When you hear the word ‘fangirl,’ you think of teens screaming rabidly at Justin Bieber concerts or girls crying furiously because they cannot buy a ticket to a One Direction concert. When you think of fangirls, you think of prepubescent teens who plaster band posters on their walls and collect memorabilias of the boys and groups they like.
Fangirls come from different fandoms (Google it, it’s a word) in every pop culture and sub-culture possible. Fangirls exist in pretty much every corner of the world, most particularly in the Internet. We live, breathe, and thrive on the world wide web, where we can connect and relish on having found other people who love what we love. Fangirls come in all shapes and sizes, and more importantly, fangirls come from all ages.
You can be 13 and saving every bit of your allowance just to buy the latest album of your favorite band. Or you can be 24, a professional, yet you still consider concert tickets the most precious thing in the world… next to your laptop. You can even be in your mid-30s and you’re still planning to go to the next fanmeeting of your favorite actor.
I cannot think of a period in my life that I didn’t consider myself as a fangirl. It all started with The Moffatts, who are the root cause of my penchant for pretty boys. Then I moved on to Harry Potter and to reading fanfics. Oh god, the fanfics. When Meteor Garden landed in the Philippine shores, I jumped on the bandwagon and didn’t really get off like everyone else. It launched my obsession with anything Asian (and chinito!). Then ten years ago, I discovered KPOP. Yes, before Filipino teens went crazy of Super Junior and danced to Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” or PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” I already had half a decade of KPOP fangirling under my belt.
After all the years of fangirling, I realized that the word “fangirl” has a pretty bad connotation. I cannot count the number of times people scoff when they learn that I am one, even more so when they learn that I’m a KPOP fangirl. The horror. Good thing I’m immune from all the teasing and dissing from other people. Don’t get me wrong. There are those who are accepting and those who do not care. Then there are the trolls.
I don’t mind when people refer to me as a fangirl. Because I am, and what’s the point of denying it? However, it’s not the first thing I let people know about me, but it’s definitely not the last. I don’t try to hide it, but I don’t introduce myself to others as a fangirl. Not that I’m ashamed of it, but I want to avoid all the questions. Besides I cannot hide the fact that I’m a fangirl, because I’m always too busy updating my fangirl blog or tweeting rapidly about it.
Explaining why I am one, or why I like what I like, or why I devote so much time on them can be tiring. I’m just glad that people have stopped asking, because it’s not always fun to answer especially when you’re given blank stares or an eye roll. There are days when I’d rather not defend why I listen to KPOP or watch every Korean drama available on torrent. Because who cares? And I fangirl not to stress over what other people will think of me or my oppars. I fangirl because it’s fun! It’s supposed to be fun, and it’s not like fangirling is the only thing I do even when it seems like it.
I may spend Saturday nights marathoning a 16-episode drama but I can still happily attend dinner parties. I may think chasing celebrities in the airport is a must in every fangirl’s bucket list, but I can easily drop my oppa if one of my girl friends are in trouble. I may spend way too much on my fandoms, but believe me, I spend more on other things. Our fandoms may occupy a lot of our free time, but it’s not the only thing we care about. Crazy, yes. But not all of us are batshit crazy. I swear.
If people will actually take time to understand before they pass judgment over someone who considers fangirling as a hobby, they’ll realize that fandoms nurture some of the most talented and passionate minds you’ll meet online. The funniest, too, because they create all these cracktastic fanfiction and genius memes.
I thank fanfiction for fueling my love for writing stories and for widening the reach of my imagination. It’s thanks to Fanfiction.net that I believed that Hermione and Draco could actually be good together and for letting me have more Hermione and Ron moments, much more than the books offered. I also learned that boy and boy fanfiction is a thing, a pretty big one.
I thank my Asian dramas for introducing me to diverse cultures and traditions that seem so foreign yet familiar. Thanks to my dramas, I know how to properly eat samgyupsal and to say “Itadakimasu!” before every meal.
I thank KPOP for introducing me to a new language other than English and Filipino, even though I can barely carry a conversation in Hanguk alone.
I thank my years of fangirling for immersing me in wonderful internet communities, and letting me know that it’s not just full of trolls and grammar nazis and racists and stereotypists. Even when the Philippines and China are always in dispute, it doesn’t mean I can’t carry on a decent and engaging conversation with Chinese fans or like Chinese actors and artists.
I’m thankful that I became a fangirl because how else would I meet all these wonderful people from all parts of the world? I may have gotten my heart broken countless of times and I may have been looked down on just because I’m a fangirl. But it’s all worth it.
There are way more highs than lows when you decide to come out of hiding and admit to yourself that you’re a fangirl and there’s no shame in being one.