So, how much are you loving the story of little Katie Goldman right now?
She is the cute, bespectacled, 7-year-old girl who was chastised by schoolmates for loving her Star Wars water bottle. The ruling from the playground was that Star Wars was “for boys.” And so, in tears, Katie confessed to her mother that this was the reason why she was going to start using an old pink bottle instead. Katie, who loves to read, loves sci-fi is Jewish and adopted, already felt like an outsider amongst her peers. So, the first-grader from Evanston, Illinois decided it would be easier to fit in then to stick with what she loved.
Enter: The nerd/geek/Star Wars/any-kid-who-was-ever-bullied community to the rescue!
Katie’s mom blogged about the experience on her blog Portrait of an Adoption.
Then self-proclaimed geek and blogger Jen Yates took up the cause, asking “Geek Girls, ACTIVATE!”
My fellow geeks, I need your help.
I just read this article about little Katie being bullied by her classmates for carrying a Star Wars water bottle to school. She’s only in the first grade.
This, my friends, cannot stand.
And then the flood gates opened! A wave of geek girls, sci-fi lovers, bookworms — and any other girl who ever felt picked on for being different — answered the call. THOUSANDS of people were leaving comments for Katie on Goldman’s and Yate’s blogs. Actors from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, led by Catherine Tabor, tapped even deeper pools in the community. Katie got a lightsaber from ThinkGeek. Twitter hashtag #maytheforcebewithkatie erupted.
And perhaps more importantly, girls and women (and men) were all sending Katie (and the world) a powerful message: Being a geek rules! And being a geek is for girls!
I admit, when I read about this on Friday, I was really moved by the whole story. Like so many others who have been sharing their stories, I too feel like I was a Katie. My dad looooves sci-fi. I remember watching Dr. Who, The Twilight Zone and Star Trek with him. My mom took me to see The Empire Strikes Back at the drive-in when it came out. I wanted to be Princess Leia! She was beautiful AND a badass! But even beyond the geek-love, I was also a bespectacled nerd who loved books. (I started wearing glasses when I was 8.) And I was a band geek! I moved a lot as a kid — a dozen cities and several states by age 17. It’s hard to constantly be the new girl. I was always picked on and unpopular. No matter how hard I tried to fit in, it never worked. So, truly, I felt Katie’s story on a personal level.
I remember crying after school, especially during the years that we were poor and on food stamps. I don’t know how kids figure it out, but they always do. As the years went on and I got through puberty, it slowly got easier. (After I got through the hell of mean girls, first!) But the only way it got easier for me was to finally let go of the idea of fitting in. Once I embraced that I was an out-cast, a geek, then I could finally be happier being myself. And eventually, I could just tell the bullies to fuck off.
But when you are the little girl facing the mob, it’s hard to think that someday this won’t matter. Because it matters a hell of a lot when you are seven or eight or 10. And this is what all this anti-bullying talk is about. It’s for the Katies! It’s for my daughter! It’s for your kids!
And Katie, you just let your freak flag fly, honey! You just be you! Because you are an amazing little girl!