Ermahgerd! The Girl Behind The Meme Opens Up About Internet Fame

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As actors, pop stars, and politicians likely know, waking up to find your face plastered all over the Internet rarely results in anything good. Of course, most of us "normals" probably don't consider that it could happen to us too, especially if an ill-considered Tweet or embarrassing photo falls into the wrong feed.

As Vanity Fair explains, such was the case for Maggie Goldenberger, who discovered at age 23 that a photo of her snapped maybe a dozen years earlier had suddenly taken the World Wide Web by storm. The image began its meteoric rise into the meme Hall of Fame in 2012 after a 16-year-old Canadian “pretty much just found the picture randomly” while cruising public Facebook photos and posted it to Reddit.

Since then, VF reports, the photo has been viewed more than five million times in 340-plus iterations, bringing the term “ermahgerd”—added to the photo by another Reddit user shortly after its upload—to the online masses. What most people don't realize, however, is that the photo so loved for its display of preteen awkwardness was actually part of a game of dress-up, in which Goldenberger was attempting to amuse her friends by imitating bizarre characters.

Goldenberger wasn’t the first to have been unwittingly rocketed to Internet celebrity, of course, and she certainly won’t be the last. For more on what your favorite memes are up to now, check out mental_flossrecent round-up, which includes updates about Sammy Griner, the famously no-nonsense baby, and model Kerin Portillo, who revealed in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit that the exposure she got from serving as the face of “Sheltered College Freshman” led to lots more work.

[h/t Vanity Fair]