18 Dec 18
CINDY Cottrell left home at 15 after a row with her mum and moved into a dingy flat in a rough area of Birmingham.
She fell pregnant at 17, and survived on just £42.50 a week in benefits. Her first Christmas as a mum in 2002 saw her cry over a Pot Noodle and gift her seven-month-old son Jack* a £5 rattle.
Cindy was a teen mum who couldn’t afford a Christmas dinner, but now she lives a lavish lifestyle
But now, 14 years on, her lifestyle is completely different. She plans to splash £1,000 on gifts this December 25 and tuck into smoked salmon – and it’s all thanks to webcam work.
Here Cindy tells Fabulous Digital her extraordinary rags to riches story:
Spicy Pot Noodles were all I could afford to eat on Christmas Day in 2002.
I was 18 years old and my baby, Jack, watched me curiously as I handed him the only present I’d been able to buy: a cheap rattle.
He was too young to know how awful a Christmas it was, but it was the worst I’d ever had.
Cindy is looking forward to a bumper Christmas with her mum and son Jack
I felt like an inadequate mother. I shouldn’t have had a child if I couldn’t provide for him and I swore in that moment, I’d do whatever I could to ensure he had the life he deserved.
I’d left home when I was 15 after a silly fight with my mum. A charity had found me a flat in a dodgy area of Birmingham. I was too proud to go home and too young to know better.
I was supposed to be at college but, on benefits receiving £42.50 a week, I couldn’t even afford to get there.
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Then I got pregnant. I wasn’t in a relationship but when Jack was born, I felt like my life had purpose.
I’d never loved anyone as much and just wished I didn’t have to take Jack home to my squalid flat. I’d had a lovely childhood, my mum worked hard running her own marketing company and Christmas was my favourite time of year.
It felt magical seeing the presents pile up under the tree. I didn’t want Jack to grow up remembering Christmas as a miserable time of year, when his penniless mother ate noodles and cried.
Cindy started webcam work in her late teens, following the arrival of her son
When a friend suggested I get into webcam work – where you undress for men – I was disgusted at first. But from a point of desperation, I decided to give it a go.
Although it was pretty sleazy thinking of anonymous men getting off while they watched me online, I’d never earned so much money. My first paycheque was £3,000 – that was a week’s work.
The following Christmas, I made sure Jack was spoiled rotten. He was a toddler then, overwhelmed by all the toys I’d bought him, as well as £50 Hugo Boss T-shirts and £150 Evisu jeans.
I bought more food than we could ever possibly eat, decorations for every pokey corner of our horrible flat, and best of all, a real Christmas tree.
Cindy now lives a life of luxury, funded for by her webcam work
I felt so proud of myself. I’d given Jack the same feeling I had as a child.
These days, I earn £400 for three hours webcam work a day. I get dressed up then wait for men to connect to view me. It’s pretty lurid, but they then watch me until they are done. I take my time, because they’re paying £4 a minute for the privilege.
I can have as many as 10 viewers at any one time, all paying £4 a minute. Some clients just want to watch, others want to chat. Many of them are married.
They tell me their sex life isn’t great but they don’t want to cheat, and watching a girl on a webcam isn’t technically cheating.
I’m gifted Agent Provocateur underwear, Jimmy Choo shoes, perfume, wine and flowers. I have to look the part, so I have regular Botox and lip fillers and I spend money on makeup, lingerie, good shoes and nice dresses.
When my mum first found out, she was shocked. But I showed her how it works. I come to no harm, no-one knows where I live, I don’t meet anyone in real life.
Cindy, with her boy, will spend £1,000 on him this year
As she watched my earnings literally roll in on the screen, she laughed and said: ‘Fair play! I wish I’d done that when I was young.’
Last Christmas, I paid for mum, Jack and me to go to Cyprus. We swam in the pool and topped up our tans.
I bought Jack chunky gold chain necklaces, a £750 Stone Island tracksuit, a £350 Gucci belt. He knows what I do and he doesn’t mind – he knows my life choices pay for our lifestyle.
If he asked me to give it all up, I’d do it in a heartbeat but Jack is headstrong, like me. When kids at school have asked him about it, he points out that he’s the one in designer clothes.
At the start of this year, I did start to think maybe I should get a proper job. I’d been doing webcams for so long, I wondered what it would be like to be normal.
So, I got a job in a department store instead. It was a shock to the system. On diddly squat an hour, suddenly I couldn’t afford to do all the things I took for granted.
I lasted three skint months then quit and went back to the webcam.
Cindy, pictured with her boy, enjoys lavish nights out and designer clothes
My friends sometimes ask if I think they could do webcams. I warn them that once you’re in this world, it’s hard to get out.
You become accustomed to the lifestyle and earning big, easy money. I don’t want to do this forever and I have started saving, as I’d like to become an estate agent one day but it’s hard to imagine ever getting used to a normal salary.
One sacrifice I’ve had to make is that I’ve never found lasting love.
But I’m building a life for me and Jack and I don’t need a man telling me I can’t. The only man who could ever stop me doing this is Jack.
Now I can afford to live in a lovely, new apartment in a new part of the city. I’ve styled it beautifully, with wooden flooring and sparkling things everywhere you look. Our home reminds me why I do what I do.
Cindy says Jack is aware of her webcam work
This Christmas, I’ll be spending at least £1,000 on Jack’s presents. I’ll be going out with my friends for a posh dinner on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve is always expensive.
There will be a new dress for every Christmas party. I’ll spend hundreds of pounds on food for mum, Jack and me, plus all the new decorations for the tree – which will, as always, be a real pine tree.
It’s not always easy. Sometimes I don’t really feel like being sexy but I have to dress up and play the part.
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It can all feel a bit tedious, but as much as I don’t enjoy the work, I enjoy the money and the freedom. If Jack’s off school, I don’t work and I don’t have to explain myself to a boss.
I call the shots. I don’t work at 3am, I don’t wander the streets. One day, I’ll give it all up but for now, I’m too busy enjoying the life the webcam’s given me.
Meanwhile, Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson, who turned to webcam work to make money, slams beauty double standards and says it’s ‘old-fashioned to think you can’t be sexy and a feminist’.
Cam girls reveal how much they can make a day by stripping for webcams.
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