when I lost my fandom I lost myself

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[before]

bingey smiles broadly, quite pleased with Qynka's hesitation, then turns away. "OK last but certainly not least, Lealualia, let's do you, honey!" The lights flash away leaving Qynka in darkness like a black bag being zipped up over her head. She suddenly realizes, for the first time all season: Oh. OK. Shit. I'm actually in a fuckload of trouble here.

"Where do you even want to start?"

Lealualia pauses, already tearing up. F*cking A already. The lights cast prisms off her deep gloss candy apple hair. "As difficult as it is, bingey, I want to just get right into it. If I've learned one thing this season it's that you can't hide from yourself. The truth catches up with you eventually. So you might as well just go in deep, you know, take on the really difficult stuff. I guess...if it wasn't difficult it wouldn't be important, right?"

"Wow amazing? So true? So OK, you're a 4th year at Eternal High. A true triple threat, in terms of singing, dancing, and fostering genuine engagement with your fans. People are saying she's the 5th year lead, people are saying early graduation with spinoff, we're seeing all kinds of interest from just about every brand under the sun. And then one night everything just comes crashing down. Tell us what happened."

"I," water works. Extreme tears, she buries her face in her hands. Omggggg this is painful. bingey reaches out, stroking her arm caringly, which should be illegal.

"I'm so sorry," Lealualia says. "It's just still so difficult to talk to." A Target-brand tissue appears out of nowhere. Target tissue: for life's softer moments. "So," she breathes in deep, stealing herself for this admission. "I decided to dye my hair a different color." More tears, the really annoying kind of weeping where you're not making any noise. "I'm so sorry. This is so hard."

"No I get it," bingey says. "But honey why? Why would you dye your hair? I mean people loved. Your. hair. It was so part of who you are. I mean this red, it's no one else but you, you know?"

"Well that's just it," she says, casually shaking her voluminous and brilliant electric blood tresses off her shoulder in a way that feels practiced to the point of subconsciousness. "I guess I felt like. Wow this is so hard to say out loud. I worried that people were focusing too much on my hair. I know it sounds awful to say that. People should be free to focus on whatever part of me they feel like. But sometimes you hear so much about your hair, it's like, what about other parts of me, you know? So I thought...what if... what if I just changed my look a little. Idk. Idek what I thought would happen."

"So you initiate a surprise partnership with Moodbomb. And one night your hair goes from this, I mean red, sort of blood moon fucking a stop sign, basically your signature color, the color way we've always associated with you, your entire life basically. And then suddenly your hair is like, skeleton, like a lunar ghost, sort of white and coral. Just, a whole very different look. And so what happened next?"

Lealualia nods. She exhales slowly. Her hands are shaking. She's dying up here. This is bad news for her but Qynka's feeling amazing. "My fandom turned on me. They were horrified, and essentially voted as a unit to start supporting another character on Eternal High."

"That would be VeroniqDiSassio, who was basically your rival for L3on_real's affection all last season. And also your main competition for the school play. And she's an alto, and raven-haired, we should mention as well."

"Yes. And she's such a talented performer. I don't want to suggest they were wrong in any way for supporting her. Please understand, that was not the issue, at all. But I made this decision, and immediately my fandom was just: gone, they're so upset, so disappointed in me, I have, like, no one."

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