From Our Readers
April 05, 2016 7:48 am
Getty / Lou Rocco

So many of the things we used to love from the ’90s and ’00s are starting to come back in style. It’s great to reminisce, reopen those old love affairs, and get nostalgic. It’s super fun to reopen those old debates, like whether Backstreet Boys or *NSync was the better boy band, or comparing notes on what Spice Girl you were.

On the other hand, what has been deemed not cool is to become fans of the recent young Hollywood stars. Like, actual fans, and not in an ironic way. Right now, I am 27 years old. I pay my bills, watch a lot of HGTV, drink coffee, and try my best to function in the world.  I am an adult by day, but by night, I am a total fangirl. I keep up with the Kardashians, I double tap on Harry Styles posts on Instagram, I’m constantly on the look out for Snapchat updates from Nick and Joe Jonas, and tweet at Ashton Irwin on Twitter like we’re old friends.

I used to keep these things hidden because I didn’t want to be labeled weird for liking things that are catered to the teens and tweens of the world. But I’m here to tell you: It’s okay. Really. No one can tell you what you can or can’t like, or make you feel like you need to say, “It’s just a guilty pleasure!” You shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. I used to, and I hid the fact that I actually like One Direction (RIP), 5 Seconds of Summer, The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato. Funny thing is, one day I just stopped caring.

I was talking to a friend, and I said, “Hey, have you heard that ‘She Looks So Perfec’t song by that band? Would you still be my friend if I said I liked it?” She responded, “OH MY GOD, NO! I like it too!”

Once it’s out in the open, you feel a sense of freedom — a catharsis of sorts. You don’t feel like you’re harboring some secret. You don’t feel like you need to hide your iPod at the gym when you flip to their album.

As adults, we have so many real life responsibilities. Finding a full time job, paying rent, figuring out taxes. It’s overwhelming! So what do you do to escape from the real world? You find hobbies. You find things to occupy your time, you find things that make you feel like a kid again. That’s where teen Hollywood comes in.

The difference between liking these pop stars now is that it’s not that serious. It’s not like when you were 13 and being a fan of something was like life or death. You had to defend your love! You had to prove you loved them the most, that you knew every single thing about them. You got your hands on every Teen Bop and Tiger Beat they were mentioned in. You knew every lyric by heart. You knew their eye color, where they grew up, even their favorite ice cream! Now, you can just enjoy keeping up with them without that feeling of additional pressure… it’s just fun. It’s a way to leave behind these adulthood things and be a kid at heart. It’s fun to blast some Taylor Swift, sing into your hair brush, and check her Instagram every once in a while.

When you’re older, you gain a new perspective. Listening to some of these artists does provoke nostalgia. While I may not be their age now, and may not be going through the same things at this moment, I do know the feelings they’re singing about. I went through those things, and I made it out to the other side. Listening to these kids talk about this stuff, I feel it all over again, and I know it’s going to be okay. Sometimes I think about the actual teens who are watching and listening and I wish I had some of these artists during my formative years. I wish I had someone like Demi Lovato, who has opened up the topic of mental health. That is such a huge thing for teens who are processing so many ideas, thoughts, and emotions. They have been deemed role models (whether they want to be or not) helping blaze the trail for today’s youth. They also just happen to be very talented. So shouldn’t I be allowed to appreciate them, even if they are younger than me?

I have begun to own my fandom life. I went to a One Direction concert and I can honestly say it was one of the best times I’ve ever had. Me and my three friends were able to jump and scream and be completely ridiculous without any fear of judgment. To be honest, I saw a lot more young adults than I did kids with parents. I’ve seen 5 Seconds of Summer twice, and I’m going again this summer. Why? Because they are actually a great band and they don’t get the credit they deserve. Yes, they are young and their first album sorta put them in that almost boy band category, but they don’t care about any of that, so why should we? They actually play all their own instruments, they write their own music and are currently on the rise to take the world by storm. And then there’s Taylor Swift. She has written the soundtrack to my life. When I heard Fifteen, I was so far away from actually being 15, but those lyrics really captured that moment in my life. Even now when I listen to it, I get a bit emotional thinking of my own teenage experience.

The point of all of this is simple. Take pride in things you like. Don’t let others or society deem what is “cool” and what’s “not cool.” You know what’s cool? Being yourself.  There are others out there who also like these things, too. You will find them, create bonds with them, and it will be a way to not feel so alone in this crazy, busy world. It’s easy to fall into the monotony of real life, we need these fun things to stay sane. I don’t care if anyone thinks my fangirling is lame. As 5 Seconds of Summer once said,  “They say we’re losers, and we’re alright with that.” I’ve embraced myself, and I promise you will, too.

Jennifer Clarice is the self-proclaimed president of the Leonardo DiCaprio fan club for the last 20 years. She often spends her days eating candy and coffee for breakfast and dreaming of baking cupcakes with Taylor Swift. Follow her streaming unfiltered thoughts on Twitter or her blog

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