Fellow Geek Girl Jill Pantozzi posted a Facebook link to this article over at EPBOT about 1st grader Katie being bullied by her classmates for carrying a Star Wars water bottle to school. The article asks for other geek girls to drop a note of support to Katie so she realizes she's not alone in this.
Okay, that right there was already enough to send me over to the site and I was about to add my comment to the (currently) 364 but I wanted to click on the original story to get the details on this just for my reference.
And this is where I saw this. It wasn't in the first link and it took me some reading to find it, but this is what really bugged me.
Katie loves Star Wars, and she was very excited about her new items. For the first few months of school, she proudly filled her water bottle herself and helped me pack her lunch each morning.
But a week ago, as we were packing her lunch, Katie said, "My Star Wars water bottle is too small. It doesn't hold enough water. Can I take a different one?" She searched through the cupboard until she found a pink water bottle and said, "I'll bring this."
I was perplexed. "Katie, that water bottle is no bigger than your Star Wars one. I think it is actually smaller."
"It's fine, I'll just take it," she insisted.
I kept pushing the issue, because it didn't make sense to me. Suddenly, Katie burst into tears.
She wailed, "The first grade boys are teasing me at lunch because I have a Star Wars water bottle. They say it's only for boys. Every day they make fun of me for drinking out of it. I want them to stop, so I'll just bring a pink water bottle."
The boys are teasing her because Star Wars is for boys and, to top it off, she thinks she needs a pink water bottle to avoid more hassle.
::geek girl growl::
Okay, I'm not sure who's raising these boys, but I've got half a mind to whap their parents up the head for the varying levels of wrong here. Star Wars isn't just for boys. It never has been. And this poor kid -- who's just out there expressing herself (and who had a water bottle that matched her Star Wars backpack. Extra coolness points!) is getting flak to the point that she's willing to come home and give up something that makes her happy to avoid being teased.
I don't know about you, but I'm hoping someone from the Star Wars Universe shows up at this kid's school just to surprise her at class. Or that Lucasfilm sends her something special, or that someone does something to reinforce for this kid just how cool she is for being a Star Wars geek girl at her age.
Think I'm making a big deal? This isn't just about the water bottle. This is about identity and this kid's got enough to deal with.
"I don't want to be too different," Katie lamented. "I'm already different. Nobody else in my class wears glasses or a patch, and nobody else was adopted. Now I'm even more different, because of my Star Wars water bottle."
Hey Katie. I know lots of girls who went through the same thing at your age. Who got teased for being different and who liked things other people thought were for boys. Who wore glasses and who were adopted and who had other things that made them "different" than the "normal" kids.
The truth is, it's not easy being different sometimes. But every one of those girls has gornw up to be really amazing and unique and special. They're geek girls and they love Star Wars and some of them even live in Chicago. ;-)
Katie, honey, you have lots of girls out here who love Star Wars and who think you're super cool.
You're not alone.
I promise. I really, really promise.
Update: The geek girl force jumped on this. From Bonnie Burton to Felicia Day and all the geek girls and guys in between. I am amazed by each and every one of you.
Nov 22 Update: There's been a HUGE response on this issue. You're gonna want to check it out here. Katie - An Ordinary Story with an Extraordinary Response