We Stan, and that’s OK

Celebrity-obsessed girls have a bad reputation for being whiny and irritating. These claims are unwarranted and disregard the need for fangirl culture.

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We Stan, and that’s OK

by Amy Schaffer, Photo Editor

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“Cameron Dallas!” one girl hollered.

“No, Nash Grier!” another shrieked.

Like most 2013 slumber parties, my friends and I were debating which MAGCON (Meet And Greet Convention) member was most attractive. The band of internet-famous teenage boys came up in every conversation that night, the group of us never coming to an agreement over which was hottest. Our argument turned violent pillow fight was interrupted when the birthday girl asked if we had heard the “Cameron Dallas” song. A new silence tore through the room as we all shook our messy bed-heads no.

She pulled out her sparkly, teal iPod touch to show us a video of a scrawny boy playing guitar and singing a song about how “boyfriend-material” Cameron Dallas was. We laughed at the jokelike lyrics and had the jingle memorized by the end of the evening.

The scrawny boy was Shawn Mendes. You might have heard his songs “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” and “In My Blood” on the radio this year. In 2013, before he produced three #1 albums, I didn’t know this young man would play one of the biggest roles in my life.

It is now 2018 and the girls from that party have graduated from sparkly iPods to black iPhone Xs. The world has moved on from Cameron Dallas and MAGCON, now looking for fresh content like the Walmart Yodeling Boy and “Johnny Johnny.”

I, on the other hand, am proud to say that I’m still hooked on Shawn Mendes. Some call me a Shawn Mendes “stan” – someone who walks a thin line between being a stalker and a fan. It’s a reasonable label for me since I know his ring size and all his family members’ birthdays.

Other well known stan groups are Taylor Swift’s “Swifties” and Beyonce’s “Beyhive.” If Beyonce releases a controversial song, the Beyhive is there to shut down any internet haters. If Taylor Swift is rumored to break a new man’s heart, the Swifties rush in to justify her actions. Stans are the ones who go the extra mile to defend and protect their respective idols.

Unfortunately, being a stan has its disadvantages. Society has identified fanbases, specifically ones composed of teenage girls, as dramatic and annoying. Young female stans are mocked for observing minute details of their favorite celebrities and are teased for their aggressive, all caps tweets. However, male fan groups almost never face this judgement.

June 11, Shawn posted a picture of himself on the cover of Wonderland Magazine. The top comment made by a female praising his good looks was told to “get a life” 134 times. However, the top comment made by a male received praise from 210 accounts that agreed with his statement gushing over Shawn’s physique.

By scrolling through an Instagram picture’s comments, there is evident hypocrisy in calling women obnoxious for admiring celebrities while men go uncriticized for showing the same admiration. Society invents any excuse to invalidate teenage girls’ emotions, even if it’s about how we express love towards celebrities.

Despite the judgement that comes along with being a stangirl, I choose not to hide my love for Shawn. My family and friends call it “unhealthy,” but becoming part of a fandom has done nothing but benefit me.

The brunette came into my life during the tweenage years, a fragile time where maturing is non-optional. His music was my rock through all my emotional rollercoasters. Have an argument with Mom? Listen to “A Little Too Much.” Missing a friend? Play “Never Be Alone.”

Not only did his angelic vocals save me in moments of need but so did the community that came along with him. I followed dozens of online fan accounts, my feed flooding with Shawn content. I became so surrounded by people who understood me that I unintentionally made a family for myself. In joining the Mendes army, I became part of a bigger picture, and that idea supported me through the hard times that made me need his music from the start.

If you are a fangirl or stangirl, do not hide it. There is no shame in understanding Fall Out Boy’s lyrics more than your friends do. There is no problem in having watched all of Noah Centineo’s interviews on YouTube. As for those who judge celebrity fans, remember this: before you criticize someone for their favorite artist, consider what drove them to idolize them initially. Most likely, there is be a deeper meaning behind their stanning than just going through a girly teen phase.

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