News, Culture & Society

Ex-porn star who filmed in a hijab reveals she struggled with low self-esteem

A former porn star who received death threats for filming in a hijab has opened up about how struggling with her weight as a child and low self-esteem led her to join the adult film industry.  

Before becoming one of the most famous faces in porn, Mia Khalifa, 26, was just like any other 20-something American girl. The Lebanon native emigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child and studied history at the University of Texas.

During a recent interview with Stephen Sackur on BBC’s HARDtalk, she was asked to explain what drove her to star in adult films fresh out of college after being approached by a man on the street. 

  

Her story: Former porn star Mia Khalifa, 26, opened up about her experience in the adult film industry during her recent interview with Stephen Sackur on BBC’s HARDtalk

Looking back: The Lebanon native said she struggled with her weight growing up, and her issues with self-esteem led her to start working as an adult film star

Looking back: The Lebanon native said she struggled with her weight growing up, and her issues with self-esteem led her to start working as an adult film star

‘I don’t think low self-esteem discriminates against anyone,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t matter if you come from a great family or if you come from a not-so-great background. 

Mia explained that her self-esteem issues started at an early age, and part of her interest in porn stemmed from wanting to feel attractive. 

‘I struggled my entire childhood with weight. I never felt attractive or worthy of male attention,’ she recalled. ‘Suddenly, my first year of college, I start losing all this weight from making small changes.’

Mia lost about 50 pounds but was left feeling insecure about her breasts, which were the ‘first things to go’ when she lost weight. 

The college graduate opted for breast augmentation, and after that, she said she ‘started getting a lot of attention from men’ that she wasn’t used to. 

A part of her feared that if she didn’t do what men asked of her or expected from her, the attention would go away. 

Hard to handle: Mia said she 'never felt attractive,' but after losing 50 pounds and having a breast augmentation, she started to get a lot of male attention

Hard to handle: Mia said she 'never felt attractive,' but after losing 50 pounds and having a breast augmentation, she started to get a lot of male attention

Hard to handle: Mia said she ‘never felt attractive,’ but after losing 50 pounds and having a breast augmentation, she started to get a lot of male attention 

‘After feeling what it was like, that validation and the compliments for the first time, I did not want that to go away,’ she admitted. 

Mia was in Miami when a man approached her about joining the adult film industry, but she explained he wasn’t immediately forthcoming about what he was really asking.   

‘It wasn’t just, “Hey, do you want to come do porn?”‘ she recalled. ‘It was more, “Oh, you’re beautiful. Would you like to do some modeling? Oh, you know, you have a great body, I think you would be great in nude modeling.” Things like that.’ 

She said the studio was ‘very respectable’ and in a ‘gorgeous location.’ It was clean, the people were friendly, and employees’ cubicles were decorated with family photos. There was nothing that made her feel uncomfortable. 

‘I don’t really see myself as a victim. I don’t like that word,’ she said. ‘I did make my own decisions, even though they were terrible decisions. I think that something needs to change in the way women are approached.’  

Flattered: Mia was a recent college graduate living in Miami when a man approached her on the street about 'modeling' before revealing he actually worked in adult films

Flattered: Mia was a recent college graduate living in Miami when a man approached her on the street about ‘modeling’ before revealing he actually worked in adult films 

Unforgettable: She said she never wanted to be famous and thought it would be her 'dirty little secret,' but it ended up blowing up in her face

Unforgettable: She said she never wanted to be famous and thought it would be her ‘dirty little secret,’ but it ended up blowing up in her face 

Mia stressed that producers can’t force film stars to do a sex act they don’t want to do, but she admitted she had ‘very little say’ during filming when it came to the theme and location.   

She explained that she doesn’t even really remember what it was like to film sex acts because her adrenaline was running so high at the time.   

‘I shocked even myself,’ she said of the decision that not only changed her life but also destroyed her relationship with her family.  

‘They disowned me when they found out. I felt completely alienated by not just the world, but my family and the people around me,’ she said. ‘Especially after I quit, when I was still alone, even though I left. And I just realized some mistakes aren’t forgivable. But time heals all wounds, and things are getting better now.’

When asked if she had any qualms about filming in a hijab, Mia said she told the producers they were going to get her killed, but they just laughed.

Scary: Mia is best known for performing sex acts while wearing a hijab, a scene that launched her to fame and led to death threats from ISIS

Scary: Mia is best known for performing sex acts while wearing a hijab, a scene that launched her to fame and led to death threats from ISIS

Intimidated:  When asked if she had any qualms about filming in a hijab, Mia said she told the producers they were going to get her killed, but they just laughed

Intimidated:  When asked if she had any qualms about filming in a hijab, Mia said she told the producers they were going to get her killed, but they just laughed

Though it was ultimately her choice to film it, she admitted she felt too nervous to tell them she wasn’t willing to do it, especially after the reaction she got when she voiced her concerns.   

‘When there are four white male producers in the room and you say something like to them and they all just laugh, I mean, it’s kind of devastating,’ she said. ‘It makes you not want to speak up and say anything again.’

Mia said the video, which launched her to viral stardom, ‘shattered’ her world. She never intended to be a famous porn star, far from it.   

‘The reason I thought it was okay for me to do porn was because I thought no one would ever find out about it,’ she said. ‘There’s millions of girls who film themselves having sex and do things like that and no one knows their name. No one knows who they are. No one recognizes them. 

‘I wanted to do it as my dirty little secret, but it blew up in my face.’ 

Unforgettable: Mia only worked in the porn industry for three months, but she is still one of the most famous faces in adult entertainment

Unforgettable: Mia only worked in the porn industry for three months, but she is still one of the most famous faces in adult entertainment 

Keeping it real: Mia said she takes 100 per cent responsibility for what happened to her, though she admitted she made 'terrible' decisions

Keeping it real: Mia said she takes 100 per cent responsibility for what happened to her, though she admitted she made ‘terrible’ decisions 

Hard to handle: Mia has gone from a porn star to a social media influencer. She has more than 16.7 million Instagram followers

Hard to handle: Mia has gone from a porn star to a social media influencer. She has more than 16.7 million Instagram followers

Mia said the backlash was swift. She recalled ISIS sympathizers threatening her by Photoshopping her face on someone who was getting beheaded. They hacked into her Instagram account and posted propaganda. 

After someone shared a screenshot of a Google Maps that showed the location of her apartment, she moved. 

A month after the hijab video debuted, Mia resigned from porn. She only worked in adult entertainment for three months before she left the industry in 2015, but she is still one of the biggest names — and most searched stars — in the business. 

Though she made millions of dollars for BangBros, the company she was signed with, and the adult film site Pornhub, she only received a grand total of $12,000 for the 12 videos she starred in during her short career.  

She was ranked number two on Pornhub for most-searched stars last year, right behind Stormy Daniels, according to Vice. She was also the most-searched star on rival adult website xHamster in 2016 and 2017. 

Say what? Mia revealed on Twitter she only made a total of $12,000 for the 12 films she starred in. She doesn't receive any residuals, despite making other companies millions

Say what? Mia revealed on Twitter she only made a total of $12,000 for the 12 films she starred in. She doesn’t receive any residuals, despite making other companies millions 

Still struggling: Mia said she still has PTSD when she is out in public. When people stare at her, she feels like they can see through her clothes

Still struggling: Mia said she still has PTSD when she is out in public. When people stare at her, she feels like they can see through her clothes 

Mia, who doesn’t see any residuals from her work, believes it’s a common misconception that she is still making money from her videos. 

‘People think I’m racking in millions from porn. Completely untrue. I made a TOTAL of around $12,000 in the industry and never saw a penny again after that. Difficulty finding a normal job after quitting porn was… scary,’ she tweeted earlier this month.  

The former adult film star explained during her appearance on HARDtalk that it was ‘very hard’ for her to date after her rise to fame. 

‘I don’t think it was hard for me to date because it was hard for me to find a man. It was hard to find somebody who wasn’t into it,’ she admitted. 

Mia got engaged to her fiancé Robert Sandberg earlier this year, but she said she still feels PTSD when she is out in public. 

‘The stares I get, I feel like people can see through my clothes and it brings me deep shame,’ she admitted. ‘It makes me feel like I lost all right to my privacy, which I did because I am one Google search away.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.