Business Insider. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  39. Grayson, Nathan (6 March 2020). "Down the Rabbit Hole of Twitch Streamers' TikToks". Kotaku UK. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  40. D'Anastasio, Cecilia (26 July 2019). "Young Women Are Reclaiming The Slur 'Egirl'". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  41. 41.0 41.1 London, Lela (19 July 2019). "Is Belle Delphine proof gaming culture can't escape its hyper-sexualised past?". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 July 2019. Retrieved 21 July 2019.

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