Introduction – The Art of Fangirling

Oxford Dictionary

fan·girl        /ˈfanɡərl/           


  1. a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, movies, music, or science fiction.

“your average fangirl, despite the implication of the name, is a grown-up”


  1. (of a female fan) behave in an obsessive or overexcited way.

“I’m still fangirling over this casting”

Urban Dictionary

    1. A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and LiveJournal. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obsessions.

      Hugh Jackman:
      Fangirl: SQUEEEEEE! *immediately attaches to Jackman’s leg*
      Jackman: Security! 
    2. Girls who are fanatical about a particular person, group of people, or idea.”The rock star was flooded with fangirls.”

So, what is a fangirl?

A fangirl can be your typical teenager who buys teenybopper magazines for posters of BTS. A fangirl can be your college student who still loves that band that won her heart when she was a little girl. A fangirl can be an adult with a job and life who loves an artist, movie franchise, group, or sports star with all of her heart.

Kathleen Smith, who wrote “The Fangirl Life” said, “A fangirl is simply a lady fan.”

You can’t get much simpler than that.

Being a fangirl has come with a bad connotation over the years. For instance, that Urban Dictionary description above. Rabid breed. Obsessed. Grope. Tackle.

That’s not what a fangirl really is.

Being a fangirl to me, means to not only be able to vibe or enjoy the music your favorite artist releases, but to also feel connected to other fans through music and social media! I’ve been a fangirl for about 10 years, and I have been able to connect and meet with so many people! Being a fangirl is being supportive and helping others and lastly, it doesn’t mean who has the most money to go to all the shows it’s the ones that support the artists through streaming!

Alexis, 20, North Carolina, US

Hannah Ewens wrote in “Fangirls,” “They’re the ones at the helm of fan practices that the public have a vague awareness of: Tweeting their favorite artist incessantly, writing fan fiction, religiously updating devoted social media profiles, buying ‘meet-and-greet’ tickets and following the band around to various shows.”

That’s who fangirls are. And there should be no shame in being a fangirl. 

Where did the term come from?

Scouring the internet, the term fangirl could have came from two separate places.

Some believe the word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic,” which is derived from the Latin word fanaticus, meaning “insanely but divinely inspired. It pertained to a temple or special place, which, if you think of it, kind of makes sense. As a fan, our fandom is our special place.

It is also said that the word “fan” comes from the word “fancy.” For example, “Do you fancy that guy?” It means that you really like something and even dates back to 1545. Saying that “fan” came from “fancy” does sound a little less dramatic. They believe the modern term came around the 19th century according to

“I fancy Nick Carter” back then would now be, “I am totally a Nick Carter fangirl.”

Being a fan girl means not just being an obvious fan of the boys and supporting their endeavors. To me it also means being part of a community of fans who support and encourage each other like family. I can’t think of being a fangirl and not think of experiences related to the boys that I have been able to share with dear friends! It makes being a fangirl that much more special. 

Miranda, 43, Alabama, US

Types of Fangirls

When it comes to boy bands, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men, Take That, and every other boy band from the 90s and early 2000s fans are usually in their 20s or older. The vast majority are what one would call an adult fangirl, or professional fangirl. Even the Jonas Brothers fans are now adults who, for the most part, pay their own bills, or are in college.

Wherever you look, you will always see various types of fangirls. Some websites list them out, from calling one “The Banshee” to “The Crier.” I could possibly come up with my own list of different type of fangirls, but I won’t get into that right now. The girls over at Fangirls Night Out did a pretty good job, especially when it relates back to musicians.

You may find yourself relating to more than one type of fangirl and that’s okay. I’m several of them all put together in a crazy, spirally ribbon bow.

We will be discussing this all more in-depth during a future “class.” 

Being a fangirl is an escape from reality and it is also being the truest version of myself all at the same time. It’s a feeling of weightlessness in a world determined to sink me. It’s dancing in confetti, staying up all night, traveling the world, smiling until my cheeks hurt and living without regret because I absolutely bought that concert ticket. Being a fangirl means making memories I’ll never forget with friends who have become my family.

Jenni, 39, North Carolina

What is the Art of Fangirling?

The art of fangirling is quite simple – have fun. If you’re a fangirl and you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Something about your fangirling ways is not working because that’s what being a fangirl really is. It’s having fun, loving whatever it is that you’re a fangirl of. It’s about being with your fellow fangirl friends. It’s about

People won’t always take us seriously and that’s okay. They think all fangirls are 15-year-old girls, but that’s not how it is at all. Even Harry Styles thinks so.

Harry spoke to Rolling Stone in 2019 and gave his opinion on fangirls:

“They’re the most honest — especially if you’re talking about teenage girls, but older as well,” he said. “They have that bullshit detector. You want honest people as your audience. We’re so past that dumb outdated narrative of ‘Oh, these people are girls, so they don’t know what they’re talking about.’ They’re the ones who know what they’re talking about. They’re the people who listen obsessively. They fucking own this shit. They’re running it.”

That’s pretty much true. Look at people such as Yvette Nicole Brown. She is an actress, writer, comedian, and TV host, but she is also a major fangirl. If you’ve been a fan of “The Walking Dead,” you’ve probably seen her on the show that follows it that is called “The Talking Dead.” The girl keeps a notebook and takes notes while watching the show. Tell me that isn’t fangirl material. 

Then you have fangirls like the girls at Fangirls Night Out. They are all involved in marketing and they have incorporated pop culture in their branding for personal endeavors and joint projects.

Many fangirls have begun their careers by writing fan fiction and have moved into normal fiction, even getting published and movies made from their books. (“After” was originally a Harry Styles fan fiction, and the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series was originally a “Twilight” fan fiction.) We will get more into fan fiction later in another class.

Fangirl Reads & Watches

There are two books that I feel like all Fangirls should read. I like to refer to them as my “fangirl Bibles.” I will relate back to both books throughout this whole process.

  1. “The Fangirl Life” by Kathleen Smith. The book was released in 2016 and its tagline is “A guide to all the feels and learning how to deal.” Kathleen is a therapist – her twitter account is @FangirlTherapy – and discusses all things fangirls while putting a spin on it that could help someone who is having a difficult time or for someone who wonders if there are more people like her out in the world and yes, there is. There are fangirls everywhere.
  2. “Fangirls” by Hannah Ewens. “Fangirls” is a book by British writer Hannah that not only talks about the fandom-type fangirls, but fangirls in general. Whether it’s people who love Courtney Love or a girl from Georgia that loves the Backstreet Boys (*looks around*), she looks at all aspects. (Warning: I was interviewed for the book.)
  3. “I Used To Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story” This documentary was filmed by two Australian filmmakers over the span of a few years where they focus on a One Direction fan, a Backstreet Boys fan (a friend of mine!), a Take That fan, and a fan of The Beatles. You never really know how much you relate to other people until you watch something like this. (I get a special thank you in the credits.)

It means everything. Backstreet Boys mean everything to me. I’ve been a fan since the start I suffer from depression and an anxiety disorder. Listening to them helps me get though.

Sofia, 35, UK

Other Fangirl Reads: