As part of the so-called “loneliest generation,” I seek happiness from all places. During this pandemic, I didn’t think that I’d find it with BLACKPINK. Who knew that stanning a girl group would be good for my health?
Many of my peers are K-pop fans, but I never thought I’d be one because I always felt like it wasn’t the kind of music that I usually listen to. My “jam” is basically indie folk, showtunes, and Taylor Swift. That said, BLACKPINK is arguably the biggest girl group in the world right now, and it’s almost impossible to not have heard of them even once. As an undergrad, I’d listen to some of their songs occasionally when I was on the bus ride home, though I never really sought out more information about the group, tried to listen to more of their songs, or watched any of their music videos. That’s why it was very surprising for me that I eventually became a full-on BLACKPINK fan, or a “Blink.”
It all started when the group had its comeback last June. Their “How You Like That” music video made waves on social media, and since I was already familiar with the group, I watched it. I didn’t get hooked right off the bat, but I agreed with the general comments that BLACKPINK looked so good with their stylish hairstyles and chic fashion.
A similar thing happened with their new single, “Ice Cream,” two months later. Little by little, I became so interested in the group—so much so that I eventually listened to their first studio album, THE ALBUM, as soon as it was released back in October. I streamed their album repeatedly that I eventually found myself singing along with the songs and knowing the rhythm. Less than two weeks later, their documentary Blackpink: Light Up the Sky was released on Netflix. Watching the documentary was it for me. It felt like the stars had aligned and the slow buildup from the previous months had all led to that point: the moment that a Blink was born.
Their documentary gave me so much insight into their journey to success that I started actively seeking out their music videos, performance fancams, dance rehearsals, and funny video compilations on YouTube. BLACKPINK debuted in 2016, and as I listened to them in 2020, I didn’t realize that I’d been missing out on so much. I felt like I was late to the party, but you know what they say—better late than never. That’s one perk of becoming a fan four years after a group debuts, I realized: you have endless amounts of content at your disposal.
Catching up on everything I’d missed genuinely boosted my mood and overall disposition. I found so much joy in getting to know the members—I loved seeing how well they work as a group and I was glad to see how much they’ve improved over the years. With their reality TV show, 24/365 with BLACKPINK, I also saw how they were affected by the global health crisis. Even though they’re K-pop superstars, I related to their struggles in grappling with the new reality and challenges of the pandemic.
Becoming a Blink was good for me, too. There’s a sense of belongingness in the way that so many people feel the same way as I do about BLACKPINK, and it makes me feel like my feelings and emotions are valid. I love all four of them, and though I do have a favorite, it makes me happy that I’m not the only one who gets excited when any of the girls have a new commercial, project, or advertisement. As a fan, the littlest of things bring me (and other Blinks) joy, and all these positive feelings of being a fan aren’t unfounded.
“Being part of a fandom can have significant benefits on a person's life, including, but not limited to, improved self-esteem, a well-defined sense of self, and a greater sense of purpose,” says Laurel Steinberg, PhD, psychotherapist and fandom expert. It can also provide mental health support for many individuals during this pandemic, she adds.
Personally, I did find respite in BLACKPINK during this traumatic and stressful time. It would be an understatement to say that this period can be isolating, but the collective experience of being a fan allowed me to celebrate the girls’ success as part of a global faction. I feel like I became a Blink at such a good time in their career because not only was I there for the release of their first studio album and documentary, but I also got to enjoy their online concert, “THE SHOW,” with every Blink around the world last January.
The fact that it wasn’t a physical concert made it even more of a collective experience because every Blink had the same opportunity as everyone else. There was no rush to get tickets with the fear that good seats were going to run out, no feelings of jealousy over the countries that got to watch the concert first, and no shaky videos of cute moments that would never be repeated again. The online concert allowed all Blinks to watch the same show and have exactly the same experience, no matter who or where they were, and that’s as united as it can get.
It’s been a truly wonderful experience being a dedicated fan. I see BLACKPINK as a constant dose of happy hormones, and I'm glad that being a fan of such a successful group is good for my health. For me, being a Blink isn't necessarily a coping mechanism to escape reality. If anything, it's helping me seek out the positive and wonderful things that already exist in the world today.
As Steinberg puts it, “the human drive for affiliation is life-long,” and anyone of any age can experience the mental, social, and emotional health benefits of being part of a fandom. There’s power in numbers, and I’m happy to be part of something bigger than myself.