Eight-year-old Star Wars fan Layla Murphy received a bit of Stormtrooper assistance following a brush with some schoolyard bullies.
The world is full of stereotypes that, generally speaking, do little more than make it a worse place for everyone. Case in point, when it comes to children's entertainment, there are a lot of people (often kids themselves) who carry intensely outmoded assumptions about what's appropriate for boys and girls to enjoy. It's a problem that eight-year-old Layla Murphy is, sadly, all too familiar with.
A big fan of science fiction franchises like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, she's enjoyed science fiction ever since she uncovered some of her father's toys at their home in Virginia. After moving to a new school however, Murphy quickly found herself the subject of ridicule from her peers. "At this new school Layla started coming home more quiet and less of herself, and started asking not to wear her shirts or R2-D2 jacket," explained her mother, Nicolette Molina. According to Molina, the other girls at Murphy's school were picking on her for liking Star Wars on account of it (supposedly) being for boys. "She was asked if she was turning into a boy."
Prior to her schoolyard troubles, Murphy had taken photos with Jason Tuttle, a member of the Star Wars fan group the 501st Legion. Learning of her difficulties, Tuttle connected with other members of the 501st to drum up support for the young girl. Murphy wound up receiving messages from Legion members around the world and was gifted with a custom set of child-sized Stormtrooper armor that had previously belonged to Katie Goldman, another young girl bullied for her love of Star Wars. After "suiting up" Murphy was "whisked away" to a local concert where she was introduced to Weird Al Yankovic who's well known for his love of the franchise. These efforts reportedly had a positive effect on Murphy who "now proudly carries the trading cards of her 501st supporters in a Chewbacca backpack and can't wait for the next opportunity to troop in armor."
Just speaking personally, stories likes these are always heartening for me. I'm the father of a young Chewbacca-loving daughter and, while she hasn't noticed it yet, she's already been on the receiving end of some frowns and less than receptive comments. While there's no guarantee that she'll like Star Wars forever, it's nice to think that there are people willing to lend their support if anyone ever picks on her for sporting a Chewie shirt.