I once was told that fans aren’t helpful; that fans are simply just fanatics as the name suggests and don’t accomplish much. Maybe I understand what that person was saying as were speaking on a business standpoint, but in general I think I have to disagree.
I have no qualms with saying that I am a fan. That is rather broad but I am a fan of quite a variety of things.
So if I call myself a fangirl, or you call me a fangirl it is not the least bit negative to me, it’s a point of pride!
I’ve always had a slightly obsessive personality, I have a tendency to latch onto things and inundate myself with everything I can; from language and culture to beauty and fashion. Again I don’t see this as a negative thing by any means- it’s just a trait about me.
When I was in middle school, I was hooked on a TV show from New Zealand called The Tribe leading me to develop an interest in Australia and New Zealand life and especially their slang.
In high school, I developed a love for British pop rock band McFly. Throughout my years as an obsessed McFly fan I inundated myself with British slang and had countless experiences I am forever grateful for. I met one of my best friends through McFly, and my life as a fan was one major reason I took an 8-day trip to London & Paris. McFly is still my favorite band and nothing with ever change that, but the obsessiveness for them does wane at times.
Early in college my next and current obsession came about. I was exposed to Korean Pop through a friend and thus became a major K-Pop fan!
And now that I’ve thoroughly abused the word obsession, let me say…I despise the word OBSESSION! While I wont dispute that what I do is obsess over things, I don’t like the word because it has such a negative connotation to it. I prefer to say that I dedicate myself to things, I latch on to things that catch my interest and I stay with them until my interest wanes. To me it is a dedication and not an obsession. One other reason I hate the term “obsession” is that it insinuates that it will one day end, whether it was The Tribe or McFly, my love of these things still exists it’s just not as prevalent as it once was! At the moment, and for my foreseeable future, being a K-Pop fan is who I am and how I can proudly identify myself!
Now…what does that mean? What does being a K-Pop fangirl entail for me?
Well quite a lot of things. Let’s begin~
& Let’s begin with the negatives, since there isn’t many.
Slight social stigma:
The thing with being a fangirl of any kind is that distinguishes you as excessively interested in something. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not one to say but it often puts some sort stigma on you that makes others look at you in a negative light. With K-Pop at least when I first became a fan I lived in farmtown Wisconsin where I was going to school and not many people had ever heard of it. As soon I said anything about liking a genre of music from South Korea I would instantly receive “looks” and people would brand me in a certain light. Almost as if my liking something not from this country made me a freak. In order to combat this I learned not to mention my adoration for KPop or KDramas in public and to save it for my fellow fangirls and -boys online. Eventually that social stigma is something I learned to accept and I notice it less now. Perhaps that comes from the fact that when I speak of how much I like this genre I am not the least bit ashamed or embarrassed by it, I say it with pride and confidence. For awhile I feared that criticism and I simply didn’t want to deal with that judgement. I’m also a little less hyperactive about it as my fandom has gone on several years now! Yes, when I tell people I like things from Korea, I do still get that “Well she’s weird” look but I have since learned to work around it and take pride in that weird look. I developed a thicker skin and honestly more confidence in myself. So maybe this isn’t all negative~
Yes I do count this as a negative because having a love of all things international will definitely put a dent in the budget. At least where I live anyway, if you don’t have a legitimate Korea Town and you want new albums you are likely buying them online and paying to ship them. For me this means ordering albums and merch that ships from places like Seoul or Hong Kong. You can imagine this gets rather expensive, especially with the markup on the albums as it is. Yes my budget takes a hit when I plan to order new albums, and honestly I don’t really mind. Because hey I’m still one of those crazy audiophiles that likes to actually own physical copies of my favorite CDs! Not to mention K-Pop albums are all unique in their packaging and look awesome! They are all so different that when they are displayed, it’s pretty fascinating!
But on to the positives of my life as a K-Pop fangirl because let’s be real, that is so much better than the negatives.
I was exposed to K-Pop through a friend and through K-Pop (and fandoms in general) I have made more friends and some of the best friends I could ever ask for. In fact two of the people I would call my best friends I met through fandoms, one in particular through K-Pop! I have made countless friends across the country and across the world all because of the internet and that we can share our love for something freely without fear of the social stigma that can be put on you. I truly love making friends this way too because it allows you to get to someone without any sort of pretense, you bond mainly over a shared interest and then grow a friendship from there. I think there is something to be said for that; getting to know someone without anything in the way!
My life as a K-Pop fangirl has given me more travel opportunities that I could possibly imagine. I’ve done a little bit of traveling in my life; family vacations, a trip to London & Paris, but that’s it. But over the last two years as a fangirl I have traveled more than I ever
thought I would.
May of 2012: I went to Anaheim, California for SMTown, SM Entertainment’s festival like tour.
November of 2012: I returned to Anaheim, California for Big Bang’s Alive World Tour.
November of 2013: I traveled to San Francisco, California for Taeyang’s Music Experiment show!
February of 2014: I will be going to Los Angeles, California to see One Ok Rock (Okay, not K-Pop…they are a Japanese rock band but it’s worth mentioning).
I know that in the grand scheme of things four trips to California doesn’t seem like all that much (especially when that’s just a weekend for some people), but for me – an average girl from Minnesota, to be able to take these trips is outstanding!
While traveling to California several times in the last couple years is one major experience, my life has been changed by K-Pop in several other ways too.
K-Pop is one of the reasons I discovered what I truly want to do with my life and was able to change majors, transfer schools, and move home. I know that may not make sense to some people, but after three years of being an education major (the last one of which I spent utterly miserable) through my love of this genre I realized what I want to do with my life and followed my real dreams and transferred schools to be a Music Business major. It completely changed my life but I could not be happier about that!
Another thing that’s important to me is the connection to music. I may not speak Korean fluently but I can connect to music no matter the language barrier. Emotion in a voice, or the force of an instrument is enough for me to feel what an artist intends. A lot of songs in this genre empower me and make me feel like I’m strong and actually can be everything I know I can be. Cheesy, I know, but when you a lot of my life before my K-Pop fandom days were spent in wonder and grief having that strength is exactly what I needed!
Overall my life as a fan is very important to me! It is a huge part of who I am and how I identify myself.
Fans may not know the inner workings of business and marketing but when it comes to promotion and makings things happen no one would get anywhere if it wasn’t for fans! Being a fan has changed my life and I’m not ever going to hide that!
So there I say it!
Hi, I’m Thia Rose and I’m a fangirl~
That’s all for now: Go do stuff!