In getting prepared to launch this blog, I’ve kicked ideas around with some friends and family. I talked about my reasons for wanting to start this blog, and everyone has been supportive, in part because they know how much I enjoy writing as a means to express myself artistically and professionally. At dinner a couple of weeks ago, I brought the two final logo samples to ask a friend’s opinion. My friend Katy* took the proof sheet and stared at the paper in a manner that tried to look studious. But I could tell she wasn’t getting something…
“Fangirl?” she finally said.
For a moment, my overly active imagination wondered if Katy was visualizing a girl dressed in a superhero cape, with a bold FG emblazoned across her chest, brandishing a super-sized oscillating fan to blow the forces of evil away in a tumbling mass of limbs. Yeah, I know. Probably not what she saw.
The problem then becomes, how do you explain to the uninitiated what exactly a fangirl is? And more importantly, why it matters to me? Today, I’m just going to focus on trying to define the term so we have somewhere to start. Anyone who gets to know me quickly becomes aware of my fanaticism over words. Words are like weapons; they should be wielded with precision and accuracy. When words are used clumsily, there’s often a mess of wrong turns, miscues, and, worst of all, hurt feelings.
As a matter of course, I like to look words up in the dictionary, just to be sure I’ve got them right. (Okay, admittedly other times it’s to prove to someone else that they’ve got the meaning all wrong.) So it was natural for me to search the dictionary for “fangirl.” And guess what? It isn’t there.
“Fanboy,” on the other hand, can be found, identified and defined in a neat dictionary summary. From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
fanboy: a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee
All things considered I think that’s a pretty fair description, at least for purposes of the short version for my not yet enlightened friend.
If I really wanted a friend to understand the term “fanboy,” though, I might invite them over to see the movie Fanboys, which depicts an unabashed and riotous view of how far devotion to a franchise can go. This all begs the question though – how do we define “fangirl”? Just replace “boy” with “girl,” and fangirl simply means “a girl who is an enthusiastic devotee.” Right?
I’d argue that it’s not quite that simple. Between the boys or the girls, nothing ever really is. In a crunch, the modified definition should work when your friend’s eyes glaze over trying to picture that caped girl holding a megafan. I’m not promising they’ll get what it means to be a fangirl, but it’s a start. Next time I venture into the subject of fangirls, I’ll peel back that neat Merriam-Webster package and discuss the similarities and differences between fanboys and fangirls. Until then…
*Names have been changed to protect my uninitiated friend.
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