Poot Lovato isn’t as famous as her twin sister, pop star Demi Lovato, and she’s had to overcome the adversity of spending the majority of her life in a basement, but Poot has persevered. According to Time magazine, Poot is one of 2015’s most influential fictional characters.
Poot burst forth onto the internet in October as a Tumblr joke about an awkward 2014 photo of Demi, Photoshopped to make her cheeks look bigger and her eyes farther apart. The photo was said to show the first time “Poot” was allowed outside.
And once she was out, she rapidly took on a fictional life outside of her celebrity “sister.” Poot fans created an official Twitter account and a 24-part fanfiction biography, and BuzzFeed dedicated an article to the new star on the occasion of her ascent from the cellar.
But what elevates Poot from unflattering picture of a popular singer to a full-fledged “influential fictional character”?
For Time’s Daniel D’Addario, it’s that the rise of Poot showed “how Internet fandom can redefine celebrities’ carefully groomed images.”
He’s got a point: Demi absolutely hated Poot. She posted and deleted a couple of tweets incensed that a “shitty angle” could make actual “headlines.”
It’s understandable that she’d be upset. Here’s the moment of Poot’s creation, as captured by a real photographer with a real camera:
Hardly a basement-dwelling monster. And Poot became a meme shortly after Demi’s stripped-down, un-retouched Vanity Fair shoot, which was intended to cement her confident new persona and strike a blow against body-image issues.
“I went from being in a place where I was suffering from an eating disorder and hating every single inch of my body to now baring my legs and showing more skin in front of the whole world and being proud of my body instead of loathing it,” she said.
But as Time pointed out, the internet has made it difficult, if not impossible, to control their own narratives — even when those narratives are positive and uplifting. Now Poot is the subject of her own makeup tutorials:
It’s not the lesson Lovato was going for, but it’s valuable in its own way: You can control what you put out there, but you can’t control what people do with it. Sometimes you aim for confident and end up with Poot.