August 04, 2015

Diary of a Fangirl

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“Fangirls” often get a bad name, don’t they? They scream a lot. They’re “dramatic”. They’re obsessive. They like YouTubers and One Direction. They love posters and blu tac. The actual dictionary definition is “a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction.”

But all boiled down, what does this really mean? a female human who is often really madly into something (usually cultural or artistic) and isn’t afraid to show it.

I am fan girl.

If I like something, or someone, I will tell them a million times how much I love it. I will go up to them at a party and say I like it, I will Instagram a copy of their book with lots of heart emojis. I will tell all my friends to buy their thing. I will tweet them compliments. I fangirl at my friends and I fangirl at random strangers.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this piece on the Telegraph entitled “fangirling your heroes in cheap and childish” rubbed me up the wrong way. I really really like the author of the piece’s work, so it’s nothing personal. It just made me reflect on the term “fangirl” and gave me some fodder for a blog post, and that’s always a good thing!

On reflection and after reading this article, I realised I don’t care about the stereotypes associated with being a so-called fangirl. I get really obsessed with things I like. I play songs on repeat for months. I still rip out articles and stick them in a diary. I order five books by the same author all at once. I stalk people on social media who I admire. I write long emails to people to tell them how their movie had an effect on me. I get really into people, things, culture, art, writing, books, paintings, places.

A few months ago I found a book from the seventies in an old library and wrote a very “fangirl” blog post about how much I liked it. The author, who is now in her 80s found my blog and email address and sent me an email. She said that her book was printed by a really obscure press and only a very few copies were ever made. She said we must be kindred spirits. I cried, which I know is weird but I felt like this was the magic of the Internet. This is what I’ve always loved about it. That the enjoyment of someone’s work can mean so much to someone. We carried on emailing, and she usually emailed me quickly while explaining she’d had to go, because she needed to take her sick husband to hospital for check-ups and couldn’t be on the computer for too long. It would really lift my mood hearing from her, my new friend, someone on the other side of the world, whose brilliant book taught me so many new things. The “fangirling” turned into having a new penpal. It was simple a way to connect. Back to basics.

I don’t care how fangirling at people LOOKS to the outside world. I do it because I want someone to know I like it. Sometimes it’ll be a public shout-out, sometimes private, usually both. In a nutshell: I want just want that person to know they have a new fan.

It’s probably worth mentioning that I am quite picky with what I fangirl at. I don’t go around absolutely loving everything and everyone – quite the opposite. I don’t think the term should be palmed off as being just a “teenage trait” of being really “into” stuff. To me it’s just part of having the type of personality that gets really inspired by their surroundings. I don’t ever want to change that for the fear of seeming childish. I don’t want to hold back any excitement over the things that make me happy.

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The article argues that “before Twitter, regular people would usually only offer such praise if they really meant it – mainly because finding someone’s email address or writing them a letter took a lot more effort.” There’s definitely a truth in that – instead of a quick “OMG I LOVE YOUR BLOG POST” you could instead email that person and say “dear xx, your blog post was truly inspiring because etc….” But, social networking has made it easier to drop someone a little note to say: I like what you’re doing. It’s important to tell people when you like their stuff. It builds confidence. Everyone likes a little boost. Everyone appreciates a compliment. We all know that someone saying: “you look great today” automatically means you WILL have a better day. Sending a tweet is easier than an email. I don’t think it’s “laziness” I think it’s the fact that we are able to do it in between odd jobs at work or on the commute home, it’s making it less of a task to sit down and write people lots of emails full of praise. We shouldn’t feel ashamed or silly for sending a nice message, especially as the Internet has very dark corners to it. I think sending the odd tweet to tell someone you’re a fan is one of the most redeeming qualities of social networking these days.

 

Over and out,

FROM A BIG INTERNET FAN GIRL.

XOOX

 

My most recent Instagram fangirl behaviour:

THE PROOF HAS JUST ARRIVED IN MY HANDS OF ELIZABETH GILBERT’S NEW BOOK:

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  • I love this post SO much! This sums me up perfectly – I totally fan girl, I obsess over things I love, I listen to songs till I get sick of them, when I watch a movie or TV series with a new actor/actress that I like, I google the shiz out of them because I must know everything about them. A lot of people think I am crazy for this behavior but it is who I am and also there is so much good that comes of it – for example, me telling you how much I love this post, how much I love your blog, is going to make you feel good!

  • Mia Beak

    SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS. This was great!! It was so positive I loved it!!

  • I love this post, and I agree so much! I don’t know why miserable people have to try and put others down for celebrating what makes them happy.
    And I hate how sexist people get about female fans. If a male is an enthusiastic fan, no one tries to make him feel ashamed or call him vapid but these are always applied to females.

  • Unashamed, unabashed Fangirl here, with lots and lots of Fangirl friends, and whose 10 year old daughter is also a Fangirl.

    My Fangirlness started at an early age with my love of Sc-fi, then found it’s outlet in the early days of the web and usergroups finding other people like me. With the advent of fan forums in the 90s I made some of the best friends of my life posting on the Bronze Beta (and others) when Buffy started in 1997, and many of those women (and men) are still my friends, both online still and in real life.

    My girl and I (her wearing her Thor tee shirt) went to London Film and Comicon last year and are going in October, she is also going to a Halloween con with me this year. I still love Sci-fi and my girl is a big comic geek, I couldn’t be more proud.

    Cheers xxxx

  • By your definition, I only see “fangirl” as being a really kind, thoughtful person. Nothing wrong with that! I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to meeting new people. When I like them it’s almost like I can’t help myself from telling them so…hopefully not in a creepy way. They like it and are flattered. I think. Anyway, I like you.

  • KP

    Thank you for this article; it was a definite learning moment for me. I’m in touch with a couple of kinda-big-deal-on-YouTube people, and when I heard the term “fangirl”, I thought of the women who tweet and comment really creepy things at them–like, when my friends go, “Here’s a video about [neutral topic]”, their replies get hit with things like “OMG PLEASE FOLLOW ME I LOVE YOU”, or “NOTICE ME”, or going into uncomfortable detail about how sexy they are, and how jealous they are of their girlfriends, etc. etc. In my mind, “fans” covered the followers of all genders who just liked their content and gave positive feedback, while the “fangirls” were the kinds of people who try to find their home addresses to mail them underwear.

    But in reading your post, as well as the post you’re replying to, I had to revise my mental definition (and it actually includes me now!). As you presented it, I completely agree. There’s nothing wrong with being exuberant about something. It’s great to let someone know that you like what they do. If you think that a celeb/creator/whatever is awesome and want to support them, by all means promote their stuff to your friends. Getting star-struck while meeting an idol is a perfectly human thing to do. “Fangirling”, as both you and the Telegraph article described it, sounds pretty much to me like “geeking out”, except for being female while doing it.

    Young women are allowed to geek out about the things they care about.

    (I do still think a “How not to be creepy while fangirling” article would probably be a good thing–but I see now that it’s a different topic entirely from where the Telegraph article went with it.)

  • I absolutely love this post. I’ve been a fangirl since I was about 10 (I’m 23 now) and I love feeling connected to something based on the pure love, joy and connection it fills me with. I first used fangirling to escape from my life and all the unhappiness I felt but now I do it because I’m passionate and love connecting with others all around the word all because we love the same band or tv show. It really is an amazing thing and I love that now we’re able to share our opinions, thoughts and gratitude with the people who created something that in some cases, changed our lives. It’s incredible that the author found your post and you have kept in contact.

    Erin | http://www.beingerin.com

  • I really enjoyed reading this post and I feel I ought to tell you this via email (hehe). It was only yesterday that I read this article on one Deeee and how they’re splitting up but the writer will miss the fans more. To quote “The girls that flood stadiums and snap selfies and break records are artists in every sense, working with a temptingly blank canvas. They find beauty in the everyday, create meaningful connections across miles, make myths out of mortals.” and it really made me feel like I should be proud of being a fan rather than scared of being dismissed as crazy and weird because that is how some of these fans are perceived…as you’ve pointed out. I did used to write bloggers emails all the time but I don’t think many read them so i stopped. Social media is a great place to let someone know you love them/their work etc but sometimes i am more fearful of being judged and that stops me from being so expressive

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