The art of fangirling: What it means to be a true geek

This article is probably some kind of expansion on my homegirl Emily’s article “A definition of geek.”


“What is means to be a true geek? Stewie, dear God, please tell me you aren’t here to tell us how and why to geek. Could you be anymore presumptuous?”

Before your hackles get raised too high, and you knock down my door shouting “KILL THE BEAST” with pitchforks in hand, read this post. I’m not the entitled geek-shamer that the title may lead you to believe.

Geek doesn’t start in grade school for everyone, but we can see how the subculture of a typical high school has made the fangirl to feel ashamed of what they are. The noogies and wedgies weren’t reserved for the jocks or cheerleaders, oh no – they were given to the “geeks” – the nerds, the otaku, the academics, the Sci-Fi club, the theatre kids. And yet geeks today still treat other geeks of certain fandoms, or of no particular fandoms, with disrespect or even disdain.

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At Setsucon this weekend, I met so many genuine people. So many people who were in an environment that made them feel comfortable enough to be their true selves. Yes, some of them may have been considered a little bit socially awkward, obnoxious, or child-like. But the truth of it was, what some may take as being “socially awkward” was really just a fearless attempt to try to meet strangers who shared the same passions in a short 2-day span. What might be mistaken by some as being “obnoxious” was really just a boistrous excitement for a fandom. That their “child-like” attitude was them expressing themselves in a way that was unhindered by doubt. None of them held back in expressing what they loved, and why. They were being true to their geek selves. And it was glorious, and beautiful. But… it’s not always easy, and not all fandoms are necessarily created geek-qual.

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This chart, while hilarious, probably makes certain furry people feel like crap.

Yes, sometimes geeks shame other geeks. In the proverbial high school of geeks, comic book fans are giving LARPers swirlies, and Trekkies are giving Furries slushie facials. How can they call themselves geeks, when they know the stereotypes, and the way that the strange subculture of high school has made it hard for people who love something to feel comfortable expressing that love?

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Totally fluffy and loveable. Via aceofgeeks.blogspot.com

To be a fangirl, or fanboy, is to embrace something, ANYTHING, without fear of being shamed for it. And that goes both ways, for the taboo, and not so taboo. Maybe “furry fandom” is something that’s hard for people to understand, but it’s just as legitimate as any other fandom. Hell, you can fangirl about normal things too! Coffee, the stock market, football, Bieber, celebrity gossip, fashion, or nail polish. Things that weren’t always wedgie-worthy, YES, you can geek out about them. As Emily puts it in “A definition of geek“, a geek can geek out over anything they want to geek about. When you finally coming to grips with what you truly love and who you truly are, then you too can fangirl.

pizza

You can definitely be a pizza geek.

People can have things that they like, but the fangirl comes out when you’re not afraid to be in a giant roomful of people and squeal excitedly about whatever it is that you love. It’s going to a convention with people who are being true to themselves, and being your true self right along with them. It’s that child-like enthusiasm of Christmas morning coming out all over again. It’s singing songs loudly and hoping others join in, without being ashamed. It’s dancing because you’re so excited that you don’t know how to express it other than to wiggle and jiggle your booty. It’s making a high pitched “Eeeee” noise like a “Woo girl” because you’re just so thrilled about something that you might explode if you don’t express it somehow.

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I guess a little anecdote is in order. I have a younger sister, named Natalie, or Noot Spoot. She’s 27, but she’ll always be 5 to me. And Natalie has always been a fangirl. She loves Disney, heart and soul. She unashamedly loved it as a child, she loved it through high school, and she continues to love it to this day. I was more jaded. I couldn’t fully embrace my love of Disney until I was an adult, even though I adored Disney as a kid and still loved it. When I was in high school, I felt like Disney was, well, for kids… and couldn’t really bring myself to say, “Yes, I’m not a little kid, but I freaking biddidy bobbidy love Disney.” Seeing my adult sister continue to express her unashamed love of Disney is what inspired me to finally come out of the “fangirl closet” and embrace something I always felt too silly or ashamed to really embrace.

disney-princesses

When I was finally able to say that I was going to love what I wanted to love, no matter what society might think about it – including Disney, which I had my own personal misconceptions about – that was when my true self was born. I began to surround myself with people who wouldn’t shame me for it, and who would encourage any and all geeks to geek about whatever it was they wanted to geek about – be it little kids’ cartoons, costumes, coffee or Christmas. You can geek out about anything if you aren’t afraid to reveal your love for it loudly, and without being afraid of getting a slushie to the face.

It’s very possible that I’ve made it sound like to be a true geek or fangirl, you must be EXCITED about something. That, I think is true, but perhaps you express it in a different way. I’m ENFP after all, and I tend to throw glitter at everyone and everything! I get excited, and sometimes I need to be calmed down a little bit. Some of you out there are not boisterous, loud, excitable types – and yes – you still fangirl. So to introverts and less squealy types, I leave you with this: As long as you express your love of whatever you love however you want to express it, without being afraid, then yes – you geeked it good.

The true geek of today is now the one who is unashamed of their love of whatever it is that they love, and they don’t shame others for their loves either. They scream, dance, squeal, and get real giddy over stuff. They accept the furries and the Beliebers. They are not going to let you dip their head in the toilet anymore, oh no – they are geek, hear them roar.

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Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell myself before my first cosplay.

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Making the choice to create a costume and parade around a room full of people who are obsessed with whatever you’re dressed up as is pretty ballsy. The cosplay community doesn’t take their fandoms lightly, and thus it can be stressful and difficult to build up the courage to cosplay, knowing how judgmental the community might be. But cosplaying is super rewarding, and a unique way to artistically portray a character or series we often times have very deep connections with. I remember when I first made the choice to put together a Sailor Saturn costume for NekoCon in Virigina. I knew how much I loved Sailor Moon and the character. I was so excited… but so terrified. I really wish I had some of this advice before I got started.


Hope Erica: Make sure it will still be comfortable after six hours. If you have to think about the costume, you will have less fun.


Koriann Naya Bishop: Duct tape is simultaneously your best friend and worst enemy. It can help hold you up, keep heavy/bulky accessories is place, but avoid putting it on your skin if possible. If you need a little help defying gravity (especially my fellow anime/comic cosplayers) try saran wrap between your skin and the tape. It’ll stick to your skin tight enough to protect you from some serious pain when you have to cut yourself out later.


Morgan O’Brien: Your home made Fiona cosplay will stand out amongst the 20 other store bought Fiona cosplays. But it stood out.


Kristin Hackett of SuperSpaceChick,com
Kristin Hackett as a superhero of her own design, with other cast members from Syfy’s Fangasm
Kristin Hackett: Have fun!


Brittany Smith: People will try to stop you for pictures. Its ok to say no if its stressing you out or you have to get somewhere. They will understand. I got totally mobbed by people with cameras the first time I cosplayed at a con and it was extremely stressful! I was used to LARP settings and totally not expecting it.


Kendra Linn VanDonkelaar: People won’t care that your Guthrie is excited and hyper. They will love you and you don’t have to worry about being tooooo annoying.


Carrie Biermann: MAKE SURE YOU CAN STILL GO TO THE BATHROOM WHEN IN COSTUME. three of my corsets are long-line, because i have a long torso, but they’re hell when trying to use the facilities in costume. (too much good posture is a bad thing!) I have gone back to regular-length corsets wherever I can for just this reason. Movement, especially in the LARP setting, is key. If you can’t move, you can’t engage.


Mia Moore as Luna Lovegood
Mia Moore as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter! Photo by Mel Shardae
Mia Moore: Do it for yourself and have so much fun with it! Don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂


Jacci Kaschak: Do not get discouraged or intimidated by others no matter what they say; confidence and pride in whatever you create is a major part in cosplaying well.


Bethany O’Connor: Don’t worry about how much better the other cosplayers look. Don’t worry about how much more elaborate their costume is, or how much prettier you -think- they are than you. A huge part of cosplay is “owning” the character whose shoes you’ve stepped into. You may not have the best costume, but you sure as Hell can play your part like a champion. Also: Rubber cement and bobby pins.


Koriann Naya Bishop: You’re going to be surrounded by potentially thousands of excited, hyper people. Damage happens. Keep a small sewing kit/tape/glue/other quick fixes depending on your costume’s material in your carrying bag or hotel room. Not only can you save your own costume on the fly, but someone else might need a helping hand.


Ayla Almee
Ayla Almee: Don’t worry, you’ll get better. A good photographer helps as well!


Ebs: Balance ur body size with self conscious. If u got a skinny bod totes go all out but if ur a curvier girl, know what works


Cheryl Lim: Charge all your electronics, and have some quiet time to prepare. Pack the emergency kit.


Cassidy Noga Scott: Take lots of pictures. Make sure to get some at the start of the day with your camera or phone – no telling what could happen and there isn’t always time to pose for a quality picture (and there’s the issue of lighting and stuff too). Also: be the character. Don’t be self conscious. You probably won’t see any of the people again and hey, you’re in costume. So you’re awesome. (:


Me as Utena Tenjou
Me as Revolutionary Girl Utena Tenjou/bellydance mash-up
Leslie Stewart: A good wig is your best friend! A wig will make the costume, and helps to make the role-playing experience more immersive. Role-playing is key and adds to the costume on a whole ‘nother level, so get INTO character. Don’t stress. Stay hydrated and well fed. Take group photos with people in your ‘series.’ Make friends, swap Facebooks, and stay in touch with other geeks who love the same crazy crap as you.


Melissa Ann Paris: Take pictures, relax and have fun, don’t worry about things being not ‘perfect.’


Michelle Otte: Make sure “big” costumes have ventilation and a good eye hole… Conventions aren’t fun if you can’t breathe or see the sale items. Also if you have to take big costume off for a little bit do not feel bad about this, though people may heckle you for it.


Jamila Rowser crossplays an epic Spike from Cowboy Bebop
Jamila Rowser as a crossplayed Spike from Cowboy Bebop!
Jamila Rowser: Don’t let your non-sewing abilities stop you. You can find someone else to help! Also, be creative and remix your cosplay is just as great. You can make it steampunk, cyberpunk, crossplay/gender bend, post-apocalyptic, mashups, the possibilities are endless!


Thanks to all the Larpettes and Iggles who took the time to answer. Leave a comment and tell me which advice you wish you could give yourself before your first cosplay!

PS: Good news! Remember that Hot Topic shirt from a few months ago, practically bullying cosplayers to do it “right” or not at all? Well, good news, that shirt has since been removed.

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Geek Girl Pride is contagious! Stop bullies and trolls in their tracks by being proud.

Traditionally, geeks were the ones with their underwear pulled up out of their pants, their heads wet from swirlies in the toilet, and the “Kick me” sign taped to their back. Geeks are those weaker members of our culture who get bullied by non-geeks, for loving dorky things like video games, fantasy novels, math, science (and science fiction!), and anime.

Flash forward to today, and geeks are more widely accepted, even idolized and popularized on shows like the Big Bang Theory. The focus has now shifted to the ridicule of geek girls, or so-called fake geek girls. Geek girls are bullied, questioned, asked to prove themselves, or ridiculed for being involved in a subculture that’s been primarily dominated by men up until recently. This is a collection of some of my favorite geek girl, geek feminist, and nerd girl pride images, videos, and memes.

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Source unknown

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This comic was posted to the Geek Girl Pen Pals Facebook by Kitsune Ninetails. It’s originally from One stop humor.

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What began as an attack on so-called “fake nerd girls” was quickly reclaimed by awesome geek girls. You can read a lot of the story here. Picture from The Mary Sue.

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Via Cosplay is not Consent

fake-geek-girl-comic-batman
Via Rad Rangy

this-is-why-im-hot-geek-girl
Via Feministriots

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Source: “Ren in a comic book store” by All the Fun

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Source unknown


If you’re looking for a couple more “geek girl” specific posts from my blog, be sure to check out That awkward moment when George Takei’s Duela Dent Facebook post turned into a geek girl gender war, Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell my geeky 13-year old self, and
Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell myself before my first LARP
.

Other Geek Girl websites that deserve a shoutout!
Geek Girl Con
Geek Girls Rule
Geek X Girls
Jezebel – not exclusively geek, but lots of empowering chick stuff here!
Nerd Girl News
The Mary Sue

Also make sure to check out two of my favorite geek girl communities (that I am on staff for!), The Larpettes and the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club! These are fantastic, positive, and encouraging communities that lift us geek chicks up. The Larpettes is an exclusively female community, but guys are totally welcome to hang out with Iggles at the IGGPPC!

I hope these images a sites encourage all my geek girls and geek guys out there to live loud and proud.


Leave me a comment! Post a link to your favorite “Geek girl pride” examples, comics, videos, or pictures!

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Things I wish I could tell myself before my first LARP


Photo courtesy of UnderworldLARP.ca

Disclaimer: For those of you who don’t know, LARP is an acronym that stands for live-action role playing. Yes, like from that movie Role Models, with Paul Rudd. Yes, it’s kind of like Dungeons and Dragons meets Renaissance Faire meets improv theater. Yes, lightning bolt, lighting bolt.


Nana Wells: Just talk to people. Shut up, stop thinking you’re supposed to be immediately great at this and talk to people. Ask questions about the world. Find out peoples’ names. Build a rapport with people and don’t remain in your own little clique. Also, bring baby wipes.


Marie Burell: More blankets. And not to be so damn stressed and scared of everyone. They don’t bite… at least I hope they don’t…


Angela Basset: If you have to make a choice between something that’s probably a safe bet, and you won’t die, versus a dangerous mission, always choose the dangerous mission.


Briana Westmoreland: Just talk to people, folks aren’t going to judge you. so don’t be shy. Also, at the same time, no one has any right to touch you and you can ask people to leave you alone.


Kiri Brasseur: CALM DOWN. Use a modern bathroom before you get there. Breathe. Featherlite boning is NOT going to keep the shape of your bodice.


Brandon M Burns: Learn some more folk songs to completion. Approach people with a little caution. Wear more layers. Do everything. Bring snacks. Don’t let people talk down to you/underestimate you just because you’re a cute girl. Accept courtships from no one. Don’t join any organization for at least one year. Stay in character always. If something gets boring, go look for trouble.


Amy Lynn Resele: Every faulty principle that you’ve built your life on is going to crumble. These people will love you for who you are, and not judge you for your size. Let your guard down, you’re finally safe.


Jacci Kaschak: Try not to let others get to you. It’s always scary when you first start and you dont know anyone, but remain strong and true to your character and others will respect you for it, even if not right away.


Stephanie Parmelee: You don’t look NEARLY as stupid as you think you do… Besides, everyone else is here doing the same thing… go get em! No, you’re not expected to remember everyone’s name the first time. Yes, it’s okay that your costume isn’t as frilly/elaborate/extravagant as theirs. Yes, it’s okay that you forgot your name and that your back history is a tale that can be told in 2 minutes. Just jump in. Worst case scenario, you have something to giggle about when you look back.


Sarah Jessop: Your girly friends from school are never going to know how dorky you were on the weekend, and even if they do, who cares!


Chelsea Stoddard: Try picking a character that is not so against the grain of the world.


L.C. Longo: You should pack more socks. That cute guy in the cloak? He’s a dick… Fairy Fire is not as cool as it sounds.


Tara M. Clapper: Bring friends and you’ll feel less nervous.


Stephanie Leigh Twilley: Don’t trip over the fire pit.


Rachel Onca Berleman: Stop taking the world so seriously, and try to bask in a group of people where you feel you belong.


Danielle Sanfilippo: You know how you’re thinking right now that it might be just like Oblivion, but real life? It is. Now kick some ass and have fun!


Jennifer Hartshorn: If you can possibly manage it, take Monday off. You are going to want to sleep for 24 hours after your first event.


JJ Bartlett: Make up a character that has a personality/character quirk/whatever that will cause you to say ‘yes’ to getting involved in things, rather than one who shies away from getting involved in plots. Being a shy/cautious character is all well and good, story-wise, but you are going to want to be doing stuff.


Kiri Brasseur: Yes, this IS just like improv, and the same golden rule applies: never say no.


Erica Tieppo: No matter what your boyfriend tells you, la poste di falcone is only going to make you look kinda crazy during your combat test, especially if you only “learned” it a half hour ago.


Elizabeth Mc Allister: Wander around. Listen to the stories being told around the fire.


Bianca Mason: Be yourself, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and have fun. You are most likely going to make some of the best friends ever.


Jacqueline Whalen: Be more naive sometimes… yes, that NPC is probably leading you to danger, but that’s part of how you get really involved in the game. If you think you are going somewhere dangerous, see if you can bring some other players along who you trust in game, but don’t pass up on plot.


Leslie Stewart: Don’t let that cute boy from LARP talk sweet on you, and flirt with you, in his cute costume, and be all adorable and stuff. You might end up marrying him someday. Oh wait.


Today’s post comes from an epic Facebook group, The LARPettes. If you’re a female LARPer, join up for a daily barrage of fantastic and femme flared LARP chatter.


Please leave your own LARP advice, or join the conversation on Twitter. #GeekGirlAdvice

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Living the Geeky Life (with purpose!): A How-To Guide.

Sometimes we become overwhelmed with all the little stuff in our everyday lives, that we forget to take a look at the bigger picture. What’s our purpose to life, and are we living it purposefully? My favorite example of a purpose-filled life is that of good old Charles Xavier. Charles is a mutant, with a mutant ability (aka an amazing superpower!), who builds his entire life plan around this ability.

Charles’ life story, the X-mansion, and its inhabitants, are the perfect parable for how one can live with geeky life with purpose. Charles had some struggles from the get go: a physical handicap, some toxic relationships (*cough Magneto cough*), and some cultural oppression from mutant haters. Charles sought to better the world, and wanted to train young mutants to use their abilities. He wanted to do mankind a solid, and to prove to the world that mutants were not a threat, while overcoming all of his obstacles.

His “Geeky life with purpose” consisted of creating the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning – aka the X-mansion and home to the X-men.

So how can you create your own X-mansion? Chances are, you’re not a telepath with a Westchester mansion at your disposal. But if you are, please call me. Anyway, to create your own X-mansion, take my advice.

1. Determine your purpose(s).
What cause do you care greatly for? What makes you happy? Maybe you love gaming, and want to share this love with others. Maybe you want to write a fantasy novel. Maybe you want to open a cosplay yoga studio in SoHo. My purposes are: To use my creativity to make art that spreads joy and positivity, to connect others with similar passions via the Internet, to build relationships with other positive geek women, and to empower others to do the same. These purposes help me to decide which projects I want to take on, and which ones I don’t.

2. Spread positivity to the other hoomanz.
We’ve got like 100 years (if we’re lucky) on this planet, and then we venture into the great beyond. And while to die would be an awfully big adventure, we need to make this experience right here, right now, a positive one …for as many people as we can. This means making ourselves happy. This also means making others happy, including people we don’t know. This means smiling at the jerk who cut you in line, and imagining he needs someone to hug him. This means random acts of kindness. This means making eye contact with people, listening to them, and connecting with them emotionally. This means loving ourselves and being secure in our mind, body and spirit, even though it’s not perfect.

3. Pick inspiring role models.
Some of my favorite geeks include Wil Wheaton, Nathan Fillion, Amy Poehler, Felicia Day, and Pewdiepie. They are giving, loving, humble, caring, funny, and fun! To me, they represent the ideal geeky life with purpose. On Geek & Sundry, for example, Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton allow talented vloggers to have their own part in the show, and they take auditions for new vloggers too! I also adore Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – it’s positive geekery, that encourages. Their motto is: “Change the world by being yourself!” And Pewdiepie ran a donation campaign for Charity Water, using his fame for good! I would love to see you guys list examples of geeks doing good in the comments below!

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The Holstee Manifesto

4. Make goals, timelines, inspirational posters, daily affirmations, calendars, lists – organize the purpose.
Get a big chalkboard, and bright colored chalk, and write down your purposes in big letters, for you to read every day. Buy a Holstee poster, and hang it over your bed, or write your own Manifesto. Write a little encouraging jingle, and sing it to yourself in the shower. Make a list of daily affirmations and say them every morning before you get out of bed. Cut photos out of magazines or newspapers that align with your purpose and hang them all over your house as a reminder. Determine where you want to be in 1 week, 3 months, 6 months, 5 years. Write everything down in a journal and read through it when you are feeling discouraged.

5. Get others involved.
It can be difficult to stay motivated if the only person you have to answer to is yourself. But if you start a geeky endeavor with other motivated and positive people, the snowball affect can be fantastic. Whenever I feel discouraged or lazy about a project, I know that others are excited for it, and depending on me! That makes me want to press on! For them, for me, and for the people involved in the project. Co-running NEPA BlogCon and the Geek Girl Pen Pals has taught me that the amount of energy I have can be multiplied exponentially when other geek girls get involved. My project cohorts are like my flux capacitor, always charging me full to 1.21 gigawatts.

6. Allow others to encourage you.
Surround yourself with positive friends and family who will cheer you on, “like” your status updates, and wave flags down at the finish line. If people are making snide, condescending and negative remarks about your work, cut them loose! Allow positive people to be the Chewie to your Han. Going out for Geek Girl Brunches in NYC has been a wonderful way for me to talk to my geek girl friends. We grab mimosas, chat about our projects, and just spend time together! Remember to make time for real world encouragement, not just digital.

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Photo by Monika Kusheva of her Marmal brand

7. Develop your brand.
Having a strong sense of self and identity, built on top of your purpose, is a great way to have something to hold onto, and share with others. Coming up with a name, a look, a business card design, a phrase, a photo that you love: They can all work to be the bricks in the wall of the X-mansion.

8. Let your mind wander. Make time for the geekery, but make time for the nothing too.
As a geek, it’s easy to be obsessed with our computers. I am constantly blogging, Googling, Tweeting, and staying connected. But a healthy and purposeful life means getting back to our disconnected roots. It means leaving the phone at home and going out to the park with your dog, while letting your mind wander. It means getting enough sleep, and not sleeping with our phone. It means prioritizing our lives and giving attention to all parts of it. Ever notice how you get your best ideas right before bed, or right when you wake up? Let your mind wander and you might find your purpose comes to you quicker than you expect.

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