Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Woes and Joys of a Fangirl

1:00 AM

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I say it with pride: I am a fangirl.

The way any one person can take that statement can vary. For some, the natural instinct would be to back away slowly before I attempt to make you like the same things I like, with the official merchandise and memorabilia obviously hidden in my bag. Others would immediately ask what I’m a fan of, and we would explode into spasms of delight when we find out we’ve got the same ships and headcanons. And while these images are amusing, they may not actually be entirely true.

Let’s break it down: a fan is a person who appreciates and admires something; it can be anything from a television show, an anime, a book, a comic, a sport, or a band – and the list goes on forevermore. There are infinitely many things in this world (there are even fans of things beyond it), and there isn’t a limit or a rule that tells you which ones you should like, or even how much you should like them! You could, for example, be an otaku or fujoshi (level 100 of the male or female anime devotee, respectively) but still be a casual fan of French art-house flicks and Scandinavian death metal. That’s completely okay. In fact, that’s hella awesome. 

And now, when you like something, it’s very improbable (but not entirely impossible) that you’ll be the only person that does – and that’s where fandom comes in. This is short for fan domain: it’s literally a community of people who like something. Imagine that: tons of people, possibly even from all around the world, hosting discussions, going on rants, dressing up as characters (cosplaying), and creating works like fanfiction, fanart, videos, merchandise, even actual games; and every single one of these people likes something enough to express it. 

When you post things about what you like online, it gets a lot easier to find someone else who likes it too – you get talking, you agree and disagree, and maybe you even become friends. One of my closest friends is someone that I met online after she commented on my horrendous fanfiction, and it turned out that she was an artist and a street dancer! That said, there are so many different kinds of people in fandom, all of them with different perspectives, passions, and personalities. 

It’s a lot like a country, in that sense. These people may not necessarily have a government, but they are bound by certain laws. This is called canon, and is basically the entirety of established truths from a fandom’s official body of works (canon can also be used as an adjective that refers to something being in this set of truths). A headcanon would refer to an idea that a particular fan believes is true, but is not confirmed by canon. 

[To make that clear, it is canon that Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter books was always rather cruel to Hermione Granger. A lot of people’s headcanons would say that he did this because he had romantic feelings for her that he could not express due to his strict upbringing. This headcanon was later (sort of) confirmed by J.K. Rowling, the author herself, making it canon – Dramione fans everywhere rejoiced.] 

And speaking of Dramione – a lot of fandoms even have their own lingo, and the most common of them will have something to do with a ship (short for relationship), which unfortunately does not have anything to do with boats or methods of postal delivery. It’s used as both a noun and a verb – the noun refers to a pair of characters in a romantic or sexual relationship, and the verb would refer to supporting this pairing. Level 100 of a ship would be an OTP, which stands for one true pairing: this is the ship you ship above and beyond all other ships. (This is also a very misleading term, considering that many people actually have several OTPs). 

The fandom life is a difficult one with all of this jargon – and sometimes, it gets worse when the fandom you’re in is such a toxic environment. It gets bad when arguments break out when people disagree on things and bash pairings (which can sometimes escalate to a ship war, which sounds impressive, but is actually just a bunch of people online arguing over which pairing is better). Sometimes it gets difficult to continue liking something when everybody else who likes it is being stupid, and it can make you leave the community. 

Leaving a fandom doesn’t mean you’ve stopped liking something. It can happen for all kinds of reasons, be it hate or just ennui. There comes a time when you start looking at new things and start liking them too, and the newness of it all makes that fandom fresh and all the more welcoming – and you explore. 

You’ll never run out of things to like and consequently, fandoms to join. You stay for a while (though your mileage may vary), and then you go. Sometimes, you come back, and sometimes you don’t even look back. 

And it’s entirely up to you. That’s what the fandom experience is really about: being true to what you like, and learning new things and new emotions along the way. 

I’ve written fanfiction, and I’ve made a lot of friends online because of it. I listen to 80’s rock and some Filipino rap, but I’ll still be able to screech out nearly all the songs in Phantom of the Opera from memory. I’ve literally cried over my OTPs in the early hours of the morning, and spent too much money on merchandise. I’m on Tumblr almost every night, scrolling through posts of the personifications of nations hosting world meetings, of a Time Lord travelling time and space in a blue box that’s bigger on the inside, and of a swim club of hot guys who are half naked a majority of the time. 

These habits may not always be healthy, and may sound insane to some, but all of this –being a fan of many things – has also taught me to be a fan of myself, and to understand that I, and everyone else in the world, have many facets. These sides may not always be visible to us until a certain time or at a certain place, but they are there nonetheless, and they reflect the worlds that we have explored and taken into our hearts, the experiences we’ve gained from them and from our own lives. 

And for all of that, I am endlessly grateful.

Article by PaCho
Artwork by Bea
PaCho is the nickname of a full-time fangirl who wants an infinite amount of money with which to travel the world and buy merchandise. This girl is currently amassing the skills to achieve these goals, and collecting stories and perspectives along the way (to consequently be the best that no one ever was) at a university. She will smile in satisfaction at the fall of the patriarchy and Western domination of international affairs. She is only half-joking about this (which means that she's completely serious).


  1. PaCho, hello!!! So great to finally see the site up; I'm browsing along bit by bit but I just knew I had to leave a comment on your article, haha. Let's see if I make any sense.

    I've always been a fangirl one way or another, ever since I got hooked on Winnie-the-Pooh when I was around two, but I only really got into fandom when I was in Grade 4 - so I was around 9y/o? I had just got out of a really toxic friendship, and somewhere along the way I got really into Cardcaptor Sakura. It was a slow process - my net connection was (still is) slow as turtles climbing Mount Everest, and the fics I did back then were subpar at best - but I read fic and watched vids and made friends and it made me feel better about myself. I begun feeling more confident about myself. I've always been outspoken, in some way or another - but that little dip into fandom matters made me get out of my shell, I guess. Made me stop being a crybaby and start actually living my life.

    The first time I would actually play such an active part in a fandom I consider myself a part of would've been in Hetalia PH - I was in high school back then, and that's where I met you and everyone else. Some of the best years of my life. In the meanwhile real life continued being rather...moody towards me, for lack of a better term; I did well academically but it seems that so far as IRL relationships are concerned I really am a magnet for toxic friendships. But I couldn't find myself caring - because I had fics and art and vids and stuff that, while not the best of quality, were mine (take that, subpar NCAE 'creativity' grade), and had people who actually liked talking to me of their own volition (take that, everyone who'd ever said nobody'd ever want to be friends with me), and it was tremendously helpful.

    I can't say I've fallen so low as to now be able to say that fandom saved my life, but it's gone pretty close.

    ...anyway. Now I'm an (almost graduating!) college student, and I spend my rare moments of free time writing about swim boys too attractive that I can't believe they're supposed to be younger than me (but seriously - the difference between me and Rei is three whole years????), and real life does get a bit crappy and tedious sometimes as it usually does, but I know I'm still always gonna have fandom, and the lovely people I met through it, and believe it or not, that thought makes all the difference.

    (Oh wow, I am such a sap. No wonder I write romance fic.)

    1. Hi Trish! Thank you for sharing your fandom story <3

      I think we're all in our own fandoms, one way or another, throughout our whole lives. So really, we're all fangirls and fanboys in our own way -- it's close to impossible to really just hate everything, isn't it? Fandom is love, and love is good for the soul (and the body too, according to science!). I'm happy to hear that it's done a lot of good for you :)

      I totally forgot that the people from Free! are still supposed to be in high school!! That's completely insane. No one has the right to be that fine, and then there are like seven of them with beautiful abs and biceps?!

  2. I love this post and this blog :) xx SO MUCH LOVE <3


  3. "A lot of people’s headcanons would say that he did this because he had romantic feelings for her that he could not express due to his strict upbringing. This headcanon was later (sort of) confirmed by J.K. Rowling, the author herself, making it canon – Dramione fans everywhere rejoiced."