By Sara Valle-Martínez
Being a fan is hard. As Caitlin Moran puts it in her book, How To Be Famous, there’s something incredibly intimate about consuming someone else’s art. The connection is even stronger when you’re a teenager exposed to any kind of stimuli.
It’s especially hard if you’re a girl. In an era where K-Pop has emerged leader of most fan groups, the diatribe of the “annoying fan” has come to life again and teenagers are alienated in judged because of their taste.
“I think music is really important when you’re growing up,” said Katrin Ehrhardt, 34, a music fan who works as a chiropractor in Germany. “It can comfort you when you feel like no one else understands you.”
Music can help teenager define their place within society, as it provides a way to experience emotion in a non-confrontational way and to communicate feelings, as described by Musical U, an organisation that is fighting to chance musical training and understanding.
“Back [when I started listening to my favourite bands] I was a really shy girl and never wanted to stand out,” added Ms Ehrhardt, who now braves to go to concerts on her own. “I felt such comfort in their songs.”
Music can be a connection between the artists and the beholder. Oftentimes, this connection goes beyond that, and people find a safe haven on online chats, where they can discuss their feelings and views.
“I met a lot people through their music and I made some friends that I still have,” said Chiara Boccia, 30, a pub manager in London who met her best friend on a Simple Plan chat. “It was because of them that I started learning a different language and that’s why I live in England now.”
Deva Fernández, 30, was one of the users in the chat, too. They shared their love for eyeliner, Vans, and music. They felt the love Moran was talking about – the same that is supposed to be terribly wrong if you’re a teenage girl.
Ms Fernández’s seen her other favourite band, All Time Low, 41 times all over the world before she moved to Mexico a few years ago chasing her other love: film.
She said: “I listened to their music on repeat… My dream was to become friends with them.”
Fangirls are always ready to chant their favourite bands’ songs. Both Ms Fernández and Ms Boccia felt like these people whose photos hanged on their walls would understand their angst and pangs and moments of joy, too.
They helped them become who they are now. They don’t regret the money, the stress, the overnight queues, the places they’ve travelled to see their idols live and the friends they’ve made along the way.
“Boys love clever things cleverly, girls love foolish things foolishly,” ironically says Moran in her novel.
“How awful it would be to love bands like teenage girls do? How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan? A girl.”
It’s time to change the narrative.