Fangirl and Fangirling: More than Just Screaming Girls
I have been constantly talking with one of my friends through instant messaging app for almost two months now. The talk started with us sharing about our type of man and it magically shifted into fangirling. We are actually talking about two different things but we are on the same page: fangirling. My friend, she is talking about her current favourite Korean actor and I’m talking about my current favourite football player from my favourite football club. Two completely different things but so many things in common at the same time.
Now before I go further, what is inside your mind when you hear the word fangirl or fangirling? Bunch of girls? Bunch of screaming girls? Or–going a little bit extreme here–bunch of crazy screaming girls?. People probably have their own perception about fangirl. Some say we are crazy, some say we are dedicated, some say we don’t have a life, some say we are passionate, some say we are just screaming about a certain famous people that don’t even know we exist. Well, I tell you, let people talk. But from what I have experienced–with my friend and I, we see this from other people as well–being a fangirl doing fangirling, is more than just screaming girls. There is more to it that only you can experience when you are the fangirl. Some people probably think this is rubbish, but it is not.
Going back to the beginning, I said that my friend and I are talking about two completely different things: Korean actor and footballer, but we share something in common at the same time, which is happiness. We share the same amount of happiness when we are talking about our favourites; our personal favourite or the things that we both love. There is this rush of feelings, rush of happiness that I feel when I do fangirling. It’s a wonderful feeling, much like when you were little and your mom finally bought you that lollipop or toy you have always wanted. This may sounds a bit bias, considering each person in this world has their own version of happiness; how they get their happiness, in what form, in what occasion. So allow me to add another one to show that fangirling has a lot more to look at.
Being a fangirl means you are belong to a group called fandom directly–for instance when you run a fan account or you are a member of certain fan group–or indirectly, you are not a member of fan group but you still show your support as a fan. To kick start, what is fandom? According to dictionary.cambridge.com, fandom is “a group of fans of someone or something, especially very enthusiastic ones”. Now you know what fandom is, but do you know that belong to a fandom can affect you and yourself?. Moving to another point in this writing, in an article posted on teenvogue.com, a psychotherapist and professor of psychology at Columbia University, Dr. Laurel Steinberg said “Belonging to a fandom group helps adolescents connect to other like-minded youths on social media throughout the year, as well as at concert events. Feeling like you are a part of a group can help one define his/her identity and give a sense of purpose to what might be an otherwise routine lifestyle.”
Fangirling–and belong to a fandom–also, somehow, affect your mental health. The connection between being in a fandom and mental health come in the next statement given by Dr. Laurel Steinberg. Recite from teenvogue.com, she added “Connecting with people over shared passions and interests is good for mental and emotional health because it helps to create fraternity-like or family-like sense of security.” She also said, get excited about something with others and giving them something to talk to, made them know they will always be well received. Sometimes I see a lot of people go online and talking about how being in a fandom and being a fangirl saved them. Sometimes they are escaping from something and run to their fandom, because of that family-like sense of security that they feel. People also gained friends through fandom. They meet completely stranger online, only by sharing the same interest, the same support, and the same love to their idol, they can be friends with other people from around the world, and it’s not a rare sight. Though it doesn’t happen to me, but I have seen that quite a lot.
The next point, I want to go back to what Dr. Laurel Steinberg said about being in a fandom. Dr. Laurel said feeling like you are a part of a group can help you form an identity of yours. Identity here can be the name of the fandom that you belong to, such as 5SOSFam, Swifties, Mixers, Directioners, and so on. You are a part of the fandom, therefore you can identify yourself as one of them to someone else. Some even found themselves in a multi-fandom, a circumstance when you are a part of two fandoms–for instance, you are a 5SOSFam and a Directioners as well–and there is nothing wrong with that.
A psychology media website, psychreg.org published an article titled “Here’s Your Guide to Healthy Fangirling”. In that article there are some points about the perks of being a fangirl, including its good impact on mental health, help you build an identity, empowering self-determination, and you can have a sense of belonging to a collective community, as well as gaining connection through a fandom.
However, you need to keep it healthy when it comes to fangirling. Yes, just like any other thing in this world, fangirling has a side effect. In an extreme case, fangirling can turn into obsession, a condition that actually not so good for both the fans and the artist. Fangirling is a time consuming activity. You can spend hours and hours staring at your phone or your computer. Need to say, don’t let this take over your whole life completely. A fair and healthy amount of fangirling and living your mundane life could make a balance between them and you can still be the best of both worlds (no pun intended).
As I finish this writing, I look back to what I have just went through. Just like a lot of fangirls, my friend and I sometimes use fangirling as an escape and we feel like we are the happiest when we talk about our favourites, and it’s not that bad. People may think fangirls are just a group of young women–probably dominated by teenagers–screaming to tears when they see their favourites, but turns out there are a lot more to that if you are willing to take a closer look. More than just enthusiasm, fangirling can show you how much a person meant for someone, how much support and love the fans give to their favourites, and how much fangirling and being a fangirl can help someone in many aspects in their life. Who would have thought of that? As cheesy as it sounds, as impossible as it may seems, but a fangirling is more than just a screaming coming from a bedroom when the fangirl sees their favourites photographed sitting in the corner of a coffee shop.