Meet Ellie… she’s a Star Wars fan, and she loves Minecraft and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This Sunday, she’s entering her “double digits” (or what she calls turning 10). What she doesn’t know is that we shared her story with our readers a few weeks ago, and something magical happened because it touched so many hearts. Hope she’s got room for the hundreds of women and girls who decided to “crash” her super cool, Star Wars themed birthday party with us to show Ellie how being uniquely her is something to celebrate in a really big way.
Last month, we learned through her mom Sarah, a WYSK reader, that Ellie, who is “tenderhearted, empathetic, sweet, and quiet,” finds it difficult to make close friends, and often feels alone and out of place among girls her own age because her interests don’t fit the manufactured “typical girl” mold.
Ellie has been diligently practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over the past 2 years. In her spare time, “she plays Minecraft with her brother, the YouTube Kids videos, the toys, she loves it all.” She’s also an avid animal lover with a particularly soft spot for dolphins and wolves.
As for Star Wars, young Ellie has been a superfan for a number of years. “She has seen the movies, she reads books about it, plays video games inspired by the series and plays with figurines from the movie with her brother.” She can also quote lines and tell you what scene came from which movie. Oh, and her favorite characters are Darth Vader and Princess Leia.
Sarah told us, “Everyone who meets Ellie likes her, but sadly, children sometimes have trouble relating with children who are on the quieter side.” And because Ellie doesn’t know many girls who are into the things she loves, Sarah said, “She longs to find friends who accept her for who she is and for what her interests are.”
That was all we needed to hear, and we hatched a plan (with Sarah’s permission) to show Ellie that she’s our kind of girl and certainly not alone. Our mission was to create a collective, digital gift for her that would keep on giving whenever she needs a reminder that she ROCKS! So we posted this invitation on our Facebook page:
“Help us wish Ellie a Happy WYSKy Birthday by messaging us with photos of girls and women you know who also happen to love Star Wars or Minecraft or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or anything else that girls are far too often still told are ‘just for boys.'”
In less than 24 hours, our page was flooded with images and messages from legions of women and girls of all ages from all over the world (the U.S., New Zealand, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, Italy, etc.) moved to rally for Ellie, wanting to be a part of her birthday surprise because they all love the same types of things she does. The swell of support and love just kept growing from there, which filled us with enormous gratitude because we truly have THE BEST community of friends.
Sarah closed her note to us by saying, “Her tribe is out there somewhere, even if she hasn’t met them yet.” Well Ellie, allow us to introduce you to your tribe, an extraordinary group of women and girls from the Women You Should Know community who pride themselves on being uniquely them.
Happy 10th Birthday from all of us to you!
(click each photo to read the accompanying birthday messages)
And these were the other messages posted to our page…
“I’m 23 years old, and it took me a long time to get used to being myself and realizing that’s the most awesome way to be. Ellie sounds just like me. I didn’t really have close friends growing up, but as I got older I found those really good friends and they found me. Oh also my bathroom is Star Wars themed and I also love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The things that you love open doors for you, so keep loving them and finding more things that you love!!” – Naima Rivas
“I LOVE Star Wars! My husband, my 11 year old son and I can quote lines from all of the movies and the Clone Wars! My 8 year old son prefers My Little Pony over Star Wars. My boys both love Minecraft – but the biggest Minecraft lover in my family is my 8 year old niece Olivia! Finally, if you go to www.facebook.com/dynamickarateusa – you will see awesome videos of some amazing girls doing karate at the studio where I am an instructor and a student!” – Lisa Budish Boggs
“Hi Ellie, happy birthday! I’m a little older than you, just 37 and I’m a Star Wars fan. I’m also a geologist, which is not a “girlie” thing, but guess what? I don’t care and I LOVE it! My interests over time – I like cars and soccer too, which in Brazil is also “for boys” – meant that over the last 20 years or so I found it much easier to be friends with men than women. But I did find a few girlfriends along the way that accept for who I am and will be my friends for life. So hang in there and you’ll have an awesome life sticking to what you like. You go girl! Love from a Brazilian living in the Netherlands for the most international birthday.” – Fabiola Rossato
“Hey Ellie! I’m 19 and I also love BJJ, I wrestled and played rugby through high school and it was awesome (my best friend is a girl and she’s a wrestler too)! As a kid I always chose more “masculine” toys and pastimes over “feminine” ones too. I also found it really hard to connect with girls my age, but as you get older you’ll find like minded super awesome girls to hangout with. Hope your birthday was super amazing!” – Ana Mercedes
“Happy birthday Ellie! I’m a huge Star Wars fan from the original trilogy- and I totally love martial arts! You might feel alone but you’re not- there are thousands of people who have interests like yours and would totally be your friend in real life! It gets better as you grow up- hang in there and keep on being yourself!” – Sarah Berg
“While sadly I don’t have a picture of it, I remember being five and dressing as Batman! Also owning comics and toys that were Batman themed. And for one of my birthdays I had Goldberg as my cake! Wrestling fans, I’m sure you remember him! I also remember my parents buying me wrestling action figures too! I’ve always been a fan of boxing too, which I’m the only one in my family. I still love everything too. So Ellie never feel ashamed of what you love, and have a very happy birthday!” – Kellie Haulotte
“Ellie would get along with my daughter, who is also not a typical girl. Although I think most girls aren’t “typical” because they are all special in their own way… Ellie and my daughter are special in similar ways. So rock on Ellie and have a lovely birthday!” – JoAnna Kwaloff-Vedaa
“As a single father and a huge nerd, I have hope that my daughter will fly her own flag and be true to herself. That said, I’m a huge Superman fan and have many shirts, comics and action figures. When she was very little, one of my sons pointed to a Superman toy at the store and asked, ‘Who’s that?’. My daughter answered, ‘Daddy!’. Melted my heart. Flash forward a few years, my daughter is now 7 and she told me she has a new favorite super hero. She says Supergirl is her favorite because she’s Superman’s daughter. Again melted my heart. She wanted a Supergirl costume to wear to school on a regular day but did not like the pink version of the logo, so I had to buy a boys shirt and found a cape in the boys section of Target. One day, I hope that society will see the value in teaching our girls that they can like whatever they want without a gender bias and allow them the same access to nerdy things that boys have. I hope this little girl gets all the live and support she can. She’s pretty awesome.” – Gerry Elgart-Fail
“Ellie, you can like whatever you want. When I was your age, I wanted to fly like a bird, so I collected worms and fed them to the birds in my garden. There wasn’t Star Wars then. Enjoy your life.” – Pauline Burke
“Happy birthday” – Lora Rinehart
“I love Star Trek and I’m a science geek!!” – Paula Schmidt
“She sounds exactly like my 10 year old daughter. Happy Birthday!” – Kimberly Lynch
“BJJ is a great sport! I have met wonderful women who roll. There are also female only grappling camps – check it out!” – Cecily Cathryn
“YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!” – 100% Tomboy
“Happy Birthday Ellie!! I also have a love for BJJ, just keep training and being you. Those who except that, are those who deserve a place in your life.” – Dawn Kozikowski
“My daughter and I wore matching Avengers dresses for her 3rd birthday! She LOVES the Hulk! For Halloween, I’m dressing as C3po a ND my 3months old daughter will be r2d2! Like what YOU like!! Happy Birthday young lady!!!” – Misses Horv
“Happy birthday ellie you are amazing. Im a 41 year old sci-fi geek and have loved star wars since they 1st came out (i was 6) and both my girls 5 and 7 think they are awesome too. Keep being amazing x” – Dee-justin Robertson
“I used to be that girl. I turned 35 a couple of days ago and I’m writing my MA thesis on graphic novels.” – Katarina Hlaefdige
“Happy birthday Ellie! I am a self confessed geek and love star wars too! Don’t let anyone change who you are or what you like you will find friends who are just as geeky as you! Have a fab day! xx” – Emma Barrett
“Hi Ellie!!! I’m 23 and I was named after Star Wars AND Star Trek, I LOVE playing Minecraft and if you want to kick butt doing Jiu-Jitsu, then do it! I hope you have an action-packed fantastic day on your birthday, you deserve it!” – Leah Arthur
“THIS KID SOUNDS LIKE THE COOLEST KID EVER!” – Dagny Phillips-Stumberger
“Hey, Ellie, Happy Birthday from another non-traditional woman! When I was younger than you, I wanted an Erector set and TinkerToys because you can build stuff with them, and Barbies were boring. Later, I started reading science fiction and mysteries – love Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek! Today, I built a wall in my kitchen (and I did it all by myself, from design in Sketchup to pounding the nails with my hammer and palm nailer) as part of my remodeling project. I like video games, too, and I have more tools than most guys. I’m also working on my Bachelor’s degree in Education at the University of Washington (I’m 61, but that hasn’t stopped me yet). Anybody can be ordinary – be yourself, and be extraordinary!” – Karen Isaacson
“Dear Ellie, I’m a 70-year old grandmother. You remind me of my 2 daughters when they were your age. They are now, powerful, accomplished, ‘quiet’ professional women who lead satisfying lives today!
It can be lonely when you are not a jabber-jaw princess right now. But please keep in mind, while you’re not talking, you’re observing, reflecting, analyzing, storing wisdom that prepares you for greater things in life!
My late father told me many times when I was a little girl like you, ‘You’re given 2 ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk!’.
You know what, Ellie? He’s right!
Have a happy birthday and continue to be your own person, meaning, to be true to yourself, not to your peers, no matter how popular they appear to be!” – Rosa Fang
“Stay the way you are Ellie, don’t change for anyone. You are a Super Nova! Oh and have a very Happy Birthday!” – Helen Nolan
“Happy (big 10) birthday Ellie! I nanny a little girl (8 years old) who loves Star Wars (Darth Vader is her favorite) and Minecraft. I also have a niece who turns one this month. Her family (all of us) are raising her to grow up to make her own choices of what she likes, no matter what. It sounds like that’s what you’re learning. Hope you have a great new year (and start to a new, awesome decade!).” – Brooke Thomas
“Happy birthday, Ellie! I know so many beautiful women and girls who love all kinds of different things. Sometimes they’re things we both like, other times not, but I love having friends who like all different kinds of things. They make my world bigger and love (whatever it’s for) is one of the very best things to share and have in common. There are plenty of things I liked as a kid and I like now that aren’t stereotypically female. There are also things that are. You can be interested in whatever mix suits you. Stay big, Ellie – you don’t need to cut yourself down to fit, I know sometimes it’s hard to find your place, but the world is a very big place and there is room for you. The best people will love you for who you are and for giving them the space to be who they are too.” – Margaret Kilcullen
“Ellie, I’m a lot older now, but I loved Star Wars when it first came out! I was only 14, but it was great then and even better now. My daughter has always loved Star Wars too. She loves Star Wars, The Clone Wars which we can get on Netflix. Never be afraid to like cool things!” – Tamara Painter-Smith
“Just so you know, there are PLENTY of girls who LOVE Star Wars. And Lord of the Rings. And Harry Potter. And Doctor Who. And Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. DON’T WORRY.” – Jennifer Vosters
“I don’t have any pix but i was my dad’s partner in crime before my brother was born.. This means watching dad fix cars and going to car shows.. Other girls had the battery operated Barbie cars..i had a Big Foot monster truck!! It was fun (and lonely at times) but now that I’m older i wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for the world..!!! Ellie you are a total cutie and i wish you the best birthday ever!! Keep being yourself!! The world needs more girls like you!!” – Angie Chavez
“My 10 year old daughter Paige loves anything to do with comics. It’s something that she and her dad share together. She’s going as spider girl for Halloween this year. I also love BJJ and started when I was 35! People told me I couldn’t do it, but I’m sticking with it and have made some pretty cool friends.” – Colleen Aerts Gilson
“Cute Ellie: you just got a friend from Costa Rica. ¡Feliz cumpleaños! Y que la fuerza te acompañe. Siempre.” – Pablo Aguilar Soto
“Congrats Ellie! There are lots of girls & women who like science fiction, technology, science & math, who don’t go in for that pink junk and Barbie. While you may find yourself in the minority of girls now, you will find yourself among outstanding girls & women – better to have a few fabulous friends than a bunch of friends who do not accept you for who you are. Plus I think you probably have lots of friends who happen to be boys, just because they share your interests. Also just fine and likely to help you understand adult men better later on. I hope you embrace yourself as the fabulous young woman you are. There are plenty of sheep in this world; you don’t need to be one of them.” – Kelly Rosenleaf
“Yeah Ellie!! Star Wars is my life, in all true honesty. My dad raised me to love Sci-Fi and Fantasy films so you are not alone babe! I hope you have an incredible 10th birthday… You haven’t got many years left to begin training as a Jedi Knight so you better get on that ASAP!
As for the people who make you feel left out, well, I find their lack of faith disturbing…
Have an awesome birthday once again, and may the force be with you xxxx
PS – just bought pyjamas that say “Star Wars addict” on them” – Shayana Stéphanie
“Happy birthday! I love playing minecraft and Star Wars, and comic books!! My little 2 year old girl is totally into batman, and has decided that she will be batman for Halloween, so she’ll be batman and I’ll be joker, and my husband will be commissioner Gordon. Never be afraid to love what you love!!” – Rachel Pierce Skipper
“Happy Birthday, Ellie. My daughter, Riley, and I love Star Wars. I have loved Star Wars for almost 30 years now. Did you know that Princess Leia becomes a Jedi Knight? Yep. Riley is 8 years old and she is dressing up as Captain Phasma for Halloween. Her newborn twin sisters will be her storm troopers. We hope you have a special day, just like you. The Force is strong with you!” – Erin Kersh
“I’ve never been like my peers. (And I’m so out of the loop I can’t even post a photo!) Just know that you will find like-minded people as you travel through life – although perhaps they won’t always be where you expect to find them. And I’m not surprised that you are special – your mum seems pretty amazing, too. Well done, Sarah. Happy birthday, Ellie.” – Chris Rogan, Melbourne, Australia
“Happy Birthday Ellie! I am a fellow geek girl and I have to say being a geek is THE best! I LOVE science, nature, books, learning, and am BIG into DOCTOR WHO!! Never stop being unique and being yourself, its people like you that grow up to change the world!” – Claire Frances
“Hi Ellie and happiest of birthdays! My name is Jess and I’m 28. I LOVE Doctor Who, Batman, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. I’m a graphic designer, but would rather color all day! I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu 4 times a week (I’m a single stripe white belt right now), Muay Thai kickboxing once a week, and I lift weights. I’m lucky to be around all sorts of strong women all the time. You are welcome to come roll with us at IBJJA any time! We’d love to have you visit us. There is nothing wrong with you, my dear. In fact, you are far cooler than most other girls because you play by your own rules!” – Jessicah Powers
“Ellie – I am a Mama who loves Star Wars, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mine Craft. You keep on being awesome. Happy Birthday!” – Shanyn Silinski
“Happy Birthday, Ellie! My daughter (just turned 9) and I both LOVE minecraft. She constantly plays StarWars with her 11 year old brother. Her fav subject is science and we are currently learning the periodic table together. You don’t EVER have to apologise for liking the things you do – we both think it is awesome.” – Zoe Beringer
“Happy Birthday Ellie! Stay true to yourself always. Don’t let anyone ever bring you down. As you go through life you will meet more like-minded people for sure. When you are an adult you’ll be so happy you were a cool, intelligent young lady who followed her own path. It truly is worth it to be yourself.” – Robyn Paula
“You go, girl!” – Kaarlo Moran
Happy Birthday Ellie! (both my boys would love to hang out with you, you have a lot in common with them) – Pamela Broecking
“Happy Birthday, Ellie!” – Sue Clary
“My daughter will be 10 in Feb and she too loves minecraft and comic book heroes or other otherwise non-traditional girl stuff. Hope you have the best birthday!” – Jenny Campbell
“Happy Birthday Ellie!!! I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Minecraft, and all superheros! Have a wonderful birthday!!!” – Elsie M. Soto
“I’d love to know Ellie, and moreover, I know my ten-year old daughter Abby would, too. Abby’s downstairs building circuits at the moment, but I bet they’d be fast friends.” – Tina Marie Welch
“Always be yourself, I am 28 years old and still a big geek and I am just getting more geeky as I grow hahaha!!! Better to have a personality and a brain then friends who don’t even care about you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GIRL YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!” – Lindsay Reid
“I’ve spent all my life being different like what you want be passionate about it and Keep going as you are, when you grow older that difference will be what makes you stand out against all the other grown ups who will realise they too want to be original but they won’t know how. But you do!” – Elizabeth Nast
“Happy Birthday from a fellow girl star wars fan.I love Leia and the Skywalker family. I wish you the best.” – Laura Gray
“Hi Ellie – the first movie I ever saw in the theatre was Star Wars. I’ve been a big fan ever since.
I am an introvert and was not popular in school. But I think that means I knew myself better than the cool kids and didn’t make the same bad choices a lot of them did to fit in.
As an adult I got to work on the Space Shuttle, Space Station and a lot of cool other projects.
I didn’t (and don’t) have a lot of close friends but I have a few the best kind of friends possible. You will too.” – Kathryn Ray
“Ellie, keep being you, because you are fabulous! Oh…have an awesome birthday and may the force be with you!!!!” – Keta Caballero
“Ellie, my daughter has many things in common with you. She has a name starting with E, she has a red belt in taekwondo, and she enjoys Minecraft and Star Wars. We both wish you an awesome birthday.” – Gabrielle Tenn New
“I was never girly either love, and I’m now so happy for that. And my son Zaki would love to come to your birthday party, he loves Star Wars. And pink. And purple. And lots of things. Because he’s an interesting human. Like you xxx” – Dana Rodericks
“Ellie- welcome to the cool women club. I love all these things and you will meet tons of fun, interesting and successful people in your life both men and women who have a variety of interests. One day very soon you’ll see the things that are ‘different’ about you today will be what makes you incredibly special, unique and a part of a tribe that loves you for you. Embrace your inner Wonder Woman. Xo Shelley PS – And you might need to come join us in San Diego for ComicCon this year!” – Shelley Callahan
“Yep, I loved Star Wars, BBC’s Tomorrows World, playing with toy cars and dirt! Read encyclopedia and enjoyed watching OU Maths programmes when I was off from school ill. Always wore trousers and skirts/dresses together…. still do now! No such thing as normal; life is diverse xxx” – Janet Ayers
“My daughter is 12. Likes Minecraft and is getting into Assassins Creed. She likes new Star Wars, Farscape, and Firefly. Loves Lego especially the architecture sets and will be taking technical graphics in school. She’s a 1st Dan black belt in Taekwondo.” – Tamzen Malone
“Happy birthday! Sounds like you have a great party planned! I’m not a sci/fi fan, but I love grrls and women who know what they like and go for it! You do what brings you the most joy, and don’t try to be anything you aren’t! Sounds like your family is a great advocate so kudos to them too!” – Susan Murray Wolfe
“Happy birthday Ellie! My daughter Emma loves Minecraft and skateboarding. Love what you love and be who you are – you’ll find your village and you won’t believe how great it will be!” – Amy Williams Opheim
“I’m 60 yrs. bold and had/have similar difficulties. I always preferred fantasy and sci-first over romance, dolls, etc. I have always been a Star Wars fan! I even read the book before the movie was made – the movies are better! Try not to worry Ellie, be who you are, enjoy what you enjoy. It’s more important to be you than to attempt to “fit-in” for the friends you get that way can’t be real if you are not.” – Maui Honi
“You sound like a wonderful kid. Happy Birthday.” – Valerie Huels
“Don’t know her, but I like her!!!” – Judith Bruno
“Ellie, you ROCK.” – Susan Lassiter-Lyons
“Ellie, you are awesome! You sound like a really interesting person. I am 66, and remember sneaking all my brother’s sci-fi books. Other girls thought Liking sci-fi was a bit strange. Who cares? I love Star Wars, and would probably like MineCraft. You just keep on being you.” – Linda Jean McCrea
“Hey, Ellie! I worked on Episode One AND served in the Marine Corps. I love books and video games and quiet time. There absolutely IS a community of welcoming fans and geeks out here waiting for you. Keep being awesome!” – Katrina Stovold
And we saved the very best for last…
“Happy birthday, my darling Ellie! You amaze me with your kind heart. You astound me with your bravery when it comes to standing up for your brother, Evan. You are fiercely loyal and I admire that so much about you! You may not fully understand this whenever I tell you this, but you are truly braver and far more sure of yourself that I ever was as a child, or as a teen and as a large portion of adulthood too. You are uniquely you and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Never stop being you… for anyone. You are who you are for a reason. Hold your head up high and keep being You! I love you with all of my heart and soul!! I am so lucky to get to be your (and Evan’s) mom!!”