real life

Sarah Joy shared her 'Amish' life on TikTok. Now she's being called a fraud.

We all know the internet can be a weird and wonderful place, and when social media platform TikTok launched in 2016, it cracked open a whole new world, allowing users and followers to tap into the lives of people they otherwise would never have known about.

Fairly 'ordinary' people in extraordinary circumstances have cultivated quite a following on TikTok for sharing their everyday lives to the masses. One such user who has experienced massive growth on the platform has been Sarah Joy aka @thatplaingirl, who at one point had amassed 500,000 followers thanks to her candid videos explaining what life was like in the Mennonite community.

She rose to fame and found a different community — the online community — who seemed to support her in ways she always yearned for.

And then, they turned their backs on her.

Once a social media influencer, Joy suddenly was being accused of fraud before she made a dramatic exit from TikTok. Now, authorities are concerned for her wellbeing.

Who is Sarah Joy?

Sarah Joy first started posting content on TikTok detailing her 'plain life', which is a colloquial term used for people living in Amish or Mennonite communities, in which they wear plain clothing and, in many cases, abstain from using technology.

What initially fascinated many followers was Joy's willingness to bare all when it came to like living in a plain community. But in some of her clips, the rising TikTok star began alluding to suffering from abuse. She also claimed to have tried to end her own life in 2022. 

It was this openness in sharing the alleged darker side of her community that garnered her such a huge following on TikTok.

Sarah Joy. Image: TikTok/@thatplaingirl.

Joy became something of a vigilante whistleblower for former members of Amish and Mennonite communities who had suffered abuse. Her account became a place for victim-survivors to gather, share their stories and find connection with others who had experienced similar trauma.

While the subject matter was troubling, the community built around Joy's content seemed to be having a positive impact. Until the conspiracy theories started seeping through.

Watch: The Children of God cult — a history. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Inside the Sarah Joy fraud claims.

In March 2024, rumours about the validity of Joy's claims began gaining traction on TikTok, with some users alleging the TikTok star was not, in fact, part of the 'plain life' community at all. According to their accusations, her content was all an act, and Joy had never lived in the Amish or Mennonite communities.

One TikTok user even claimed that Joy lives not far from her in a regular town, not an Amish community.

@p3xkz She literally lives in fort ashby and im in wiley ford. 🙈 #sarahjoy #fyp #amish #wv ♬ just a girl - marley

Another user set out to poke holes in Joy's identity by revealing videos of her alleged parents in content shared to their Facebook page. The people present in the videos appear to be speaking from a church, but are not wearing clothing typically seen on Amish or Mennonite community members.

@xrobinx91 I really wanted to believe you @Sarahjoy. If this was for comedy or something - your departure is not landing as you had planned. #fyp #fypシ #foryourpage #foryoufeed #sarahjoy #whathappened #whathappenedtosarahjoy? #wheressarah #mennonite #amish #amishtiktok #news #whereissarahjoy #freesarahjoy #theplaingirl #thatplaingirl #plaingirl #plainstore #theplainstore #amishgonewild #fake ♬ original sound - Robin w/ an I 😞😎😏

Whether or not the people in these videos are actually Joy's parents hasn't been verified, but the theories were enough to turn many of her former followers against her. In their eyes, her content had become little more than cosplay and many felt deceived.

Sarah Joy disappears from TikTok.

At the same time as the online community began to question Joy's legitimacy, the content creator made an abrupt exit from TikTok. In a now widely shared video, Joy can be seen stoney faced and seemingly fearful as she addresses followers.

"This is the last TikTok I am making while I'm still in the community," she said. 

"It has been very nice getting to know all of you and I appreciate the opportunity that you have given me to talk about the community. I wish you all well."

@reyahthelastdragon #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen #sarahjoy #thatplaingirl #amish #plainpeople #mennonites ♬ Very Sad - Enchan

She looks nervous, her eyes darting to something the viewer can't see off camera — and it was alarming to watch. Had the conspiracy theorists gotten it wrong? Was this an unwarranted witch hunt on an innocent woman who was suffering within her strict religious faction?


Then Joy shut down her account completely.

Her abrupt exit from TikTok left many with questions — and given her demeanour in her final video, many — even those who had doubted her authenticity — began to fear for her wellbeing. Because if the theories about Joy being a fraud ended up being false, her disappearance from social media could indicate that members of her Mennonite community had found out about her content and punished her for it.

The guidelines around technology use differ between Mennonite and Amish communities. Sometimes these rules will be more or less strict depending on which community you live in — and while some Mennonite communities have been known to be a lot less conservative when it comes to modern technology, with many members allowed to have smart phones and social media, in more strict Amish communities, modern technology usage is often seen as a gateway to sin and corruption.

In an effort to discourage this behaviour they may threaten to "shun" a community member if they have been found using modern technology like smart phones and social media. The act of "shunning" cuts the community member off from their social circles, including family, friends and work associates. This is seen as a painful punishment as they are ostracised and prevented from participating in community activities.

Though it wasn't clear why Joy had abandoned social media, her followers became divided, with comments swinging from vitriolic damnation to genuine words of support and worry.

"To anyone in the Amish community that's not even supposed to have any account, just know that there are people that do respect your wishes. To Sarah, I want to apologise and I hope you're okay," wrote one user.


"I just fell down the rabbit hole of finding out about this," wrote another. "I really was so concerned about her too. Now I'm pissed off."

While online conjecture around Joy's online whereabouts was reaching fever pitch, IRL, things were also getting serious too, with multiple calls being made to police asking them to do welfare checks on the young woman.

The Mineral County Emergency Management Office confirmed to Daily Mail that multiple calls had been made enquiring after Joy's wellbeing, and that a formal investigation had been opened.

What seemed like a simple story about a TikTok user finding a large following on the social media platform had now taken a seemingly dark turn — and plenty of questions had been left unanswered.

Where is Sarah Joy now?

Amid the growing concern for Joy, another TikTok user, The Misfit Amish, claimed contact had been made with the beleaguered content creator, and announced she is "physically safe".

@the.misfit.amish Replying to @leftielac what happened to Sarah Joy @𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝕄𝕚𝕤𝕗𝕚𝕥 𝔸𝕞𝕚𝕤𝕙 #plainpeoplearenotabovethelaw #plainwomen #themisfitamish ♬ original sound - Misfit Amish

They went on to says that Joy had a message for concerned followers, asking them to stop calling police for welfare checks.

This TikTok user's claims have yet to be verified, but we hope for the sake of everyone involved it is legitimate intel.

While there is still a lot unknown about Sarah Joy's wellbeing and her story, this whole ordeal proves how a fickle the online world can be. We can only hope she's safe and well.

Feature Image: TikTok/@thatplaingirl.