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