melanie kristy · story

Beginnings of a Fangirl (in the late 90’s and early 2000’s)

I’ve been a fangirl before that was a word. I’ve been a fangirl for almost twenty years, long before the internet made fans accessible to each other, before there was a community to find online the way there is now. Before Tumblr and Instagram and Twitter. I say that and it makes me feel old.

I stood in long lines outside Filenes to get concert tickets when they went on sale. I wore a blue wig just to feel like I stood out in a crowd of thousands. I wrote letters that I never sent. I pasted posters from Bop magazine on my bedroom door. I scoffed at anyone who called me obsessed, dismissed people who refused to understand. At night I dreamed up scenarios where real people turned into characters in my mind.

I was a fangirl during the days of dial-up internet and AOL chats. I made e-mail newsletters in crazy fonts and colors before there were e-mail spam issues.

I wrote fanfiction for friends and strangers, emailed chapters of stories as I completed them. I met some of my best friends that way. We didn’t have website where we could upload images we created and make own our merchandise, and there weren’t fan sites that sold pretty things. No Etsy or Redbubble. We used Geocities to make fan pages with terrible flashy graphics instead.

The first form of “social media” and online expression that I immersed myself in was OpenDiary. After that there was Xanga, Myspace and Livejournal. All were online worlds where I could connect with people I didn’t know who loved the same things I loved. In these worlds I could open my heart up in an anonymous way, like writing in a journal that others would see. I could know that someone out there read what I read and felt that, too.

Being a fangirl in the early 2000’s meant you didn’t have a cell phone to text people, and you had to rely on long-distance phone calls to hear someones’ voice. We took pictures with regular cameras, selfies with digital cameras (before “selfie” was a word). Before digital cameras we had to wait for them to be developed and hope they came out okay. We recorded television appearances on VHS because we didn’t know if we could ever see those recordings, hear the silly stupid words said again.

Now there is a lot of community online. You can find community for any sort of thing you can fangirling over). You can immerse yourself and meet new people and relate. And I’m glad about this. I know lots of people scoff at everyone being too connected and addicted to their phones, but they discount the experiences of these people. They discount the connections made long distance with friends you’d never have met another way. I have a few very dear friends that I still talk to, and I met them because we connected over the Internet. We dreamed about Hanson. We wanted to write like Francesca Lia Block. When I was in high school I still felt disconnected. No one else had liked Francesca Lia Block, no one knew who she was. Everyone made fun of me for loving three blonde boys who, at one point, could have been mistaken for girls (who cares about their gender, anyway?). I’m glad we can get together and post in a group on Facebook, use hashtags and share fanart in ways that used to be more difficult.


A couple years ago I read the book Fangirl  by Rainbow Rowell and it was the first time I read a book with a main character so much like me. I couldn’t believe it. All those years fangirling over books and music and falling in love with songs and boys – both fictional and real – and writing endless stories and finally I had found a character that I could relate to so much.

So being a fangirl has changed a lot over the years. In a way, I think it’s a lot cooler now, but maybe it just feels more cool to me. There’s more access to community, shops that make candles based on character and story scents, artists that sell fanart in the form of prints and clothing among other things, subscription boxes to fill your fandom needs and so much more.


Melanie Kristy

11 thoughts on “Beginnings of a Fangirl (in the late 90’s and early 2000’s)

  1. Oh my goodness, you just threw me through a sea of memories! Bop magazine?! Stop it! I was never a “fangirl” really, I liked Backstreet Boys but my posters were of the Beatles, Looney Tunes, and anything blacklight. My friends though always practically had wallpapered the rooms with clips from the magazine!!

      1. Gah Spencers had/has the best lava lamp collections! Also had the black light reactive solar system mobile in the corner of my room, and a disco ball in the other corner…

      2. Glow in the dark stars were awesome, too! And of course the Disco ball! So 90’s (even though they were throwbacks to the 70’s. It’s funny how trends recycle).

      3. I loved to hang my glow in the dark stars from dark string to create a more 3 dimensional effect. 🙂 And then of course tried to align my wall to the constellations, and two on the ceiling fan blade to make for a shooting star when that spun at night. 😉 I lived in the desert…I had allot of time on my hands. haha

  2. You were a fan girl before fan girls were cool. It has changed drastically, I mean now fan girls make that into a stable income with all the social medium at our fingertips.

    1. hehe the hipster fangirl, basically 😉 It’s amazing that people can now make that into a stable income! I feel like I missed the bus on that one, and I should have figured out how I could do something like that years ago. I watch BookTube videos all the time, and I am amazed by the content that is produced!

  3. Growing up in the 90’s I am well aware of the Hansons. My sister is a big fan of them, me not so much. I was more into Nsync and in my fourth grade I discovered Ricky Martin. I had jelly sandals. Multiply pairs of overalls.

  4. OMG, your Hanson run-in is amazing! I love your reflections on your own fangirl days, and how our whole understanding of “fangirl status” has evolved over the years. Like you, I’m all for the increased access to community (particularly for those who may struggle to find it elsewhere), but there was something special about the grassroots fandom of those simpler times, wasn’t there? 🙂

    1. There definitely was something special about those simpler times! It was so different and we were left dreaming a lot more than we are these days, it seems. For books there are short stories that authors release, for bands – the members are active members of the social media communities. Authors Tweet all the time. It’s incredible how things have changed!

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