Meet the girls taking their celebrity crushes to the next level.
You think you’re a fan; your walls are plastered with posters, you know every lyric to every song of your favourite artists, and if you’re lucky you’ve seen them in real life – albeit from a distance at a concert. But being a modern day fan involves a lot more than this. There is another, much more dedicated breed: the fangirl.
The term fangirl refers to a fan obsessed with their idol to a worrying, even frightening degree. The word itself has even become a verb. To fangirl could describe the action of sitting at a computer desperate to be noticed by the object of your desire, or demonstrating hysteria at the mere mention of their name.
Perhaps the reason why being a fan has reached new levels is because of the access fans have to celebrities these days; meaning being a modern day fangirl is much easier than it used to be. Fangirls can now live and breathe the object of their affections thanks to the many channels and ways to follow them. All they need is an internet connection and within seconds, they can hit “like” or “retweet” and suddenly be the number one fan who “literally can’t even”.
The prize of being followed back by an idol is almost as good as meeting them. Lydia Lancaster, 19, from Sydney, has made fangirling her full-time job. She has had some success, having been followed on Twitter by Niall Horan and Liam Payne from One Direction. Lydia said having such high-profile celebs follow you makes you feel good, even if it doesn’t help you get closer to them in real life. “It’s good just to see the ‘follows you’ banner on their page, but in the end, [meeting them] comes down to your skills and common sense,” she said.
Meeting them can come at a price – a very expensive one if you’re willing to pay. For example, fans of Justin Bieber shelled out a staggering $500 for a quick picture with him the last time he was in the country. Many fangirls, however, are dipping into their savings accounts and forking over even more for the chance to meet their celeb crush.
When 16-year-old student Serena Furse from Perth sat down to work out how much she’d spent so far on her celebrity meeting crusade, she realised it totalled more than what most 16 year olds have saved in their bank accounts. “It came to about $9000 which is pretty horrific,” she laughed. “But out of all the experiences I’ve had, I’d pay all that money again to relive it.”
For another One Direction fan, Lou Pendlebury, from Sydney, it was even more. “If I’m honest, I’ve spent probably close to $40,000,” said the 19-year-old, who had just arrived back from seeing the band play in Japan. “I’ve spent it on hotels, concerts and flights over the last five years.”
To hear her excitedly tell the story of how she and her friends met Harry Styles in a hotel spa in Japan and how he invited them to come backstage for photos at his next concert, it would seem it may be worth it for this particular fangirl.
So how dangerous is it to be dedicating your life to someone so devotedly? Child psychotherapist Dr Jonathan Gardiner said while it’s “just another crush”, the fact it is on someone so high profile can definitely be dangerous mentally as well as physically. “Adolescents pursuing these celebrity relationships often experience a volcano of emotions that leads to more harm than good and if they are disappointed it can take a lethal turn to self harm, suicide attempts and even homicidal thoughts and tendencies when jealous of other fans,” Dr Gardiner said.
Jealousy is a common trait among fangirls, especially those who haven’t been so lucky in their searches for the stars. After meeting Zayn Malik and Liam Payne from One Direction, 19-year-old Eesha Penfold said she still gets hate.
But she hasn’t only been verbally abused. The Sydneysider was attacked by a photographer when she and her sister accidentally got involved in a paparazzi chase with 1D. “We were trying to follow Harry Styles’ van when the car stopped suddenly and we accidentally tapped the back of the photographer’s motorbike. The guy jumped off his bike, kicked my sister’s car and ripped off her side mirror throwing it at her face.” The whole thing was on recorded on camera and she turned it into a vine.
It seems car accidents are common in the chase for boy bands. When One Direction arrived in Australia earlier this year Lydia Lancaster had another fan-filled vehicle run into her own: “it was pretty bad but we were all okay!” This was unlike the time she saw Justin Bieber in 2010. She was trampled and left with shattered bones in her wrist.
Worried mum Belinda Carmen said she’s tried everything to prevent her 15-year-old daughter Jessie “being a stalker” but nothing has worked. “I confiscated her mobile and banned her from all fangirling for a week. I do think this is just a phase she’s going through but sometimes I have to take her for a walk in the real world, among real people to expel the affects fangirling has on her.”
This might just be a “phase” but even the fangirls themselves will be relieved when it’s over. “I really hope so,” said Lou Pendlebury. “I’d rather not be 28 and still following a boy band around. But at this stage I just can’t see the day where I stop loving One Direction.” – Brooke McNeil
Top photo supplied by Lou Pendlebury.