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