Katie - An Ordinary Story with an Extraordinary Response

About ten days ago, I was sitting at my computer, planning my weekly post for Portrait Of An Adoption.  I knew exactly what I was going to write about.  I had been saddened by my daughter Katie's (now infamous) troubles with being teased over her Star Wars water bottle, and since it was Anti-Bullying week, it seemed fitting to talk about how simple teasing left unchecked can climb the slippery slope to bullying down the road.

Usually, when I write a post, several hundred people read it immediately.  If it is particularly compelling, several thousand people read it within a few days, and then readership tapers off.  

That is exactly what happened for the first few days after my post Anti Bullying Begins in the First Grade was published.

But then a reader forwarded it to http://www.epbot.com/

The passionate self-proclaimed "Girl Geeks" of EPBOT rushed to Katie's defense, kicking off a flurry of attention that has been nothing short of astonishing.  Within hours, the article was being tweeted madly around the world with the hashtag #MayTheForceBeWithKatie.  Star Wars fans, female and male, took up the cause of defending female Star Wars fans.

How did this happen?  

Katie's experience is no different than that of millions of schoolchildren around the world.  Kids get teased every day.  There was nothing extraordinary about her particular case.  And that is exactly why I think it struck such a responsive chord.

Because Katie's story is everyone's story.

Because every parent can see Katie in his or her child.  Because every "Girl Geek" can see Katie in herself.  The very ordinariness of the story is what makes it so relatable, and thus has created such an extraordinary response.

The comments, thousands of them combined from various blogs around the world, tell a story.  They tell us that we are not alone, that teasing, pain and ultimately, resilience, are all part of the human condition.  They tell us that someone cares.

People want to tell their stories.  

Katie's relatively innocuous story has kicked off a massive therapy session, allowing people to come together and share their own version of the Star Wars water bottle.

So where do we go from here?

For one, I invite anyone whose child has been teased to read the comments to Katie, and substitute your own child's name in where it says "Dear Katie."   Katie represents every child, any child.  

Additionally, we should talk with our children about how toys are labeled. One reader sent me an email today and included a photo of the toy section at Walmart, where the toys were grouped into two sections.  Yep, you guessed it.  One side was labeled "Boys" and the other side was labeled "Girls".  

It's no wonder the little boys at Katie's school told her that Star Wars is only for boys.  They walk into Walmart and see Star Wars in the explicitly labeled "Boys" section.  The responses to my article have shown that many girls must be shopping in the boys section.

Finally, a Facebook Event has been created on December 10th inviting people to wear a Star Wars article of clothing in support of "Geek Pride" and Katie.  Since it is the holiday season, my husband and I would like to remarket this event as "Wear Star Wars - Share Star Wars." 

We ask that each person who decides to wear a Star Wars item also make a donation of a single Star Wars/ science fiction toy to a shelter or hospital on December 10th.  (And please specify that the toy can go to a girl OR a boy, not just a boy).

Please refrain from sending any Star Wars toys or items to Katie, as we prefer that a needy child receive these items, and Katie has what she needs.

As far as Katie goes, she has definitely internalized the message that girls can like Star Wars too!  We are reading every single comment, and we plan to print them all into a book for her to cherish as she grows older and navigates the tough teenage years.

Here is a news segment about the phenomenal response to the article:

And here is a radio interview:

http://www.wgnradio.com/shows/alexamy/wgnam-alexamy-starwars112010,0,4588921.mp3file

To keep up with Katie, please "like" Portrait of An Adoption on Facebook.  I post all my articles there. 

Please go here http://www.babble.com/babble-50/mommy-bloggers/nominate-a-blogger/
to vote for Portrait as a best Mom Blog of 2010. It is currently about number 43 of 440 nominated blogs.

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful holiday season, from our family to yours! 

Carrie Goldman
Author, Portrait of an Adoption

Comments

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  • Dear Carrie,

    It has been such a pleasure to read your writings. You are exactly right. We all see ourselves or someone we know in Katie. I was bullied myself in elementary school and I have a niece that has been the victim of bullying in middle school the past couple of years. Katie's story struck a chord with everyone. Katie is so blessed to have you and your husband as parents to teach her the how to handle these tough situations and how to handle them the right way. You have been very inspiring.

    Katie's story is one of many that keep me fighting for female Star Wars fans everyday. Five years ago, when I started doing the voice of Ahsoka Tano on The Clone Wars, I was dismayed to find little to no merchandise for female Star Wars fans. I was shocked because I knew that there were a ton of female fans out there. Well, I started doing my research and found out that close to half of all Star Wars fans are women. Eighty percent of the consumer market is female and close to fifty percent of Star Wars fans are female and the numbers weren't adding up. I asked why we didn't have more merchandise and I was told that women would not buy the products and I should just be happy with a men's size small. This answer was not acceptable to me. Star Wars is for everyone and there SHOULD be Star Wars products in the girls section too! Especially now that we have Ahsoka, a female jedi as a lead character! This past summer, I launched "Her Universe" and we have created the first Star Wars collection just for women. You will definitely be receiving a package from me before December 10th for you and Katie. Not only is Her Universe a merchandise line but it is also a community. It's a place where female sci-fi fans can come out of hiding and step into the spotlight. It's been amazing to read all of the stories from the girls on our site who were scared to truly be themselves in fear of being bullied and also to hear from the women who are proud to say that they are a sci-fi fan! I am excited to say that we just announced a new partnership with Syfy to do their merchandise because half of their viewers on their entire network are women! So the numbers are there but the stereotype still exists. How do we break down that barrier? We speak up! Just like you did last week. Thank you for sharing your voice. It's been a HUGE week for female Star Wars fans everywhere. We just want to be treated equally.

    All my best,
    Ashley

  • Dear Ashley,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. This has been an eye-opening experience for me! It's so true what you have said. Katie owns one Star Wars T-shirt, and her dad had to buy it in the boys' section at Target. I have been amazed at how many women have banded together and shared their own personal stories with Katie. Congratulations on all you have achieved in your own battle to break down gender bias! May the Force Be With You, Carrie

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Carrie, you guys aren't the only ones shopping in the "wrong" section for clothes. My son dearly wanted some penguin pajamas from Target--from the girls' section. They were too expensive for a regular purchase, but I just bought them yesterday for a Christmas present for him. They'll go great with the matching slippers and camo robe. Lol!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    I teared up a bit reading this story. First, I was, and still am, a huge Star Wars fan. I had loads of the toys, I remember seeing Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in theaters as a little girl, and I also enjoyed tons of other "boy" stuff - Transformers, Legos, basketball, and drums to name a few - and often rejected pink things, dolls, and other "girl" stuff because I couldn't stand to be told that I couldn't do or have something because I was a girl and that I had to stick with pink frilly stuff only. Soooo grateful that my parents supported and encouraged me!

    Fast forward 25 years and I am troubled by the fact that my son (who is also adopted by the way), who likes everything (from his Star Wars stuff to his baby doll, from his trucks to his new Princess and the Frog sticker) is now getting old enough to notice some of the negative comments from friends, family, and even strangers when they see his Jessie doll (from Toy Story, because they think he should only have Buzz and Woody), or they hear him ask for a pink balloon at the grocery store, or he drinks out of a purple cup instead of one that is a "boy" color, or they hear I'm taking him to a dance class. I ALWAYS tell these people that we don't believe in boy colors/toys/activities and girl colors/toys/activities so keep your comments to yourself but I won't always be there to catch it and soon he'll start to listen to them and he'll be shamed out of enjoying things he loves...heartbreaking.

    And now we are expecting twin girls! So excited but we are already dreading the fight that seems much harder, at least right now - the fight for others to make our girls as prissy as possible and our fight to keep them well-rounded, strong, and not drowning in all things pink, princess, baby doll, frilly, etc. We are not against pink. We would be happy for them to have a doll just like their big brother has a doll (not 80 million dolls, just a couple). We are even a little more into some of the cute clothes that are out there for them than we ever thought we'd be. BUT, we also plan to surround them with Star Wars toys, trucks, legos, etc to help balance all the "girl" stuff that people have already purchased for them. It's just so hard to think about how I had to be strong as a kid in the 80s to be able to do "boy" things and 25-30 years later so much is still the same.

    Katie, you are an awesome chick! It's tough sometimes but hang in there, be strong, and love the things you love, never mind what others say. And you will meet other girls and boys who are super cool like you and those are the people worth knowing. Those are the people who will support you and you will be a happier person in the long run. Good luck and I will always remember your story when talking to my children about being yourself and loving what you want and not what others say is okay!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    It's good to see Katie happy. I wish you all the best young lady and hope you'll experience many awesome things because you're Star Wars fan, being one of many examples that Star Wars is for everybody and not just boys or girls.

    Seeing you play Star Wars with your dad, reminds me of my dad and me. We shared a love for 'Indiana Jones' and there was nothing better than watching Indy with my dad. It was our thing.

    It doesn't matter what you like, if you get teased about it, try to remember it's only because these girls or boys can't see the awesome behind it which is actually sad because instead of teasing you, you could be talking about Jedis, Princess Leia or Han Solo and have a lot of fun. And even if they don't like Star Wars, they could be talking about what they love and tell you about the awesome which you don't see.

    May the force be with you Katie

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hi Carrie and Katie,
    My name is Steve and I'm a huge Star Wars fan from Chicago as well. My dad introduced Star Wars to me when I was just a baby and I have loved it ever since. I'm so glad to hear that you've been getting this great amount of support from around the world because no one should ever be bullied let alone for liking something that is being passed down from generation to generation and likely will for years and years to come. Sure we may be nerds or geeks but there are so many things Star Wars can teach us and anyone who says Star Wars is just for boys clearly missed the point of Princess Leia and Padme, and all the wonderful strong female characters in those stories. Good luck to you and may the force be with you!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Dear Katie,

    I just heard about your story and I wanted to let you know that you have NOTHING to be ashamed of for liking Star Wars. I'm 44 years old and I love EVERYTHING about Star wars.
    I was 11 years old in 1977 when the very first star wars came out and it forever changed my life.
    How much you ask? Check out the pictures of models I have built to scale for my 4 inch action figure collection. Also, take a look at the pictures of my truck that I made to look like Darth Maul? I designed it. I call it the Darth Maul Hauler. I created it in 2002 to pull my 35ft model of the Tantive IV. A model that I built pretty much all by myself.

    http://michaelfright.homestead.com/MICHAELFRIGHT.html

    www.niubniubsuniverse.com/visitors/029Fright/fright01.asp

    May the Force be with you, Katie.

    Sincerely, Michael Fright.

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Katie,

    Here is a Christmas song for a little girl just like you:

    http://www.atom.com/funny_videos/tauntauns/

    Enjoy!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hi Katie,

    I just saw your video, you are a very bright girl. It is nice to see another Star Wars Fan.

    I am a member of the Rebel Legion, a SW fan club, and I hope you liked the presents the other RL members gave you.

    When I was young I was also bullied in school for being different. My parents were new to the US so they didn't know about US culture. They tried their best to teach me from right and wrong. Because of them I am an artist and teacher. I teach a lot of cool kids like you, and you know what, everyone of them (boy or girl) loves Star Wars.

    So, as master Obi-One always says, "May the force be with you, young Padawan." (I added the last part. ^_^)

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Katie,
    I just shared your story with my children, 8 yo girl, 7 yo boy, 3 1/2 yo boy & 20 mo girl. They wanted to write a comment to you to cheer you on. Below are their comments:

    B. 8 yo girl:
    Katie, it is ok to like Star Wars. It doesn't really matter. Just do what you want to do!

    S. 7 yo boy:
    Katie, I like that you like Star Wars. It is fun to watch Star Wars.

    Me - grown up mom:
    Katie, as your mom said, some kids are figuring out stuff and what defines them. Some kids like you don't care, and just want to be themselves - you've got it right! I was bullied as a kid because I was in a new school, my hair was short, and I was a bit more giddy because of a condition called ADD that makes it hard for a person to settle down all the time. But, I will say now, I am stronger because of it. I am now more of who I want to be. I'm so glad you are standing up to the comments and still using your Star Wars stuff at school!!! WTG sweetie! <3

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    I am the biggest Star Wars Geek at my job as are my grandchildren Syrian, Rebekah & Jr.! Keep rocking the gear
    and be proud of what you like..May the Force be with you Katie!!!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Message for Katie: Katie, my sister in geek-ness, be strong and be "Force" fabulous. Long before you were born, I was a Star Trek geek in school, and I was teased. I was such a geek, and knew all there was about Star Trek, that I was hired as a Star Trek Romulan character for a Summer job at an amusement park. I was PAID to play dress-up and be a fabulous geek ! You are fabulous, and while geeks rule, geek girls rule the universe !!! Much love to you and welcome to the sassy sisterhood of being geek !!!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    My dear Katie,
    I am a pretty old lady now -- 66 years old -- but I still remember going to the first Star Wars movie. This wonderful story took me into a whole other world, and even outside the theater the feeling of getting into my 'personal groundcar' to drive home seemed to be magical. I have loved science fiction since I discovered it in the 6th grade, and I know that you have many great stories to discover and enjoy.
    I got teased too, for having thick glasses and a big nose, for being quiet and liking to read a lot, and for making good grades. What was really important was having and keeping some good friends, and eventually a fine husband and children. I am a biologist and have traveled and worked in different countries, with friends all over the world.
    You just keep on enjoying Star Wars stories and all the other interesting and fun things to learn and do. You are a beautiful young lady, and obviously you have wonderful parents. These are great blessings.

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hi Carrie,

    This is a post for Carrie's book, not Katie's (I left Katie a message already).

    I'm a geek and I'm a mom. And *your* story resonates with me. I worry that too many parents practice a kind of "what happens at school stays at school" philosophy, believing that teachers will instill their children with good behavior and good morals. When you talked to Katie about what happened at school and then wrote about it (so eloquently, I might add!) you were a good mom. But you were an even better teacher --- I bet those boys who teased Katie become better men for all of this. You did a real service to them, and to me and my son, by giving us something important to talk about and an opportunity for me to teach him how to become a better man too. Thanks.

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hi Katie,

    Being a geek girl can be awesome, but it can also be hard sometimes. I had a difficult time finding friends with similar interests, and was often teased for being different--for wearing glasses, being tall, and preferring to read rather than play soccer at recess. I was teased because I liked to sing, and liked old movies, "boy toys," and, yes, science fiction. But like you, I had awesome parents who were supportive of me, and that and the example of my science fiction heroes and heroines gave me the courage to keep going back and saying to the bullies, "It doesn't matter what you think of me. I know I am special and there are people who love me."
    When I did find friends who shared my interests, our friendships were very close. I did not have as many friends as some of the other kids at school, but the friends I did have were the best. Every school I went to was better--junior high was better than elementary school, high school was better than junior high, and college was best of all. Each place, there were more girls and boys who admitted to being geeks, people who maybe tried to hide it before, and there was a wider group of people who accepted us for who we were.

    As you get older, your interests may change, or they may stay the same. Just know that whatever it is that you love, there will be others out there who love the same things you do. The internet is wonderful for connecting people in faraway places who all love the same things. The word "geek" used to be an insult, but now we wear it as a badge of pride.

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Dear Katie,

    I just wanted to tell you how awesome you are. I have been a star wars fan since I was 5 and I dressed up for Halloween as Yoda (and my older cousin went as Luke skywalker) I

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hi Katie :)

    I'm a 22 year old girl. I used to wear a patch when I was your age, and I started wearing big glasses when I was 5 years old. I was REALLY tall for my age so I was even taller than the boys, and I felt like all the other girls were prettier than me. Also, I never really liked pink -- but all the toys in the girls' section were pink! So I usually would secretly look at the toys in the boys section. AND, I thought boys' T-shirts had cooler designs, so I would wear my brother's clothes sometimes. I was sad because my dad and mum would scold me all the time for this -- you have a great mum who lets you be yourself! ;)

    I just want to tell you to never be sad or scared when you feel different. Being different is great, because it means you aren't boring!!

    I don't have to wear my patch much anymore -- because my mum made me wear it when I was a kid! I know it sucks but try to wear it as much as you can, so that your eyes can get better FASTER. :) But the funny thing is, my boyfriend thinks it is so cute when I DO wear my patch. Haha! See? People who really love you will love the parts about yourself that even you don't like.

    I hope everything at school is better now. You are brave and wonderful!

    Jill

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Hey, Katie!

    I'm actually only 17 - So I'm still in school. And believe me when I say, I do /not/ fit your average demograph of a teenage girl. Not least because I wear bright red hearing aids - so I can empathise with the glasses, in a way, even if it's the opposite sense!

    That's not all, though. In my old school, I was the only person in the whole school to wear trousers. Every single other person wore skirts, but because I prefer how trousers feel, I wore those instead. I have little interest in most mainstream bands, and never wear makeup because I find it so much better to be comfortable with how you look without needing to paint all over it to make it look pretty. And, I'm not going to deny that I came to know the 'that girl is weird' perspective all too well. People can give you some very, very strange looks when they hear you're into something quirky.

    But - here's something interesting - the people who can see past the fact that for some bizarre reason I don't act like they expect me to, actually often respect me for that. There are more people out there than you think, liking obscure little things which you'd never think of, but being too shy to admit it for fear of being ridiculed. It takes a lot of courage to be up-front about it, and people actually often admire it as a quality.

    Sure, some of those kids might laugh at you now. But in the end of the day, if you can let yourself be yourself no matter what they say, then you're the happy one, and they can deal with it. Just keep being that awesome person you are now, and you'll be pretty much set for whatever life can throw at you. <3

    Have fun!

  • In reply to CarrieGoldman:

    Dear Katie,
    I just wanted to write to you as another female Star Wars fan! I'm a 29 year old woman, and I've been a completely nerdy Star Wars fan since 1997 - yes, I was in high school when I first saw it. There is NOTHING wrong with being a girl who likes Star Wars. In fact, there's a web site called Star Wars Chicks - it's for girls who like Star Wars!
    I was also teased and bullied in school, so I know how it hurts. I liked things like science and Star Wars, so I thought I was weird. Well, you know what? I grew up, I became a biologist, and I still love Star Wars. On top of it all, I realize that there is nothing wrong with me - just like there is nothing wrong with you. It's good to be different - be true to yourself. I'm glad to see that you have gotten overwhelming support, especially so you can see that there ARE other girls out there just like you! You go, girl!

  • Carrie and Katie,

    I read about your story on Friday when Think Geek posted the link, and the update this morning again when Think Geek posted the story. It touched me, I'm a geek, always have been different and proudly always will be.

    Reading today story you are right I can put in my daughter Morgan's name in place of Katie's and it sounds the same. She for the longest time was picked on and teased not only because she's a bit different in her ways, but because she is smart. She has since been put into a Talented and Gifted school and the bullying has somewhat dimenished, but it is still there. She plays Lord of the Rings Online with her mother and I, and brags about it. the boys pick on her, heck some are rude to her. Over the last few years from the time she was 7 to now at 11 she's gained a lot more confidence in herself, and has learned to stand up to the bullies. Partly due to me telling her to do so and if she get's in trouble to have the school call me not her mom.

    Morgan is my step daughter, I met her mother when she was 2, and to this day I'll defy anyone to tell me she is not my daughter. She is one of two twinkling lights at the end of a long day, even when she upsets me i couldn't be more proud of her.

    Katie, keep on being a star wars fan, because i say it to at least one person a day Geek's Rule, and don't forget it. =)

    Blessed Be both of you.

  • Dear Carrie and Katie,

    I'm glad to hear that there has been so much positive feedback. I plan on donating a Lego Star Wars set to the pediatric care section of our hospital in honor of Katie this Christmas. I'd like to also add that I'm honored to be included in Katie's pride book, and I hope that you have a wonderful holiday as well.

    Peace and happiness to you and yours,
    Jenn

  • Hello, Carrie.

    My name is Tee Morris, and I am a Science Fiction/Fantasy author. that profession alone should give you an idea of just how "geeky" I am. I am also a dad, raising a beautiful daughter on my own following the death of my wife. (Not so much of late as I have someone special coming into our lives presently.) When I mention "raising a daughter" and being "geeky" the two are kind of going hand-in-hand. One of my daughter's early gifts was a plush 20-sided die. She used it to learn her numbers. Currently, her favorite TV show...not iCarly or Hanna Montana...but Mythbusters. One of her favorite places to visit? The Smithsonian Air & Space. Sure, she's into TinkerBell and tea parties, but to some extent TinkerBell herself is a bit of a geek. So yeah, I'm pretty proud of my daughter's interests.

    When I heard the story of your daughter I was reminded of a column I ghost-wrote for my day job concerning cyberbullying, a topic very hard for me to write. I think about how some parents seem to take the angle of "My kid isn't a bully..." or "Kids are just being kids. They'll sort it out...", and I get angry. "Harmless teasing" is a slippery slope, and I know as I have been the victim of bullying. Both in my school days (some of it due to my passion over Star Wars) and even in my adulthood. Katie's story, while tough for me to read both as a fan of Star Wars and as a parent, is an inspiration. I know I can

  • Hi Katie,

    I'm a 3rd generation sci-fi fan and a HUGE Star Wars fan. My grandmother and I used to watch Star Trek and Star Wars together all the time when I was little. Because of my tomboy and not so girly nature I didn't have many friends growing up, especially from the girls. They used to make fun of my size (I'm currently 4'10") and red hair. I became so shy because of their teasing that I had a hard time talking to people. It was not until I changed schools that I found my best friend who shared my geeky love. Over 10 years later we still do geeky things together, including making Star Wars costumes.

    I'm even lucky enough now to have a loving fiance who is a big geek like me and into Star Wars. I told him I wanted a Star Wars themed wedding and he was all for it. I was surprised at how many people who I always though didn't like Star Wars wanted to dress up for it. We even agree to get married on May 4th so the Force will always be with us.

    You also remind me of my younger sister, you even look like her. She is 16 now, and is as big of a Star Wars geek as her older sister. She wasn't and is now not the most popular person for her pride, but she knows there are people like her and they support her. I know when my fiance and I have children, they will be in a home that loves them no matter what. They will also know that there are people just like them who have same problems and same passions.

    May the Force be with you Katie, and everyone who likes something different.

    Karrie T.
    Star Wars fan and Geek Lady

    P.S. I'll put your name on an X-Wing model at our wedding.

  • Hi Carrie,
    My name is Chris (Hothiceplanet) and I am creator and co-host of the "Sarlacc Pit" podcast. Matt (co-host) and myself would to see if you and Katie would like to do a short interview type spot for our podcast about your article and the whole bullying story. We would be honored to have you on. Please feel free to contact me at hothiceplanet@galacticbinder.com May the Force Be With You....Always!!!

  • Hi Carrie,

    I was glad to share your story with my friends, and even more so to hear about the outpouring of support you've received. I'm curious: have you gotten the chance to talk to the parents of the kids who were picking on Katie? It occurs to me that there's a couple of useful opportunities here:

    a) a chance to teach them about empathy, and being inclusive
    b) a reminder that, as they get older, geek boys ::and:: geek girls need to stick together, because the things they like will be made fun of by the "cool" kids.

    I'll keep a good thought for Katie and for yourself going forward. Have a good Thanksgiving!

  • Hi Katie! My 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, and I like Star Wars, too! We were at Disney World during Star Wars weekend last year & it was awesome. Rock your water bottle, backpack and t-shirt proudly!

  • I am not going to lie. I cried a little while watching this. I'm so happy for her and I am going to get ALL KINDS of decked out on December 10th! I'm going to make sure that all of my girl friends do, too and we'll take a big group picture :)
    I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! May the Force be with you! <3

  • Awww! Great news piece.

    When she said "I felt really bad" she just about broke my heart. I'm so glad all our comments made her so happy!

  • If you enjoy reading about Katie, please feel free to "like" Portrait of An Adoption on Facebook, and new articles will end up in your news feed!

  • Dear Katie,

    I am a 38 year old man and sadly I can relate to your story. When I was younger I was picked on for liking Star Wars. This was at a time when liking Star Wars was not as cool as it is now. For a time I tried to pretend that I didn't like Star Wars anymore so I would fit in better. However, inside I knew that was wrong. Today, I still love Star Wars as much as I did when first saw it at five years old. I understand that other kids can be cruel, but it is important to stay true to who you are. If you like Star Wars then more power to you. I am happy to see all the support you are getting because to pick on someone for liking something like Star Wars is just silly. I'm sure those same boys would not like to be picked for what they like any more than you did. The Force is strong with you, Katie and it is a powerful ally.

  • Hi Katie, Im a young woman living in Australia (its 95 degrees where i live today so im staying inside and keeping cool) and I heard about how you like Star Wars. I like Star Wars too. I cant cook to save my life. Ive recently started gardening and, as its Spring here, im amazed at how fast everything is growing. I got a carnivorous plant and when I swat a mosquito I feed it to him (Ive called him Julian!) but I do feel a bit guilty about it. I love to read. I like days when my hair goes proper-curly instead of frizzy-curly. All these are just parts of me. None of them make me a girl. Or a boy. I am a girl and I do and like these things.

    I love kids too and hang out a lot with the kids of my friends and family. Two of my 9 year old friends, H. and J., who are both boys, love Star Wars and often come to me with questions about things they dont understand or need explained better. They are both furious that I am better than them at Star Wars Lego on Wii, DS and PC. They say it isn't fair that a girl should be better than a boy. I ask 'why not?' and they haven't got a good reason. They say 'because you're a girl' like this is a bad thing. Like it means I can do some stuff but not other stuff. Like I shouldnt like and be good at some things. I think its easier sometimes for people to feel in control if they think they can understand everything and put it in one particular box. But life doesnt work like that. It would be pretty boring if it did.

    My 3 and a half year old friend, Z., told me off recently for eating a blue frosted cupcake. It was a boy cupcake she told me. I told her that some people might try to convince her of that but that only the coolest girls know that they can eat both the pink cupcakes AND the blue ones. Our next trip to that bakery ended in her covered in blue icing the way only an enthusistic 3 year old can be. We have got to take on the world one drink bottle and cupcake at a time.

  • katie and carrie:

    thanks for sharing your story. there are a lot of other people out here, including me, that have had similar experiences.

    you reminded me that when i was 8, in 1977, i had the chicken pox and was home from school and my mom took me to see star wars in the afternoon when there weren't many other people in the theater. thanks for bringing me back to a special day :)

  • Katie! I was 12 when I fell in love with Star Wars and was quite surprised when both my daughter and my son are crazy about it too:) My son is obsessed with the Star Wars Legos and we quote all kinds of fun stuff from the movie. Be proud to be a fan - there are millions of us from babies to grannies:)

  • Katie,
    During my 8th grade year I watched ROTJ every weekend. At the beginning of that year I even spent all of my new school clothes money on books and Star Wars toys...my Mom wasn't thrilled about that.

    I've always liked "boys" movies and shows. I loved Thundercats growing up and was told by the boys in my class that Thundercats was only for boys. And when I decided I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up, one of my guy cousins said I couldn't be like Indiana Jones because I was a girl.

    Two things: first, those boys grew up and out of their "boys only" phase. Second, when I found out archeologists don't carry whips and fight Nazis, well, the job kind of lost its appeal. ;)

    Rock your Star Wars gear proudly and remember, there are a lot of female Star Wars fans out there!

  • Hi, Katie,
    I know this isn't quite news to you by now... but I wanted to add my voice to all the others. I'm another girl who wears glasses and loves STAR WARS. In fact, STAR WARS Episode 4 was the first movie I remember seeing in a movie theatre! It taught me about the fact that there are two types of heroes, in fact... heroes who have a mission from the start, like Luke does; and heroes who discover that they are heroes along the way... that they have something more inside them than they thought they did at the start... like Han Solo. (Either now or when you're older, read THE POWER OF MYTH!) From those and other characters, I learned as a kid that even if I was down or wasn't at my best, I always had it in me to make a better choice. To try my hardest. To do whatever I could for whatever I believed in.

    Sometimes I've forgotten that. I think most of us do at some point or another as we grow up and face challenges along the road.

    For that reason, I'm really heartened by all of the thousands of people rallying around you. You've been very brave, and I hope you know that what was a hard problem for you has become something that has been a gift for a lot of other people. You, Katie, have given many other people the gift of remembering the important and the good things inside them. Thank you for that gift.

    Be strong, be brave, like what you like-- because it's the stories you care about that tell you everything about what's most important deep down inside.

    All the best to you, Katie! I hope this is a new beginning for you, your friends, your classmates, and everyone else upon whom you've had such an impact.

  • Hi Katie,

    I came across your story through a blog for the show Ace of Cakes. Your story was so touching that I had to leave a comment for you. I'm from the Chicago suburbs too, and it turns out that we have some things in common. Your mom mentioned you need glasses and have to wear a patch. Well, when I was your age, I had to do the same thing. I had to wear a dark red patch on my right eye that had a picture of a dog on it, the eye doctor's attempt to make me feel better about it. I remember that it (the attempt to make me feel more normal) didn't really work.

    I was a little awkward as a kid. It seemed like I never fit in with the girls in my grade. Once, in 5th grade, they made me their makeover project. I thought it would be exciting. But guess what? It wasn't. We didn't enjoy the same things and we were at different points in our lives. They were already focused on boys, and I was still focused on having fun playing with toys. It turned out to be a horrible idea to try to change who I was so they would like me. It only lasted a few weeks, but its one of the worst memories I have of elementary school.

    You see, Katie, its okay to be different, because it makes you who you are. I know its really difficult sometimes, but you will make it through tough times where people are mean and don't understand that differences are good.

    The great thing about my story, and lots of stories I've heard from my friends is, it turns around. And I know there will be times when it is not turning around fast enough for your liking, such as middle school, but it will happen. I met my best friends when they moved to town in 5th and 7th grade.

    And about 10 years later, at 21, they are practically family to me.

  • (Sorry, part of it posted before I was done, and I can't figure out how to delete it)

    Hi Katie,

    I came across your story through a blog for the show Ace of Cakes. Your story was so touching that I had to leave a comment for you. I'm from the Chicago suburbs too, and it turns out that we have some things in common. Your mom mentioned you need glasses and have to wear a patch. Well, when I was your age, I had to do the same thing. I had to wear a dark red patch on my right eye that had a picture of a dog on it, the eye doctor's attempt to make me feel better about it. I remember that it (the attempt to make me feel more normal) didn't really work.

    I was a little awkward as a kid. It seemed like I never fit in with the girls in my grade. Once, in 5th grade, they made me their makeover project. I thought it would be exciting. But guess what? It wasn't. We didn't enjoy the same things and we were at different points in our lives. They were already focused on boys, and I was still focused on having fun playing with toys. It turned out to be a horrible idea to try to change who I was so they would like me. It only lasted a few weeks, but its one of the worst memories I have of elementary school.

    You see, Katie, its okay to be different, because it makes you who you are. I know its really difficult sometimes, but you will make it through tough times where people are mean and don't understand that differences are good.

    The great thing about my story, and lots of stories I've heard from my friends is, it turns around. And I know there will be times when it is not turning around fast enough for your liking, such as middle school, but it will happen. I met my best friends when they moved to town in elementary and middle school.

    And about 10 years later, at 21, they are practically family to me. The people who care about you will be there through thick and thin. Now I'm a senior in college majoring in Accounting, a math field that used to be mostly boys. But these days, there are a lot of girls in that field, and we are not afraid to bullies, we are doing what we want with our lives.

    I hope you continue to keep your chin up. I like Star Wars too. And I like pink. Its okay like whatever makes you happy. There are no rules. Don't ever let bullies get you down. And there might even be a point for you, like there was for me, where you embrace being different and tell people who you are with a smile.

    A favorite quote of mine is by Dr. Seuss, and it says "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

    Good luck Katie, and as a Star Wars fan since I was little, I must add - may the force be with you!

  • Hey Katie,

    Just wanted to add another quick note. I was reading some of the old blog posts and found them very interesting. As I mentioned before, I had to wear an eye patch because I had a lazy eye when I was your age. Reading about your dislike of it brought back more of the emotions I experienced back then. The sticky patch like a bandaid over my strong eye, it was miserable. And nothing really makes it okay until the eye doctor tells you that you don't have to wear it anymore. I know that right now, you are probably the only kid you know with this problem, so it stinks to have to wear that eye patch and be outwardly different. Just like with the Star Wars water bottle. But just like with that, lots of people are like you. And a beautiful thing is that once you are done with it, most kids won't remember you wearing it. Be good about wearing it though, because even though it is a pain, it helps. And if you have one of the ones they let you slip over your glasses at some point, don't look out the sides. I know its difficult not to, but that patch will help you. By the way, in that picture on your mom's first post about Star Wars, your glasses look beautiful on you. Its okay to have glasses, take it from a girl with one normal lens and one coke bottle lens that is ordered to be extra thin. My eyes are terrible, but its part of me, just like loving math, pink, star wars, the holidays, and all sorts of other things. And I know its difficult to explain how difficult it is to people who don't have eye problems. Neither of my parents had glasses, and my brother's eyes got better as he got older while mine got worse. The best thing to do is be honest with your parents about how you feel, it helps them understand. It sounds like you are a terrific kid! Have a great Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!!

  • Dear Katie --

    My name is Ryan, and I am a girl. When I first went to kindergarten, I found out that Ryan was a "boy's" name -- kids would tease me and call me a boy. I came home crying to my mom, and she asked what the matter was. I said "Ryan is a boy's name! Why did you name me a boy's name!?" and my mom said "It's NOT a boy's name -- you're a girl, and you're named Ryan -- it's a girl's name!"
    I immediately felt better, and told everyone at school that it was a girl's name. I told them that I loved my name, and I wasn't bothered by them being wrong and thinking that it was a boy's name, because (although it is sometimes) it wasn't in my case! When I did this, I took away their power to make me feel bad about it. When you throw it back at them -- tell them how much you love something, think it's awesome, no one can make you feel bad about whatever it is! It may not be immediate, but after a while, people will just feel silly about teasing you for something that you love and won't give up.

    I also wear glasses, used to wear braces, love math and science (I'm currently working as a computer programmer!), I am obsessed with Star Wars, I am 6 feet tall, and love ALL of these things about me! LOVE who you are, enjoy it, rock it, show it off, embrace it, tell everyone why it makes you awesome, and, although you still might get teased, it won't be able to make you feel bad, and bullies will feel very silly very quickly when you don't give in!

    May the Force be with you, always.
    -Ryan

  • Hey there Katie,
    I have been a huge star wars fan since it first came out. Its all about good vs evil and I found it to be so inspirational in my everyday life. Take pride in who you are and be the best you can be. There will be many who will try to stand in your way and knock you aside in your path of life, but remember, the force is with you and you will persevere. Stay positive!
    Best of luck to you, Katie.

  • Hey Katie, here in Brazil we all grab our lightsabers and stand for you #MayTheForceBeWithKatie

  • Carrie,
    What a phenomenal story all around. I cried last week when I read it originally ~ at the generosity and willingness for people to share their stories with you and Katie. What a great lesson for a great little girl. Be who you are, Katie. As you grow, you will appreciate your "differences" so much more, because they are the things that make you the amazing person I'm sure you will be. Happy Holidays to you both.

  • Yo go girl! So glad to see Ashley Eckstein's comment, too! I took my daughter, age 8 at the time, to Star Wars Weekend in Disney World and we got to see Ashley, and peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) among others. My daughter even got to take part in the Jedi Academy... after I complained that they only selected boys the first time! People need to be educated. Princess Leia, Padme, and of course Ahsoka are showing the boys that girls can do it too and that's a great message for my daughters.
    As we used to say in my geeky college at sporting events "That's alright, that's okay. You're gonna work for us someday!" Katie will be in demand by employers, schools, and yes, in time, young men who want to share their appreciation of a classic. And those bullies will be jealous.

  • Katie,

    It was not hard for us even though we are what you call the

  • You are so right, this is everyone's story: I read this now with the one ring around my neck. I've never been cool and in high school was the band nerd who loved Lord of the Rings: now I'm 22 and while those in college and my friends might say I'm cool now I've never let anyone sway me from wearing a coach bag and nude peep toe pumps on Saturday and my renaissance faire outfit Sunday.

    If Katie is still reading this: One year ago at Star Wars weekend at Disney World I dressed up like a Jedi with a lightsaber and all and walked around the entire park for a whole day. I loved every minute of it--I still have the lightsaber, signed by Darth Vader himself! As long as you think you're the coolest girl in the world: you're right! I've found that to be true all my life :)

  • I just happened to stumble across this article today and I just had to leave a message. I am a 16 year old girl and I LOVE Star Wars. When I was younger, my parents showed me the films and I loved every second of them. I used to have a million Star Wars play sets and Lego sets. Just this summer, I got myself a new stuffed Ewok in Disney World! A new lightsaber is also top on my Christmas list this year! I think everyone should be able to express themselves freely without the ridicule of others.

    I'm not the cool girl in school, but that doesn't stop me from doing the things I love. Katie seems like an extraordinary young woman who shouldn't let those boys get her down. Those boys obviously cannot see just how amazing young Katie really is. In a few years, they will realize just how awesome Katie is for liking Star Wars! Keep being yourself, Katie!!!<3

  • Dear Katie,
    I'm 36 years old and have been a geek - a Star Wars geek in particular - for most of my life. Don't let other people define you and tell you what you should like and what you shouldn't.

    On December 10 I'll be wearing my t-shirt with a picture of Han playing the guitar on it...Han [guitar] Solo.

    Geek girls unite!

  • In reply to erisagirl:

    Han (guitar) Solo...

    (facepalm) Oh that is -bad-. Owwww! The PUNishment! :P

    Love ya for it though. That is cool. And I even think I know the particular bit of artwork you are referencing too! :D

  • In reply to erisagirl:

    As a U.S Army Soldier with the 354th I'm so proud of you, and I am also a big Star Wars fan and will always be one. The Country needs more brave people like your mom. Good luck and never change, be a leader.

  • In reply to erisagirl:

    Well, Carrie, I was just talking with Yoda today, and about your daughter, he said "Strong the Force is in this little one." Just thought you should know. Happy Thanksgiving! :)

  • In reply to erisagirl:

    Thank you carrie for your kindness and how you manage to send back all those positives comments toward the community.

    As a French Star Wars fan, there is little I could do appart from sending a little message to katie, and asking all my friends to do the same. But I am still proud to have done so !

    I will wear some star wars stuff on the needed day ;) We definetly want to see if we can donate toys to a charity at the same date of course !

    Keep us posted for the event !!!

  • In reply to erisagirl:

    Katie,
    I told my 9-yr-old son your story, and asked him what he thought. "Is StarWars just for boys?" "NO WAY! You like StarWars, and you're a girl." Our whole family loves StarWars. "A New Hope" is engraved on the inside of my wedding ring, and we marched down the aisle to the music from the final scene, where Luke and Han and Chewy get their medals. I still remember the Princess Leia doll I had as a child. (I never could get my hair to do that whole bun thing, tho, *sigh*.) If that makes me a girl geek, then I claim that title proudly.
    My older sister still has a huge crush on Han, and Photoshopped herself into a picture, in Leia's place. More girly geekness!
    My son thinks it's cool that you like StarWars. "StarWars is awesome!" Heck, he'd challenge you to a lightsaber duel if you were here, and then play Lego StarWars on the Wii with you. My new baby girl and I would cheer you on from the sidelines! Yup, another girl geek in the making.
    May the Force be with you, always!
    Jasia <--- my online gaming name: EQ I&II, SWG, and LOTRO!

  • Dear Katie,

    My 10-year-old daughter loves Star Wars, Pokemon, and other sci-fi. She too has been hassled from time to time by both girls and boys for what she likes. It is not always easy to stand up for yourself but she has been encouraged by your story to know that there are other girls out there like her.

    Hang in there!

  • Dear Katie,

    My name is William Jordan, but you can probably tell by my internet "handle" that I was a geek for Star Wars (and a lot of other things like Star Trek and Anime) from an early age. And I never stopped, really.

    I have to admit I was getting emotional reading your story. Because the same sort of thing happened to me when I was in school. It brought back some painful memories.

    But I stopped and reminded myself of all the GOOD things that have happened in my life because of being a geek! All the utterly FANTASTIC people I have met and talked to and been friends with over the years! The amazing amount of fun I've had. And the good more than outweighed the bad! ^_^

    And so very many of those friends are women! I know I'm just adding my voice to a chorus at this point, with all the other people who've said this - but you are -not- alone! Far from it! Most guy geeks are smart and know how cool it is to have girl geeks around. And I'm really happy to say there are more all the time.

    Just as a few example I personally know:

    A girl who is an artist - makes money doing fashion design, but also loves drawing characters from various Sci-Fi programs - and coming up with character designs of her own! (She also plays with our Dungeons and Dragons game. We have two girls out of 6 players in that group by the way.)

    Another girl who is a musician. Actually plays drums and percussion mostly. She was in a steel drum band for awhile (ask your mom about that). And she's crazy for Anime (Japanese cartoons)

    One lady I know is a mom with a son and daughter and a pretty average life, or so you'd think. But on some weekends dresses up in REAL chainmail armor and practices actual REAL sword fighting with both practice wooden blades and sometimes (carefully) with real steel blades with another bunch of equally nutty people. (And I say that with all affection. Cause it's an awesome kind of nutty. And because I know she can kick my butt. ^_^ )

    Another girl I know works on computers and software for a day job. But also flies airplanes and was once an English teacher in Japan. (She's also a big fan of Japanese animation.)

    I bet all of them got teased at some point. (In fact I know it in a couple of cases because they told me.) But they never let it stop them from being who they wanted to be.

    Katie - just be you. You'll make your parents proud no matter what you choose.

  • Your husband and you are just extraordinary people, whose aim and blessing is to teach Katie how to live in this world and withstand all the difficulties and troubles. I just want to show my respect and admiration. It's the most noble goal that one can imagine. Be together, I believe you can do everything being so strong spiritually and thank you for your care, really!

    Sincerely yours, the developer of [url]www.pdfviewerdownload.net/[/url]

  • fb_avatar

    Dear Katie and Carrie Goldman,
    My name is savanna hoehn, I am in high school and I am doing an English research project on bullying and people that have been affected by it personally, and how they have overcome it. After spending a couple hours of reading about your story Katie, I have decided to do my project on you because I feel that you are a perfect example of someone who has overcome bullying. Your story is so fascinating and it breaks my heart that someone would be so cruel to a little girl like yourself. When I was in fourth grade I got bullied too and I even made my mom send me to a different school because I thought that it was easier then just sticking it out. After reading about your story I wish I had as much courage like you You are one tough little girl and you have an amazing mom! It would mean the world to me if somebody could please email me back so that I could get more information on your story and how you and your mom felt personally. But I understand that you guys are both really busy, anyways thank you for your time and my email is: savannahoehn@yahoo.com
    sincerely,
    Savanna :)

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