THE FANGIRL LIFE: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal (TarcherPerigee; July 5) is Kathleen’s guide on channeling amazing fangirl traits into moving forward in real life, too. Hilarious and down-to-earth, THE FANGIRL LIFE includes info like:
· What a “fangirl” is, why being one is stigmatized, and how people who identify as fangirls can also direct those incredible traits into their own lives, too
· How to avoid the myths fictional romance perpetuates
· Real tactics based in mental health practice to decrease anxiety
· Ways to utilize fangirl characteristics of devotion, attention to detail, and excellent memory for a stronger, more aware, and more kick-ass life
Please leave a comment with how you're a fangirl (USA entry please!).
ABOUT THE ATHOR
KATHLEEN SMITH runs the website FangirlTherapy.com, where she answers questions submitted by fangirls struggling with their obsessions. She's written for websites such as Slate, Lifehacker, HelloGiggles, Bustle, and Thought Catalog. Kathleen is also a licensed therapist and mental health journalist, reporting for publications and sites such as Counseling Today, The Huffington Post, and PsychCentral. An out-and-proud fangirl, she read every Star Wars universe novel then in existence by the time she was 12 years old and was a blogger for the popular website What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear?, where she chronicled a year of not wearing pants, as inspired by the hit show Glee (before it was ruined beyond all recognition). She would never turn down a ticket to Comic-Con. She’s on Twitter @fangirltherapy.
“In this witty and sympathetic debut, therapist Smith—a self-proclaimed fangirl and proprietor of the blog Fangirl Therapy—offers wise advice on being a devout but well-rounded fan and even turning obsession into inspiration for one’s own life.”
--Publishers Weekly praise for THE FANGIRL LIFE
EXAMPLE Q&A WITH KATHLEEN SMITH – AUTHOR OF THE FANGIRL LIFE
1. Ok, Kathleen – what do you define as a “fangirl?”
There is so much gatekeeping when it comes to fangirling. So I try to keep my definition broad. I would say that if you really enjoy something and you want to call yourself a fangirl, then you’re in the club. In general, fangirls like a show, book, band, etc. enough to seek out a community of people who enjoy the same. Their enthusiasm is wonderful, creative, and contagious. They don’t want to experience something passively. They feel the urge to participate in a story as writers, artists, critics, advocates, and so forth. In short, we jump in the game, but we play by our own rules.
2. You are a licensed therapist who also deeply identifies as a fangirl. How did this combination help inspire this book?
I think most people who are therapists or counselors have this innate curiosity about how people operate, both in their minds and in their relationships with others. Coincidentally, fangirls have a similar curiosity. It just happens to be directed at fictional characters or celebrities. As both a fangirl and a therapist, I love experimenting and finding techniques and ideas that help me life a fuller, braver life. Many of these ideas come from thinking about people who have been role models for me both in fiction and real life.
This experimenting inspired me to write a self-improvement book that utilized the language and world of the fangirl. The book breaks down many of the topics relevant to fangirls, but it also has a lot of theory based in the mental health world. I take a lot of the knowledge I have as a therapist but turn it into fangirl speak. So in a way the book is a test-lab for fangirls for learning powerful life skills and creating a courageous narrative for themselves.
3. What do you fangirl about, most of the time?
For me, fangirling has always been about swooning over fictional role models. Women who are older than I am who live big, brave lives but also aren’t afraid to make mistakes and pick themselves up after a setback. They’ve been women like Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica, Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy, or Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife. Yes, I cry about my OTPs (“one true pairing”) too, and I love any and all space operas, but for me it has always been about finding those inspirers who make me sit up and take notes.
4. So, even though you are a fangirl yourself, is your book THE FANGIRL LIFE making the argument that fangirls need to be “fixed” or “cured” in some way?
Absolutely not. I would never think of a fangirl or client I was working with as needing “fixing.” I love the idea of seeing my own life and the lives of others as a narrative. So I see myself more as an “unfinished” creature. Accepting your humanity means accepting that you are a work in progress, whether you’re a fangirl or not. So I think the book celebrates that unfinishedness, and it hopefully can help a fangirl to see herself as a person who is growing, challenging her biases, allowing other people to inspire her, and learning new ways to practice self-compassion.
5. Why do you think fangirling has gotten a bad rap, while being a “fanboy” doesn’t seem to have as negative a connotation?
I think that fangirls are most often associated with young teenage women, and there has always been this societal bias that everything a teenage girl likes must naturally be “uncool.” I think women participate in this shaming as well, and we have to be more intentional about celebrating the passions of young girls, regardless of whether we like the band or the show or the book that they’re crying about. But I know plenty of men who might argue that “fanboy” is a term used just as negatively, so I’m hesitant to compare. I think we need to just stop shaming people for their passions in general, as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. I think that self-righteousness comes from our own insecurities and fears.
6. Can you give us an example of how you took your “fangirl life” and transferred one or a few of those fangirl traits into achievements?
I could cite a lot of job skills I’ve learned because fangirling made me more internet or tech savvy, but I think my biggest achievement is learning to be more vulnerable in my relationships. Fangirl friendships demand almost instant vulnerability, because you’re choosing to share your life without someone you’ve never met, someone who knows how much you think about two fictional people kissing or how many Google alerts you have for an actor. I think learning to be a more authentic version of myself with my fangirl friends, a version where I could share my quirks and my insecurities and ask for support, helped me realize that vulnerability could benefit any relationship, whether it was a fangirl one or not. Especially in the process of writing this book, I had to be more vulnerable about my interests and my flaws with people. And guess what? The world didn’t end. So now I have less anxiety that people will “shame” me for being myself. And if they do, who needs them?
7. Finally, the burning question: what’s the best fan fiction you’ve ever personally written?
Oh man. Once I wrote a fan fiction where my ship (aka favorite romantic relationship) ran into each other at a restaurant. Of course they were both there with different dates but they all ended up sitting together. The evening quickly descended into a comedic shouting match. I am really good at writing epic, funny fights in fan fiction. I mean who doesn’t love a bit of yelling between their OTPs?
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