camgirl
(CAM.gurl) n. A girl or young woman who broadcasts live pictures of herself over the World Wide Web. Also: cam-girl, cam girl, Webcam girl.

Example Citation:
In the past couple of years there has been an online explosion in the number of personal Webcam sites. More people are choosing to live in front of a camera, hooked up to the Internet via a high-speed connection. Most are girls and young women broadcasting from the most private spaces of their bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms. These "camgirls" rule the world of amateur Web sites, attracting thousands of hits daily. Some have become self-made celebrities. Some are as young as 14, but the majority are in their late teens and 20s. The sites range from the crude to the sophisticated and are so diverse it is risky to make generalisations. But most feature live cameras and/or digital still shots, links to other places on the Internet, diary entries and biographical information.

The most controversial common feature of these worldwide cam sites is the amazon.com "wish list". Camgirls encourage their fans to buy them books, CDs and other gifts via the American online company.
—Susan Hopkins, "Girls Just Want To Be Seen," Sydney Morning Herald, August 10, 2002

Earliest Citation:
The search for an Internet "cam-girl" approaches its grubby conclusion. Of the three finalists for the Bravo TV competition, heavily plugged by the red top papers for the last few weeks, 23-year-old Essex girl Kate Bird looks favourite for the job of having her every bedroom move broadcast on the Internet by way of a "live" camera mounted on her bedpost.
—Edward Marriott and Lisa O'Carroll, "In the air," The Evening Standard (London), January 28, 1998

Notes:
I strive to be a disinterested chronicler of new words, but sometimes I just have to shake my head. Who would offer up great gobs of their personal life as broadcast fodder for the online masses? Why would someone turn their life into a digital peepshow?

I was tempted to dismiss this as a bizarre hobby, just some phase that a few teenagers with exhibitionistic tendencies were going through. But then I read that there are actually thousands of camgirls out there. (And, yes, there are plenty of camboys, too.) Clearly there are larger forces at work here.

According to Susan Hopkins, the author of the example citation as well as the book Girl Heroes, for some kids the constant surveillance of a Webcam affirms their identity. Young people feel validated because they're like, you know, sorta kinda on TV, and only celebrities and important people appear on TV. It's the same impulse that provides a never-ending cast of unembarrassed guests for The Jerry Springer Show; it's why TV crews never seem to have trouble finding someone to interview after a disaster or tragedy, no matter how grief-stricken or shocked that person may be. The camgirls talk about "artistic expression" and "empowerment," and I'm sure that's true for some. But for most of them the omnipresent eye of the Webcam serves only to validate their existence. I cam, therefore I am.

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