Why everyone’s talking about Belle Delphine’s bath water
Instagram model’s bizarre merchandise has become viral sensation
Anyone who has spent time online in the past fortnight is likely to have heard the name “Belle Delphine”, after the social media star announced she was selling jars of her used bath water to fans.
So is the story for real - or just another murky viral hoax? We break it down:
Who is Belle Delphine?
Belle Delphine - real name Mary-Belle Kirschner - is a 19-year-old British social media star with more than four million Instagram followers.
She first rose to fame last year on the gaming and anime scene as a cosplay model - someone who dresses as their favourite characters, often in highly elaborate detail - and quickly gained notoriety for her “ahegao” poses.
Good question. Ahegao is a Japanese term for the exaggerated facial expressions used in manga and anime to communicate intense pleasure, usually sexual.
So what does it look like? One fan has helpfully made a compilation of Delphine’s ahegao looks:
What does bath water have to do with it?
At the start of July, Delphine uploaded a video of herself in a tub, filling jars with the bath water - which can be yours for the princely sum of $30 (£24) a jar, via her online merchandise store.
Needless to say, the stunt triggered an instant reaction from fans and quickly rippled out to the mainstream.
“Some people were grossed out, some people thought it was hilarious, and others couldn’t believe this was actually real,” says internet humour hub eBaum’s World.
Is she for real?
Yes and no. Delphine is known for exploiting her sex object image to prank horny fans eager to see her cross the line from titillation to pornography.
In a message on her Instagram account last month, she promised to set up an account on X-rated website Pornhub if her post received a million likes - a target met within days.
Amid fever-pitch speculation from hot and bothered fans, “she uploaded a total of 12 non-pornographic videos with provoking titles” to Pornhub, says internet culture compendium Know Your Meme.
“For example, a video titled ‘Belle Delphine strokes two BIG cocks’ contained footage of Delphine petting two roosters,” the website explains.
The bath water gag has a similar tongue-in-cheek tone, with Delphine posting that the she was selling the product “for all you THIRSTY gamer boys”.
She later tweeted: “I am now selling my bath water! This is what humanity has come to.”
“She’s almost like a parody of the kind of girl these dudes want,” sex and technology writer Lux Alptraum told Rolling Stone magazine. “She’s very directly playing into the sensibilities of these men.”
That said, while selling vials of her bath water might be a gimmick, it is not a hoax. Jars can be purchased on Delphine’s website, with a disclaimer on the listing clarifying: “This really is bath water… This water is not for drinking and should only be used for sentimental purposes.” Whatever those are.
Have there been any takers?
Of course there have. In fact, less than a week after Delphine posted the bathtub video, the jars were listed as sold out.
Myth-busting website Snopes confirms that at least two YouTubers have “received delivery of the ‘GamerGirl Bath Water’... although we can’t confirm that the packages they received contained bath water (as opposed to some other kind of water)”.
The website adds that the already bizarre saga has been “made even more bizarre with the addition of a fake viral outbreak”.
A fake Twitter account posing as the Daily Mail claimed that dozens of fans had contracted herpes after drinking their jars of bath water. The author of the tweet later came forward to admit the viral (in both senses) story was completely false.
All the same, that doesn’t mean fans aren’t drinking the stuff. In an article for the US Spectator entitled “I drank Belle Delphine’s GamerGirl Bath Water, now my tummy hurts”, Charlie Nash documents has experience of doing just that, “in the name of journalism”.
His verdict? “Normal enough to be drinkable if you were dehydrated in the Australian outback, dying of thirst, but too weird to drink with a ready meal at home.” So now you know.