Zoe Roth, the face behind the famous 'Disaster Girl' meme speaks out

The famous photo of Zoe Roth, who was four years old at the time, taken by her father Dave.
The famous photo of Zoe Roth, who was four years old at the time, taken by her father Dave.

Do you remember Disaster Girl? The adorable but evil little girl in this photo?

Since its creation in 2004, this hilarious image has become one of the internet's most popular memes.

'Disaster Girl's real name is Zoe Roth, a 16-year-old from Lake Tahoe on the US east coast, and she's spoken out for the first time about how the photo was created.

She was four years old in 2004 and was watching television with her brother Tristan one morning when her mum said a house down the street was on fire.

Her father, Dave Roth, quickly gathered his family and his new digital camera and went to check out the blaze.

The whole street looked on as firefighters controlled the blaze, which was now well under control.

"There was no danger or stress in the situation at all," Dave told Refinery 29. "The kids and I walked around to see the fire from different angles. It was cool - something you don't see every day."

He took around 30 photos of his children watching the fire, then headed home to check them out. It was actually three years later that he uploaded one of the images of Zoe on photo sharing community Zooomr and titled it "Firestarter."

Immediately, the comments started pouring in.

"I guess because I knew the whole backstory, I'd overlooked the expression on Zoe's face until then," he said.

"But someone with a blank slate has to make sense of the fire in the background and then the little girl with a creepy half-smile. It's like something out of a horror movie."

In November 2007, Dave entered the image into a competition run by a photography magazine and he won. As part of his prize, the magazine published his winning image. Zoe was now eight years old.

"My dad handed me a magazine, and I started flipping through it," Zoe said. "Then I saw the picture of me - and I flipped out! I took it to school the next day and showed everyone."

Zoe's face has since been Photoshopped onto images of famous events, including the death of Jesus and OJ Simpson's court trial.

Despite seeing her face on some pretty disturbing images, Zoe says she's proud to be Disaster Girl.

"There was one with my face on Hitler's body that made me a little uncomfortable," she said. "Or last year, some Instagram account used the original picture with a caption about not being able to wave a Confederate flag, and I was like, 'Ewww.'"

Dave has received offers to buy the image, but says he'll never sell it.

"A few years back, a guy in Spain wanted to buy permanent rights to the photo," Dave said. "I don't know what he was willing to pay, but I'd rather just hold on to it and protect it. This is probably the only picture I'll ever take that generates this kind of interest, but I never took it with the idea of making money. I didn't even edit it!"

Zoe, on the other hand, isn't averse to making money off her notoriety.

"I'd love for the meme to help me get into or pay for college somehow," she said. "But I ultimately want people to know me for me."

- news.com.au

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