Overly Attached Girlfriend: The story of the girl behind the meme

From being hunted down by strangers to forging a YouTube career, Morris' overnight meme status changed her life

 

Maya Oppenheim@mayaoppenheim
Thursday 09 June 2016 12:37
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Morris felt and continues to feel detached from the meme and sees it as an external entity
Morris felt and continues to feel detached from the meme and sees it as an external entity

Laina Morris was inadvertently propelled headfirst into the turbulent world of the internet at the tender age of 20. While her peers were busy cramming for exams, Morris was busy becoming a meme.

Of course, like the overwhelming majority of memes, Morris never planned for this to happen. Back in June 2012, Morris uploaded a video of herself performing a parody to Justin Bieber’s song 'Boyfriend'. In the YouTube clip, she changed the lyrics to “girlfriend” and wrote her particular version from the perspective of a stalker girlfriend. Fast forward a few hours and her video had a million views.

But, alas, this was not the end of it. The next day a Redditor, who goes by the name of yeahhtoast took it upon himself to screen shot the video, photoshop in some white text words, and from there on in, Overly Attached Girlfriend was brought forth to the world.

While the meme fast gained cult status in the playground of the world wide web, the small-town Texan native was forced to pick up the pieces. From one moment to the next, she’d become an overnight internet persona. Morris quickly became the subject of intense scrutiny, with people doing all they could to track her down.

“Strangers were finding my personal Facebook page and talking to my friends,” Morris told Refinery 29 in an interview. “They were finding where I worked and trying to access my college records.”

But this didn't stop Morris deciding to forge a YouTube career on the back of her meme status and becoming a YouTuber. Interestingly and probably unsurprisingly, she struggled to deal with her newly cultivated internet persona. “Part of me wondered if I was supposed to just perform this character forever,” she explained. “Even now, I wonder if I should have created two separate accounts for my own videos vs. Overly Attached Girlfriend.”

Morris felt and continues to feel detached from the meme, seeing it as an external entity. “I feel very detached from the meme, to be honest,” she explained. “I see it and think, ‘Oh, that’s Overly Attached Girlfriend.’ It’s not me.”

Shortly after the meme blew up, Morris quit her job and dropped out of school to become a full-time YouTuber, even investing in professional management. Unlike the stereotype of multi-millionaire YouTubers, Morris is not a millionaire. Although she has 1.2 million YouTube followers on her channel, she rents an apartment and drives a Kia car, and appears to live a relatively ordinary existence.

“I’m really just making this up as I go along,” she explained. “I don’t know if this is going to ‘work out.’ Maybe someday this will just be a cool thing that happened to me, but I’ll make videos as long as I enjoy it and people are watching.”

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