Stan up: Social media-savvy students embrace fangirl roots

Popular artists are featured on Baylor themed stan accounts, editing celebrities in front of popular spots on campus. Photo courtesy of @baylor.harries

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

Last semester, a new type of Instagram meme account took hold on Baylor’s campus. Instagram stan accounts centered around editing popular musical artists into scenes familiar to Baylor students slowly took over Instagram stories as they were reposted and shared hundreds of times. As opposed to other meme accounts, stan accounts document a different side of student life — music taste.

The relatability of these pages is what makes them so popular. According to the owner of the Instagram account Baylor Harry stans (@baylor.harries), students love seeing Harry Styles photoshopped to look as if he’s heading to class at the Baylor Sciences Building or grabbing a quick lunch from the Bill Daniel Student Center food court, things students do daily.

“Students can relate to the campus,” the owner of Baylor Niall stans (@baylor.niallers), a fan account for former One Direction member Niall Horan, said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve sat at that table.’”

The girls behind these accounts have all seen the artists they feature live in concert multiple times, and have been devoted fans for years. The owner of 5SOS at Baylor (@5sos.baylor) said she’s seen the band 5 Seconds of Summer 11 times over the past decade.

“I’ve been a fan since 2012,” the owner of 5SOS at Baylor said. “I was probably in either sixth or seventh grade.”

Another common thread among these accounts is they all felt that teenage girls are looked down on for their interests, especially when it comes to music groups like those featured on their accounts.

“I was that girl in seventh grade who had the One Direction binder and all of my friends thought it was weird,” the owner of Baylor Niall stans said. “But now, it’s kind of cool to like Harry Styles. It made a comeback.”

At the end of the day, these accounts are helping students embrace a side of themselves that may have once been made fun of for by their peers.

“There might be people who think it’s kind of stupid,” the owner of Baylor Harry stans said. “But as long as it makes you happy, it doesn’t really matter what other people think of it. ”

Despite the judgment, the reality is that girls, like those who create these pages and those who follow them, influence the music industry in powerful ways. The top accounts of this kind, including those based around Taylor Swift, K-pop boy band BTS and Ed Sheeran, have a combined following of nearly 3,000 people.

As popular as these accounts are on Baylor’s campus, they aren’t unique to Waco. College students across the country have created stan accounts at their own schools, Harry Styles being one of the most popular subjects. In fact, many of these types of pages follow some from other colleges as well as those at their own.

Because of the sheer number of students following these accounts, they’ve become a resource for those traveling to concerts, or simply looking to build an on-campus community of people who share an interest. The owner of Baylor Harry stans said she organized a carpool to the final shows of Harry Styles’ tour in Little Rock, Ark., and Houston.

“It helped make it feel like, even though you’re away from home, at least you know someone here,” the owner of Baylor Harry stans said. “We were making new friends at the same time. It helped me realize that there are people with the same interests as me here.”