2023 Was The Year The Fangirl Became Cool
“So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it.”
Fangirlies really had the best 2023. Between dressing on theme for events, learning fan chants and catchphrases, and reading into Easter eggs at concerts, fandoms took their obsession off social media and into the real world — and built a stronger community as a result. Whether you exchanged friendship bracelets at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour or joined moviegoers wearing hot pink to see Barbie in theaters, it’s suddenly become cool to unapologetically embrace what you love.
Before 2023, fangirls (myself included) used niche areas of social media as a safe space to share TikToks and threads of inside jokes on X (formerly Twitter) and nerd out over fan theories. Being a Swiftie, BTS ARMY, and Disney adult over the years has become part of my identity, and I’ve made real friendships through these communities — despite internet bullies who don’t understand these fandoms.
People were more openly expressive with their love of fandoms this year.
This year, though, the massive crowds, ticket sales, and box office numbers at 2023’s biggest fan events demonstrated that being a fan is not only more popular than you think, but it’s now arguably mainstream. Case in point: Swift was named Spotify’s Global Top Artist of 2023 with more than 26.1 billion streams since New Year’s Day. That’s like if all 7.8 billion people in the world listened to three Swift songs this year alone.
“People were more openly expressive with their love of fandoms this year,” says Austin Ashburn, a 22-year-old fan of Swift, Lorde, and reality TV, who believes the stigma of being a fangirl is deteriorating, especially as musicians and artists make an effort to reciprocate fan love with shoutouts and personal details.
As stans left their computer screens behind and celebrated their pop culture faves with each other IRL, public opinion changed — and thank goodness, because I love being a fan.
Fandoms Are (Finally) Feeling The Love
“I think 2023 was definitely the year of fangirls, and [arguably] the best year to be a Taylor Swift fan,” Gabriela Bravo, a 21-year-old senior at Arizona State University, tells Elite Daily. Bravo, who saw Swift for the first time at the Eras Tour in Los Angeles, is a longtime Swiftie who used to watch the “Blank Space” singer’s music videos on MTV and write down lyrics on napkins to memorize them.
While seeing the singer live was a first for Bravo, she also believes the tour was unlike anything Swift has done before. “The energy in that stadium was something I’d never experienced, and the kindness and support amongst the fans was even more incredible to bear witness to,” she says. I’ve attended Swift’s 1989 World Tour and Reputation Stadium Tour, and I agree. The Eras Tour felt a major, cinematic experience, like going to see the midnight screening of Avengers: Endgame, but even more epic.
Swift also dropped a ton of content (and Easter eggs) for fans to speculate on this year. Potential Taylor’s Version theories spanning Swift’s music videos and her outfits were covered by every major outlet, from Vulture and Time Magazine to brands on X. As these niche topics were brought into mainstream media and public discourse, Bravo says she’s felt more confident discussing re-recording theories and openly fangirling.
Artists Are Showing Love To Their Fans
When Swift invites her most loyal Swifties to premieres, BTS does hours-long livestreams, or Harry Styles takes a moment to sing “Happy Birthday” to fans in the middle of his concert, it feels like the love is reciprocated.
Even during their packed events, musicians found a way to personally connect with their fans. Swift’s Eras Tour had a surprise song set where she would sing two tracks not on the original setlist. These special songs were specifically chosen for the city she was in or the date of the concert, which made the experience unique and more intimate — despite being in sold-out stadiums.
Even artists have been able to fangirl back. Case in point: Swift, who’s a fan of The Summer I Turned Pretty and featured on the show’s soundtrack, appeared to give a shoutout to Lola Tung and Jenny Han at the Eras Tour show they were both attending. The 1989 singer chose to sing “False God” from Lover, which was used during a Belly and Conrad moment in TSITP Season 1.
Fans Were Brought Together By Events In 2023
Social media has created a community for people to talk about their faves online, but it was 2023’s roster of concerts and movies that brought fans together in a big way and showed them that their community is bigger than they realize. Sometimes, it’s good to get off X or Instagram — especially when being chronically online can lead to some fandom fights, like Swifties going against Ariana Grande’s Arianators over who is better. Instead of having to defend our faves all year behind a screen, we got to celebrate them and make new friends in the process.
These events also had camaraderie and traditions that made it easy to connect with fellow fans. This year, I befriended Thaddeus Yan, a 22-year-old content creator in Los Angeles, at the Eras Tour movie premiere after taking each other’s pictures under the marquee.
Making IRL connections also strengthens the Swiftie fandom. Yan says, “It's one thing to vibe out together to the music, but it's so much fun deep diving into every little thing Taylor does.”
While Swifties had friendship bracelets, every major fan event of 2023 had different traditions, like shouting out “Hey Barbie” at the movie theater and wearing silver and giving compliments to the best “Alien Superstar” outfits at the Renaissance Tour. These simple and positive acts brought people together, and fostered feelings of community — which isn’t going anywhere.
Now that being a stan is something to celebrate (and good for the economy), more artists and musicians will want to create opportunities for fans to come together in the new year. There are already more Swift albums and music from Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande rumored to be coming in 2024, so it’s safe to say fans will be fed.
Let’s not forget a new season of Bridgerton is on the way, along with the Mean Girls musical movie in January for the TV and movie lovers. There’s so much to look forward to, which means fans like me are going to continue to be insufferable — and I can’t wait.