Welcome to your very first lesson here at Fandom University. If you don’t know what Fandom University is, read all about it here.
Even if you’re not here because of Fandom University, WELCOME. Today we’re taking apart the term “fangirl” and figuring out exactly what is a fangirl.Contrary to popular belief, being a fangirl is nothing to be ashamed of. Click To Tweet
So what is a fangirl exactly? According to Urban Dictionary:
A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and LiveJournal. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obsessions.
Well… now then. No wonder so many people fear to embrace their inner fangirl. Because who wants to be called rabid? I certainly don’t. But as I was researching for this blog post and trying to find out exactly what is a fangirl, I came upon something intriguing.
The book Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell tells the story of a young introverted fangirl who uses her love and ‘obsession’ for Simon Snow to cope with the death of her mom and the scary adjustment of living away from home. Like many of us, Cath struggles with embracing her love for her fandom. Yet in the end, it’s what she winds up turning to when she finds herself struggling.
I haven’t yet read the book but the summary sure caught my eye. Not only is it completely different from Urban Dictionary hyperbole of a definition, but this story humanizes shows just what is a fangirl, grounding the term ‘fangirl’ into something much more meaningful and genuine.
So for me, what is a fangirl?A fangirl is someone (male or female, come on now let's not be sexist) who has an intense love and passion for a specific celebrity or form of entertainment and is not afraid to show it. Click To Tweet
But how is a fangirl different than your basic fan?
The label ‘fangirl’ isn’t just something you tack onto your identity haphazardly. You’ll be doing a disservice to your fellow fangirls if you do. So how can you be sure that you are a fangirl and not just a simple fan?Now don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being just a fan. Sometimes that’s all you have time to be since being a fangirl takes a certain level of dedication. You basically sleep, eat, and breathe your fandom of choice.
Do you do any of the following?
- follow them on all of their social media
- save up money every year specifically just to meet them or see them perform
- spend hours online looking at fandom related merchandise that you know you can’t afford
- squeal or smile like a fool whenever something reminds you of the fandom
- talk about said celebrity or fandom even during its ‘off season’
If you said yes to any of the statements above, you, my friend, are a fangirl. A simple fan only engages with the fandom when it’s ‘trending’ and may lose contact every now and then. If you’re struggling to see the difference, think of it this way.
So why the stigma?
It’s no secret that you hear about crazy fans who take loving someone or something to the extreme and it’s been silently accepted that if you’re a celebrity, no matter how big or small, you’ve had an… interesting encounter with a fan. And sadly, “what was your craziest fan encounter” has become a popular interview or fan question at conventions and panels.
(see 8:30 for ‘crazy fan story’)
So why is there this bad stigma surrounding the ‘fangirl’ label and why do some fans take it to the extreme?
I’ll be honest. I don’t really know the answer to this question. People have different comfort levels and love languages. Everyone expresses love differently and when you’re a fangirl, you love hard. Combine that with a social ineptitude and you’ve got yourself a ‘crazy fangirl’.
In all fairness, social cues can be difficult to read. If you’ve never been taught that something was ‘socially unacceptable,” how can you know you crossed a line in showing your love? You can’t.
Sure. Maybe. But the reality is, not everyone has common sense. I’m not hating on anyone and I don’t mean to be rude. But some people just lack common sense and struggle to understand what’s considered crossing the line. We’ll talk more about “crossing the line” in a different post. For now, this social ineptitude by some fans may be one reason why the label fangirl carries such a negative connotation.
How do I know if I’m a fangirl or not?
Despite the stigma around the label, fangirls are a lot more prevalent than you may think. In all seriousness, I’m willing to bet that everyone is a fangirl in some way or another. Don’t believe me? Join my Shannon K family to take this minute quiz to see if you’re a fangirl. We’ll be discussing how you can tell whether you’re a fangirl or not and you may be surprised by what you find out.
To summarize what we learned in today’s lesson:
- what is a fangirl (the stereotyped definition of the term vs what is really represents)
- the difference between being a fan and being a fangirl
- why the label carries such a negative connotation
What are your thoughts on the connotations of the label? Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.