It was surprising to read that the Oxford definition of fangirl is "a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction". For me, a fangirl is not primarily obsessive about a genre, a universe or a brand.
Urban Dictionary says: "A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed [sic] with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and livejournal [sic]. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obesessions [sic]."
Harsh but fair. In my experience, a fangirl is driven by one thing; an unconditional adoration of a person or character.
What do you picture when you read the word?
When I was younger, I was a big-time fangirl. Regardless of what you know about fangirls or what you imagine when you think of the word, I can almost guarantee that you are not picturing the niche content I am about to describe. This is no boast. Without exaggeration, fangirling has been a genuine source of shame and despair for almost my entire life.
Recently I had a brief relapse in the fangirlsphere and it unsettled me for a few reasons. I feel inclined to unpack. I haven't experienced an obsessive fangirling episode for around 10 years. Almost the exact amount of time I have been in an IRL relationship.
Let's put a pin in that and start from the beginning.