Apparently, a lot of weird things can happen when you decide to sell “gamer girl bath water” on the internet. On July 1, Belle Delphine, a UK-based internet personality known for viral stunts and Patreon-supported NSFW content, announced on her Instagram that she would be selling her bath water to fans via her online store for $30 per jar. On its face, it’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff; for years, people on the internet have been selling all manner of intimate items, from underwear to yes, bath water. Delphine’s decision to market her bath water as belonging to a “gamer girl” in particular is a little unusual. What’s more unusual, though, is how much controversy Delphine’s bath water sale has stirred up since she announced it.
Part of this could be due to Delphine’s sale escaping the orbit of her usual followers. Twitter user @wsupden posted Delphine’s sale in a viral tweet, which likely exposed it to a wider audience. (Delphine would later announce that she sold out in two days’ time, something she said she “didn’t expect”.) Delphine’s sale also almost immediately inspired some vehement reactions, including accusations that her bath water was dangerous or a scam.
Among the accusations were claims that Delphine had herpes and that she had infected those who purchased her bath water. These were fueled largely in part by the (now-suspended) Twitter user BakeRises who, per Snopes, impersonated the UK publication The Daily Mail in order to fabricate a headline about Delphine’s water sale having caused a herpes outbreak.
Yesterday, yet another viral tweet cited an anonymous “molecular biologist” who claimed that Delphine’s bath water was not, in fact, bath water, since it supposedly contains no traces of human DNA. This, the post went on, would mean that her customers had grounds for a class action lawsuit.
Throughout all of this, YouTubers had been uploading videos claiming they had received Delphine’s bath water, although some (like the YouTuber Vito) admitted that they were just pulling a stunt of their own and did not actually have Delphine’s water.
According to Delphine’s social media, no one had the bath water anyway, because it hadn’t yet been shipped to customers when these accusations emerged. This morning, Delphine posted a response to the rumors on both Instagram and Twitter, in which she stated that “nobody has been hospitalised from my bath water, or have gotten sick. All of these memes were posted before I even shipped any out.”
(Delphine did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
There’s one other thing that’s important to understand about Delphine. She is, as Patricia Hernandez noted over at Polygon, a troll. Three weeks ago, Delphine posted a (NSFW) photo on Instagram, writing in the caption that if it got 1 million likes, she’d open up a PornHub account. True to her word, once the post accrued the requisite likes, she did create a PornHub account—and then she proceeded to only post non-pornographic videos that had suggestive titles. It was a wildly successful stunt, one that even PewDiePie got involved in.
It is not a huge stretch to assert that Delphine, who has built up a body of work that can be read as satirical, might be in the midst of some sort of long-term joke here, especially given her long list of stunts that all tend to subvert or toy with well-established fetish tropes. 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. Coupled with the general contempt that mainstream culture holds for sex work and adjacent business practices like the selling of bath water, Delphine’s latest stunt is a perfect storm stirred up in the heart of an internet culture that is still content to objectify women and reacts with anger when said objectification makes the objectifiers the butt of a joke.
Especially when it’s a really good joke.