There are lots of jokes at the expense of adolescent girls and whatever music, films, and books they love. But those girls crying over Zayn are also learning some badass (and marketable) skills through their fandom.
  1. Photoshop
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    Do you know photoshop? I don't know photoshop. But young women are learning to use it to make what the kids call "edits." They range from this simple Zayn-centaur to very convincing transplants of the boys' faces onto the bodies of male models.
  2. Writing
    Know what makes you better at writing? PRACTICE DUDE! You can't write tons of stories about the boys and their sexual exploits without learning something about character development and plot.
  3. Questioning the Man
    When @ohlauren and I saw 1D's concert doc, their management company, Modest Management, was in the opening credits. A sea of teenage girls BOOed the screen. While they do buy anything the band makes available, the fandom does not trust the explanations and decisions of their management. Although they are utterly devoted to the boys, the fandom is acutely aware that large media conglomerates will lie and manipulate them. Hopefully this will blossom into a general skepticism of authority.
  4. Video editing
    Oh 1D didn't pick your favorite song to be a single and get a music video? These young women will make their own damn videos by gathering, editing, and arranging existing footage.
  5. Networking
    Through social media and 1D events, the fans meet and bond with each other. After the 1D doc, twenty or so girls sat in a circle outside the theater to discuss the experience. These young women are learning how to start conversations and make contacts by referencing a common interest. I'm terrible at meeting and connecting with new people. I should have fangirled.
  6. Drawing
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    Is a lot of it basically porn? Yes. Do some of the portraits look like subhuman Dali-esque blobs? Maybe a couple. But there are adolescent girls whose tireless study of Niall's nose is helping them discover their artistic passions.
  7. Consumer Organizing
    The 1D fandom has learned how to organize as a group of consumers. Fan activism has been studied by sociologists and their shared passion has led directioners to promote the business of a Long Island lamp builder and call out Bill Maher and Jon Stewart when they compared one of the guys (who is of Pakistani descent) to terrorists. They know that there is power in their collective voice (and allowances.)