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4chan camgirl Loli-chan grows up

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Loli-chan was born in March 1993. Her earliest memory is of dressing up in a blue and yellow Snow White costume when she was two years old and posing for pictures. Her father, Jaime, would often build forts with Loli, ensconcing her in a comforter that he said would protect her from the outside world. Mother Ilene was a legal assistant, and the two ran their business in an off-white house they shared with five cats and a dog. (Because exploitative images of Loli still circulate on the web, her name and those of her family have been changed.)

Grandfather Jaime Sr. was a day laborer turned literature professor turned lawyer. He lived in a home on the same street and inspired Loli with a love of learning, but he passed away when she was only eight. Loli was an excellent student, according to her eleventh and twelfth grade English teacher, Maria Ruiz-Legg, who remembers a brilliant writer enamored with the book Grendel and its protagonist, “a misunderstood monster kind of guy.”

Loli and her older brother, Todd, were always kept on a short leash. Although they lived in an idyllic neighborhood lined with bougainvillea, Loli was never allowed to ride her pink Barbie bike without an adult around. She was also taught not to associate with neighborhood kids.

As a quiet child in elementary school, Loli enjoyed drawing with her best friend, a tanned girl who always wore her dark-brown hair in a single braid. All of that ended just before middle school, though. One day the friend said she was only using Loli for her collection of how-to-draw-manga books. “I always thought she drew better than me, so that was weird,” Loli says.

Jaime and Ilene never enrolled Loli in activities or sports, which suited her just fine; she preferred to stay indoors and play video games, anyway. She retreated into the world of Gaia Online, an anime-themed message board that caters to children. She was thirteen years old. Her parents placed no restrictions on the time she was allowed to spend in the family’s computer room, and she was left to her own devices. Loli would post on Gaia for hours, trying to make her avatar perfect.

“I wanted little digital clothes for my little digital person,” she remembers. “So I sent someone pictures of my boobs and vagina.”

She had experimented with sex on Yahoo Chat the year before, when she twelve, having sexually themed conversations with strangers. So, she reasoned, it wouldn’t be that much weirder to take the next step. The whip-smart Loli also realized it could be lucrative.

One day she went into her parents’ bathroom and took close-up photos of her anatomy, which she then traded for a green Mandarin gown worth 12,000 “Gaia Gold” pieces that she used to dress up her avatar. “Honestly, I felt nothing,” she says.

Loli says she became a social outcast in her Catholic middle school after admitting that she was an atheist. She found it easier to make friends online, where her social awkwardness was mediated by distance and the barrier of a computer monitor. It wasn’t long before another e-friend, Josh, introduced her to 4chan.

The lanky, pale-faced boy told Loli that 4chan was more fun than Gaia, but explicitly warned against posting pictures because the forums there were filled with pedophiles.

There were lots of jokes about such men on the boards, but Loli didn’t take the rumors seriously. She began posting photos of herself a year later, thinking the older guys would be amused that “an actual twelve-year-old” was reading their vulgar posts.

The first shot she uploaded to 4chan was benign; Loli had the same cherubic face she has today, but with long, light-brown hair and bangs. She looked even younger than her age, and that fact was exaggerated by a backdrop of dolls and teddy bears. The message written on her upraised hand was “Sup /b/” ― a reference to the site’s board for random, non-anime postings and an homage to Cracky’s “Sup 4chan” introduction. Soon people began referring to her as a Chan, which both empowered her and fueled her desire to post. She says she became addicted to the attention, like a drug, and would check comments on her photos as soon as she got home from school every day.

She hadn’t yet read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, but understood the implication.

“I got given the name Loli because I looked even younger than I actually was,” she says. “And while I initially thought it would be funny, it turned out I was the punch line.”

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Allie Conti
Contact: Allie Conti