To Whom It May Concern,

Fandom is a means of expression, much like the clothes you choose to wear. Choosing what shows to watch or what books to read is not so different than choosing a new pair of shoes. We each have our own criteria: do we pick them because they’re comfortable? Because they’re attractive? Because everyone else has?

The reason I choose my fandoms, and my shoes, are my own and they are no less valid than yours. 

I write in response to recent events in one particular fandom, but what I say concerns all fandoms: the shaming of fans because of their interests not only contributes to the negative stigma of fan culture, it promotes it. When you tell me that I’m not a “real” fan for not having seen every episode or having read the books or shipping a particular couple, you are perpetuating the idea that to participate in fandom, you have to know the specific combination of elements, the “formula,” that makes you a fan.