I’m a fangirl and I always have been. It started with Hannah Montana, then it was Selena Gomez and then One Direction. So being a fangirl, I’m well aware of all the criticism that comes along with it. When I say the word fangirl, the typical image that comes to mind is a teenage girl screaming and crying at a concert. This is, however, not always the case. There are fangirls for everything, music, movies, TV shows, books, sports, comics, etc. Girls are constantly ridiculed for being fans of these things, and why? Why are we so quick to dismiss and judge people who are part of a fandom? For some reason, things that young people like are quick to be dismissed, undermined and made fun of.
When Justin Bieber released his album My World 2.0, I vividly remember crying to my mom because I was too afraid to admit that I liked the album. But honestly, who wouldn’t like that album? It has some great songs, like “Baby,” “Eenie Meenie,” “U Smile,” do I need to go on? It was a great album and yet I was scared to admit that I liked it because I knew that I’d get judged for it. I was eight. Who judges an eight-year-old for the music that they like?
It was the same thing with One Direction. When they first started to get popular, people would make fun of others for liking their music. So, for a while, I hid that I was a fan of them from my friends at school. Now, I’m not really sure what happened that changed that for me, but the year after I fully embraced it and I was often known for being a Directioner. I mean, I was even voted “World’s Biggest One Direction Fan” in our yearbook.
Now one of the things that really bothers me is the sexism behind shaming fangirls. When guys scream and cheer on their favourite sports teams, they’re considered passionate fans. However, when a girl does the same for their favourite singer or band, they’re called crazy, obsessed or hysterical. If a man spends thousands of dollars to go to the Superbowl, they’re viewed as insanely lucky and has a love for the game. But if a girl decides to travel to go to a concert, they’re once again considered to be crazy and obsessive. I never once thought that a man’s interest in a sports team was hysterical and something to shame them for, but my interest in One Direction is seen as embarrassing.
Another aspect of sexism is if a girl likes something that is stereotypically something only guys like, they have to go through a sort of test to see if they’re really a fan. If a girl says that she likes a certain sports team, she’s immediately asked to name three players from that team. It’s the same with bands, if it’s not a stereotypical band for women to like they’re quickly asked to name three songs that aren’t singles. Let’s also talk about how when girls like stereotypically male things, like Marvel movies, it’s assumed that we only like it because we find the men attractive. Why is it that anytime a girl says she likes something, she’s either seen as crazy or interrogated to see if she actually likes it?
When did we start judging people based on their interests and why have we allowed it to go on for so long? Why are men considered to be passionate fans while women are called insane? (Which is quite ironic if you ask me.) I mean, I can’t be the only one who remembers the riot in Toronto after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship. Fans literally took to the streets smashing the windshields of police cars, vandalizing busses and storefronts and setting off fireworks from moving cars. This was after they won! Imagine if they’d lost. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life and I’ve never seen girls act like that after it’s finished. Yet, we’re called the crazy ones!
Prior to The Beatles’ stereotypical audience being middle-aged men, it was young women who helped their career take off. Fans helped boost the sales and helped them be successful outside of England. It’s the same with other bands like One Direction and BTS, two of the biggest boybands in the world. Fangirls are extremely underestimated and are more powerful than people realize. K-pop fans literally pranked the former President of the United States, Donald Trump. These fans inflated the expected attendance for a Trump rally in Tulsa in 2020, which inevitably failed to deliver. There was also the Free Britney movement that started and was pushed by fangirls. Fangirls have proved time and time again that they’re a powerful group and yet they continue to be mocked.
Now, I could probably rant about this for quite some time. The point that I’m trying to make is that it’s time we stop shaming fangirls. So what if we’re passionate about a celebrity, TV show, movie, book, sport, comic, etc.? Our opinions are just as valid as a man’s. I’m tired of constantly being put down and judged because I’m a fangirl. I always have been, and I honestly don’t see it ending anytime soon. I hope that we can stop shaming these girls for having an interest in things and just let them embrace it!