7-year-old ‘Stranger Things’ fan, mother showered with support by Filipino netizens
A day before her first comic convention, seven-year-old Sophie decided she wanted to shave her head to look like 12-year old actress Millie Bobby Brown, who played the iconic character “Eleven” in the hit series “Stranger Things.”
“Help,” Sophie’s mother, Czyka Tumaliuan, posted on Facebook as she narrated her child’s wish.
Czyka, who has been posting about her “do-it-yourself parenting” insights through the Facebook Page “Freestyle Mommy,” said she tried talking Sophie out of it but eventually felt it was not such a big deal.
“As a fan of the series, and a frustrated superhero, it was totally cool with me,” she posted on her page after attending the Asia Pop Comicon held in Manila.
“Eleven” is a lead female character in the web television series “Stranger Things,” which has received critical acclaim and a cult following. The mother and daughter, who were both fans of science fiction shows, received tickets to the Asia Pop Comicon as a gift and were able to attend the event last Saturday.
It was at the event that Sophie met her idol, Millie. But in the lengthy post, Czyka revealed how her child’s decision and her support was “met with defiance and outrage.”
Czyka, in an online interview with INQUIRER.net, revealed that it was Sophie’s grandmother who opposed the plan. The trouble escalated to the point that they were told to move out of her parents’ house “so (they) can do things (their) way.”
“It crushes me because the world sees us as heroes, but my family doesn’t,” she said.
Czyka’s Facebook post, which narrated her initially heartbreaking experience that ended in overwhelming support from the online community, has since become viral, receiving more than 8,000 likes and 2,000 shares.
“I’m not surprised. People expect girls like Sophie to have long, silky hair and wear rhinestone-laden dresses. People expect little girls to look like a Walt Disney princess. But my Sophie isn’t a princess. She’s a warrior. A super,” she said in her post.
Czyka recounted how the “opposition” left her in tears and how Sophie assured her by saying, “Stop thinking about what other people will think about me. Just think that I have superpowers.”
The rest of the young mother’s post focused on the need for parents to “build a safe space” for their children and to allow them to “be whoever they want to be without being shamed and tagged as a freak.”
“As parents, we must be their refuge. As parents, we must be our children’s sanctuary,” she said. “The world needs more dreamers, more supers, more warriors. We must let our kids do things out of love, fun and faith, not fear.
In response, hundreds of netizens posted hearts and told her how they love what her daughter did.
“She is awesome for her choice and you are awesome for letting her be a kid and enjoy the fantasy that childhood brings!” said one user.
“Hey, you’re cool, I totally agree with you! I’m a mother myself and I would want my daughters to have fun, be happy and enjoy life as much as they can, no matter what others would think of me. I love them and nothing in this world could ever change that,” another said.
Despite her problems at home, Czyka said she finds happiness in her daughter and the strangers who supported her.
“You have no idea how happy she (Sophie) was. She immediately did her ‘Eleven move’ where she stares at you, raises her right hand and swiftly tilts her head to the right,” she told INQUIRER.net, recalling the scene after Sophie had her hair cut. “It’s hilarious!”
At the event, Sophie met fellow fans in “Eleven” costume.
The highlight of the day was when Millie, the actress who plays Eleven, saw Sophie and had a picture with her. Millie even posted her photo with Sophie on Instagram with the caption, “Thank you so much Manila; I’ve had such a fantastic time!”
“You’re awesome too, Millie! Thank you for making my daughter’s childhood even more wonderful!” Czyka said in reply to Millie’s Instagram photo with Sophie.
Asked if it was all worth it, Czyka said,“What was worth it? The haircut? Even if we didn’t meet Millie, it was already worth it. Maybe for my daughter, it was about meeting Millie…For me, it’s about my daughter expressing herself. It’s about participating in a community who wants to play the role of their favorite characters for a day.”
“The series of surprises and rejections that led to Sophie meeting Millie was more thrilling than meeting Millie,” she admitted, adding that she loved how strangers at the event helped bring Sophie to the actress.
Her message to the people who judged and disagreed with her and her daughter? “Come as you are.”
“We live in a place where fabricated charm is valued more than authenticity, and people like me, who goes against this mentality are seen as weirdos, misfits, ‘know-it-alls’. I get it. People naturally fear what they don’t understand,” she said. “My mind is in a haze right now. Whatever the real reasons are (for people to oppose us), I just want to do anything in my capacity to let Sophie grow up happy and free from this distorted ideas of beauty and love.”
Czyka said she decided to make their experience public because she was “tired” of “better” mothers imposing their standards on her.
“Motherhood is inherently difficult, why do we have to make it even more stressing with all these unnecessary, superficial social codes that are all BS? Are we actually making our kids happy by doing this? Do these things deepen the mother-and-daughter bond or just destroys it?” she said. “Sharing my journey allows other people to help me out.”
As for the people who supported them, Czyka said their messages have left her crying at night.
She said women who cut their own sent her personal messages of support.
“Hearing strangers share the same agony, showing their angst and how they’re pissed in this kind of culture is a revelation. I’ve been crying for three nights straight reading other people’s experiences that resonate what I feel inside. I am ordinary yet my emotions are deeply universal,” Czyka said. “Sophie and I are like these thousands of strangers…It’s empowering.” TVJ
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