A fangirl is a female member of the fandom community (counterpart to the masculine “fanboy”). Fangirls may be more devoted to emotional and romantic aspects of their fandom, especially (relation-)shipping. However, it is commonly used in a derogatory sense to denote a girl’s obsession with something, most commonly a male teen idol or an aspect of Japanese pop culture. Fangirl behavior can vary in intensity. On the one end of the scale are those that, while harboring a crush on a particular actor or character, are perfectly capable of understanding that the fulfillment of the crush is never going to happen. On the other end are the girls who are said to be obsessive in their claims on a fictional character, even fighting with other fangirls over who ‘owns’ the character in question. Fangirl behavior can fall anywhere in this spectrum, but the closer someone is believed to be towards the obsessive end, the more derogatory the use of the term fangirl is perceived to be.
I AM A FANGIRL.
I couldn’t pinpoint how and when it happened, but I have a guesstimate: I was a college freshman, thrown into the crazy world of Manila, alone. Aside from coping with the harsh city coupled with my being geographically challenged (number of times I got lost in my first week = 10; number of times spent walking instead of taking public transportation that may just take me somewhere else = 7), I had to deal with the culture shock. It was a different place with people coming from different subcultures. I was just one in a sea of 3,000 students, when the high school where I came from had a population of less than 400 students. And I didn’t know anybody.
I have to turn to something to keep me sane.
And there was being a fangirl—aside from the obvious choice of making friends.
July was the kickoff of the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP), where my alma mater is a part of. My classes would end early, so when I get home, basketball games were shown on TV, and I’d root for my alma mater (and cheer for other teams too). Slowly but surely, I was learning the game—I was getting hooked with basketball, and then I started having crushes on the players, both because of their game and because of their looks. I had three crushes back then: Jino Ferrer of the UP Fighting Maroons, Joseph Yeo of the De La Salle Green Archers, and Chris Tiu of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
And that was it. Once you go fangirl, you can’t go back.
After a while, my fangirl tendencies shifted—when the UAAP is on a break, I would watch Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). And when both UAAP and PBA are off-season, there’s baseball (which is an even tougher sport to learn, I tell you). I was occupied with my favorite players, the objects of my fangirling. I like reading news articles about them and watching videos of their games.
After a while, they started getting in the stuff that I write.
Chris Tiu spawned one short story, while Joseph Yeo had about two “novels” (click here and here) and some shorts (one of which is an all-time favorite story of mine). Mark Caguioa has one, plus he’s the reason why this blog is named Spark’s Fire.
Right now, I am past my basketball fangirling stage, and I am into musicians and artists.
While I am part of this subculture (if you may) I am really interested in knowing what goes into the heads of fangirls. Interested enough that I want to do an actual research study on them. But for now, I have some “theories:”
1) She could only “fangirl” over one subject of fangirling at a time. = I tend to focus on one person or group at a time. I think it’s because you need to focus all your ‘energies’ on that person or group (hereby called SUBJECT OF FANGIRLING, a.k.a. SF). You watch videos, read up about them, check Tumblr posts about them, tweet them, etc. That already requires so much time, so if you have multiple SFs, I don’t think you’ll get any sleeping done.
In my case, just solely for this year, I fangirled over the Philippine Volcanoes and then David Cook for the first and second quarter. September was Maroon 5, and then—yes—1D. [I honestly don’t know what happened there. I didn’t like them before.] I couldn’t think of a time when my SFs had overlapped.
2) She needs someone she could fangirl with. = I think one of the essential needs of a fangirl is to have someone she can talk to about this. She needs someone she can squeal with, someone she can rant to whenever something happened to her SF. Someone whom she can release the information, the gushes, the news she finds to. Someone—at least in my case—with whom she can watch the concerts and/or games with, who will stand in line with her or for her. Otherwise, a fangirl will explode.
Case in point: my last (and current) SF is the British(-Irish) boyband One Direction. At first I hid it. I was vocal before when I said that maybe they’re just another boyband, and I’m just a little bit old to get into boybands. My boybands were *NSYNC, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, A1, and Blue, and they were—most of them at least—long gone. And then one day, I got bored, finding some new songs to listen to post-Maroon 5 hangover, and I got the idea to listen to them because an officemate’s friend likes them. I GOT CURIOUS. I downloaded their songs (Yes, songs first. I barely even know what they looked like prior to that or what their names are.), and then I just found myself looping it over and over. I think it was because their most of their songs are so feel good that it de-stresses me. So there I was, a newly-minted Directioner. Quite late to the party, but still… a Directioner.
And I don’t know anyone who is. So I kept it. Cryptic tweets here and there. I managed to get another officemate hooked (YAY) but she likes their music and that’s it. I just went a whole lot further and I became a fangirl. And it was TOUGH, to keep all those emotions bottled up inside. How I try to hide my phone whenever someone’s coming to my desk because they could see that I’m listening to 1D. How I couldn’t talk about them and how they’re actually pretty amazing live (I think this is the one that got me hooked. I like artists who sound good on record and off the record.)
And then after a while, it got too much, and then I just went: SCREW IT. I have always been a fangirl, so why should I be ashamed this time when I’m fangirling over boys that are four to five years younger than I am? [Okay, when you put it that way it sounds bad. HAHA.] I am appreciating music (as bubblegum pop as some of it are), and I like them. It’s an added bonus that they come in a very handsome package, that they seem like nice people, and that they dance awkwardly.
So thank you to my cousin Nikki, my friend Faye, and my colleagues Nenz and Cho for listening to me ramble on about my current SF. I know it’s tiring, and I know sometimes you don’t want to hear it, but thanks for listening. Thank you for Pearl (yes, I’m namedropping you), though, for indulging this. HAHA :)
3) She has to embrace her being a fangirl. = See Item #2. You can’t really be a true fangirl if you haven’t even admitted to yourself that you are one. If we need to qualify this: yes, you’re a fangirl if you follow them on Twitter, or liked their Facebook pages, or read up on articles about them. If you also actively search online for stuff about them, then consider yourself a fangirl. Downloading music videos or watching live performances on YouTube? Yup, FANGIRL. There could be various ways to qualifying fangirls, but you should embrace it if you are one. While I do admit I’m not the hardcore fangirl—I don’t go to as many basketball & rugby games as much as I want to, nor do I watch every single concert that my SF artist is having—I’m still a fangirl. I still show support and love towards my SF, and I’m ready and willing to fight a verbal battle should someone strike them down.
So there. I am a fangirl. And if you base it on the definition provided by Wikipedia that I quoted above, I think you should qualify me as the harmless kind of fangirl, the one who can still determine reality from fiction—save for the fact that my SFs are good sources of stories too.
If you’re a closet fangirl… come out. There’s no harm in being one (unless you’re the one who lives up to the derogatory meaning of the word). Plus, you get to meet other awesome fangirls too! (Met some during my Philippine Volcanoes fangirling phase.)