Sometime in late 2019, Diana Deets started changing face. An Instagram influencer and OnlyFans adult content creator going by Coconut Kitty, Deets had till that point looked like a woman in her late twenties to mid-thirties. In her new pictures, however – while her body remained unchanged – her face gradually morphed into something otherworldly: her chin became pointy, her lips waxed into a perma-pout, her eyes grew bigger and languid. Some argued that she looked considerably younger. Some said she looked like a teenager.
Deets’s fans appreciated the transformation. She says that, before the change, she had about 700,000 followers on Instagram, and since then they have risen “exponentially” to over three million. On OnlyFans, where she publishes explicit pictures and videos also sporting her new face, Deets has amassed 10,700 paying subscribers each shelling out £8 a month – 80 per cent of which goes directly to her.
But someone else has noticed the metamorphosis, too. In October 2020, people on Reddit started discussing how Deets had clearly been using digital editing to restyle herself as a “prepubescent” girl, with many labelling the move “disturbing”. In early July 2021, popular TikToker Bekah Day posted a video eviscerating Coconut Kitty for modifying her features to look “like a young teenager”, straight-up accusing her of pandering to the “p-word” (i.e. paedophile) cohort. Several other videos from various TikTokers followed, riffing on the allegation. Deets says they are all “hilarious” and “wrong”. She laments having received “lots of” hate and threatening messages, and having lost one of her sponsors, Fashion Nova, following the controversy. Fashion Nova did not respond to a request for comment.
In her retelling, the tweaking of her face into Coconut Kitty’s cartoonishly youthful simulacrum sits at the intersection of privacy and performance art. Deets says she had become weary of being recognised in public by her online fans, and that on top of that she was looking for a way to grow her profile in order to sell her paintings. Hence, she tried her hand at visual modification – “I am a completely self taught digital artist,” Deets says. “I started trying these editing programmes, messing around with them,” she says of her digitally-altered persona. Deets is cagey about the exact techniques she uses, but what we know is that eventually the new Coconut Kitty was born. (Deets has since given up on capitalising on the buzz to sell her paintings. She says that most prospective buyers who got in touch with her did not strike her as “art connoisseurs” and seemed more interested in chatting her up.)
Deets denies having consciously gunned for a teenage or even youthful look. The inspiration for Coconut Kitty’s face, she says, came more from anime characters or Disney princesses – all of whom tend indeed to be very young (Snow White is 14, Jasmine is 15, while Ariel and Aurora are both 16), but, first and foremost, Deets says, are paragons of idealised feminine beauty.
“Let’s look at their eyes, their chins,” Deets says of Disney princesses. “Do they have a youthful face? I was not intending to go for a youthful face. I was just trying to go for a character’s face. Coconut Kitty is no different than Jessica Rabbit – a fictional character, a fantasy.”
Any argument that Deets is catering to paedophiles is hard to back up. Henry Adjer, a deepfake and digital media expert, says that it is nigh-on impossible to accurately determine the age of a face. “In some cases, you can argue that a face is clearly too young. But I don’t think [Deets’s] is in that place. You’d probably argue that [Coconut Kitty’s] face is certainly 16 and above, probably 18 or 19,” he says. “I don’t think there is a way of saying definitely how old a face is.” (Deets won’t say how old she is in real life).