(R)Evolution of a Nerd Girl
by Nicole Perez (@PrettyNGeek)
Nerd girls have become somewhat of a hot commodity these days – or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
As a kid of the eighties, my nerd girl role models were Patty Greene (Sarah Jessica Parker) from Square Pegs and Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) from Growing Pains. While I learned the value of intellect and sharp wit versus getting by on life purely by popularity and good looks, I had no interest in being labeled as a nerd.
Back then, the term “nerd” had somewhat of a negative connotation. To be called a nerd was to be labeled as someone who is awkward, unattractive, easily pushed around, yet incredibly smart; I know this to be true because I was once the perfect embodiment of this description. As difficult as it was to grow up feeling like a thorn among roses, I always knew that one day the geeks would inherit the earth – and I was right.
In my humble, geeky opinion I believe the nerd girl revolution started with Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This girl loved books and adventure more than anything else in life. Finally someone I could relate to! To this day, I’m convinced the true message of that story is to follow your heart and do what’s right because one day you, too, could marry someone with an awesome library! Sure, she had to fall in love with a beast that took her captive, but whatever, it all worked out and he turned out kind of hot.
Six years after Belle hit the scene, the spark that would ignite the nerd girl wildfire came in the form of a young heroine named Hermione Granger. J.K. Rowling did what few, if any, have been able to accomplish up to this point: accurately show the true beauty and evolution of a nerd girl. Hermione was first described as being a bushy-haired know-it-all. She wasn’t exactly an outcast, but she also wasn’t very popular amongst her peers because her love for knowledge and always doing right superceded any need for acceptance.
Over the course of seven books, we see Hermione evolve from a precocious little girl into someone with the goods to help defeat a dark wizard AND catch a man (or two). I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like Rowling broke down some serious nerd girl stereotypes.
Although Hermione could fairly be described as a nerd, she was anything but a socially awkward recluse as nerds are sometimes made out to be. She is a perfect fictional example of what it means to be a non-fiction nerd girl: brave, smart, beautiful inside and out, and remaining true to who you are no matter the cost.
Since then, it has become a badge of honor more than a scarlet letter to be called a nerd girl. Television shows, magazines, movies, social networks – these media outlets are saturated with praise of us nerdy types.
Don’t believe me? Watch New Girl, read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, watch The Big Bang Theory and take time to examine the character development of Bernadette, Penny, and Amy Farrah Fowler (if you dare).
These women – real and imagined – show us being called a nerd now means to be labeled as strong, beautiful, smart, funny, and passionate human beings. Sure, our passion may come in the form of screaming loudly in public when we see Benedict Cumberbatch in the new Star Trek trailer, but nonetheless, it’s still passion.
So crack open the books, host a Doctor Who marathon, skip like a hobbit, groan about how Stephen Moffat and Joss Whedon are ruining our lives – just do whatever makes you nerdy you because, no matter what, they can’t take the sky from us.