We're not gonna take it! Anymore!Rachael Berkey

A lot of kids aren’t as lucky as I was to grow up surrounded by books and people who loved them.

In fact, a lot of kids aren’t lucky enough to grow up surrounded by support for whatever one or two “things” they most identify with when they’re young.

I was lucky. And now, as an adult who says “I’m a nerd” with pride and partakes in entertaining and fun online and offline social interaction with other nerds, I thought that being worried about bullies was something I could put behind me when I walked across that stage and threw my graduation cap in the air at eighteen.

But I was wrong.

If you’ve been following any geek blogs these last few days, you may have seen mention of an article published by Men’s Fitness magazine in the wake of New York Comic Con last week. “NY Comic Con: Flabby Versions of Your Favorite Superheroes!” made me cringe when I read the title.

I read the article and was horrified.

Like a lot of bullying, this came out of left field.

I didn’t cosplay at NYCC myself, but I have friends who did – and did so AMAZINGLY.

I’m the first to admit that part of what keeps me from cosplaying is knowing that I cannot physically fill out the costumes the way that the actresses and artists who create the originals can.

And unlike the little girl who got teased for always having her nose in a book but didn’t care, I’m not confident enough to put myself out there in that way and do it anyways.

The one thing I’ve pretty much always been comfortable with is my bookishness. I rolled with the bullying-punches as a kid, and aside from the occasional foray into attempting – never with much success – something akin to athletics in high school, I’ve never tried to change who I am to conform to what the popular crowd thought I should be.

But I’m incredibly saddened that the thing I wanted to write about this week – the fact that growing up a geek can be awesome and being a bookworm is so great it makes all the teasing worth it – got completely side-railed by what equates to the football team ganging up on the band geeks who are there for every game.

Obviously, not all football players are mean and not all band geeks grow up and continue identifying as geeks. Nothing is black & white.

Whether the subject of ridicule is the kid in the corner at recess with their book or the happy, well-adjusted adults convening for some comic fun, accepting people for who they are and not what they appear to be is what we should be encouraging.

This article made me feel like I was back at the most awkward and uncomfortable high school reunion ever: the one where the cool kids didn’t realize that the geeks they were still mocking ten years later were happy with their lives and didn’t care.

The bullies gave up on me years ago. But don’t think that won’t make me metaphorically jump to the defense of every kid who wants to spend recess reading instead of sitting on the top of the jungle gym.

Image Credit Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion

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  1. The world needs to be taught more about kindness. We spend so much time teaching kids about everything else — saying no to drugs, abstaining from sex, doing well in math and science, etc. But we hardly spend the time telling them how to treat people like actual human beings, no matter how different someone may be. It’s heartbreaking.

  2. Read the article through TheMarySue.com and was absolutely horrified that Men’s Health will publish something like that. :(

  3. It’s sad that it always reverts to us and them, but we can be confident in the fact that usually they peaked in high school and most of us are making more money than them.
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  4. The sad part is we would gladly invite the “football players” into our “geek” world gladly but if we try to go near their world they always got something to say. Chad Michael Murray was at NYCC because he co-wrote the new graphic novel “Everlast” and he said there’s probably gonna be alot of One Tree Hill fans going there to see him and he said he thinks that great and hopes it opens up the world of comics to them and they can be apart of the greatness. I have always wanted to attend just lack in the money area haha. but my brother turned me into a nerd but he turned into a jock and i stayed a nerd and i struggled but now i am fully happy being a nerd and liking what i like. people will always criticize but deep down they just wish they could nerd out with us :P

  5. Great post. I’m a book nerd, as well. It sucks that people still feel the need to put other people down.

  6. I hate seeing people make fun of people at cons. I’ve attended the same con four years in a row, dressed up every year, and had fun. Just because we’re enjoying ourselves the way the ‘bullies’ never would seems to give them fuel to burn us. *sighs and shakes head* It takes a lot of courage to dress up, and to have yourself slammed down sucks. Hard.

  7. As long as all us geeks can still manage to hold our heads high, all the bullying in the world can’t hold us down. People will continue to mock others who are different, but in the end, none of it matters. Just know that the person who wrote that ‘piece’ is probably severely unhappy with themselves in some way. That’s the only reason why people say the mean things they do, and then post them for everyone to see. Screw that person. We geeks are super happy the way we are, and how we’ve all turned out!