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The most well-known egirls are a distributed vision, an internet melt, collectively funded, in part, by fans’ thirst. They’re queens of the parasocial microcelebrity thing, charging $25 to $35 a month for OnlyFans “gamer girl” lewds or $25 for cosplay photosets. “It’s one of those fantasy things,” says Rusty Fawkes, an egirl with 1.5 million TikTok followers. On her OnlyFans, Fawkes posts cosplay-inspired lewds, titties out, in wigs and kitty ears. This isn’t actually how girls play video games, she says. We don’t put on a full face of makeup, a wig, and a Darling in the Franxx cosplay to zone out to some Valorant. (Sometimes viewers point out to her that her controller isn’t turned on.)

It’s hyperbole. It’s abstracted. And, Fawkes says, “it’s sexualized for them. I mean, hey, if it’s something you can market, and you want to market it, like, why not?” In 2019, egirl Belle Delphine posted an image of herself in a bathtub with her pink gaming controller: “i am now selling my BATH WATER for all you THIRSTY gamer boys 💦.” $30. It instantly sold out. One particularly enterprising PC builder peddled Belle Delphine bathwater–cooled PCs for $1,500.

This genre of professional egirl also invokes a question central to its existence: Is this a liberation? Upstream of egirl are the Rococo-inspired Japanese lolitas—in fluffy dresses with cupcakes, Victorian doll Mary Janes, and lace socks. They might seem, at face, infantilizing, an appeal to male obsession with young women. It is Lolita after all. Lolita devotees would say it’s more subversive than infantilizing. It’s anti-male gaze. It’s a deflective childishness, head-to-toe body armor against reality. More like dolls than humans.

If egirls are dolls, people are having a lot of fun dressing them up.

Maybe egirls are the natural conclusion to Donna Haraway’s 1985 cyberfeminist ideal: “creatures simultaneously animal and machine who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted.” Online catgirls in curated bedrooms. In high-pitched baby voice, there is producer Senzawa’s 2018 egirl anthem, reminiscent of an NSFW 2000s furry chat room role-play: Rawr!! x3 nuzzles pounces on u / uwu u so warm. Was Haraway wrong?

Caldwell is firm that egirl is empowering. She’s not doing it for men, she says, or anyone else. And kids don’t have a monopoly on cute shit. People take everything so seriously. “Yes, I game,” Caldwell mouths in another TikTok meme. She’s wearing a plushy pink bra with dangling bunny ears and matching fluffy short-shorts. “I know I don’t look like your ‘typical’ gamer, but look,” she says. The camera cuts to a video of her playing a video game on her tricked-out gaming PC. She’s moving a sponge across a dish and bobbing her head rhythmically.

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