I have been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. I had the action figures. I watched the movies obsessively on VHS copied from their early television broadcasts, so often that I think I probably still have the commercials that played on those broadcasts memorized, twenty years later. I was, generally, a nerd. And now that I’m a grown up, I’m proud of it.
Thanks to her mom and an outpouring of love from other geek girls around the world, hopefully Katie Goldman, a seven year old Star Wars fan in Evanston, Illinois, will grow up to be proud of it too. Katie’s story started when she was teased by boys at school for having a Star Wars water bottle. She came home and tried to convince her mother that she really wanted to switch to a pink water bottle instead. Her mom, Carrie, wasn’t buying it. Soon she got the truth out of her daughter – Katie was afraid of being bullied for liking a “boy” thing like Star Wars.
Carrie, naturally, encouraged her daughter to stick with the water bottle but Katie, worried that wearing glasses already got her teased enough, wasn’t so sure. Eventually, after a long conversation about being different with her mother, who believes that, “talking about it is the best defense” Katie decided to keep using the water bottle.
Carrie, seeking support for her daughter, wrote an op ed article for Chicago Now about Katie’s situation and made a plea to other female Star Wars fans to leave comments to let Katie know she wasn’t alone. Soon the post had over 1,000 comments, and other blogs, like Epbot, a “Girl Geek” blog, had thousands more. People, male and female, all over the country, were just brimming with support for little Katie and her love of space ships, robots and Princess Leia. Carrie has reported that Katie is thriving under the attention:
“Wow! Katie is overjoyed by the comments coming in!!! My sweet first grade daughter has been sitting with me at the computer, reading aloud all the wonderful, supportive notes from readers, and her face is shining. Each night after dinner, we are going to sit together, and she is going to read several comments to me and her daddy. We are going to print the comments out and make a book for her to read whenever she feels the need. Today she wore a Star Wars shirt to school and said to me, “Tell the people about it!!!!” This is really restoring her self confidence. She did a jaunty little pirouette in her Star Wars shirt before school.”
Let’s hope that, with the extra attention bullying is getting these days, more parents will follow Carrie’s lead both in talking with their children about how to handle the situation and in reaching out to show them that there is a whole big world out here that thinks they’re wonderful. Just the way they are.
If you’d like to honor Katie, you can donate a Star Wars toy to a local homeless shelter or children’s charity.