REDBAND: Then & Now…Growing Up Nerdy by Heather Helton

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When did it become “cool” to be a nerd?

You mean to tell me all those years I was bullied as a kid were completely pointless? Does that mean I’m some sort of a nerd hipster now? Because, after all, I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool. Nerds everywhere are desperately trying to protect the boundaries of their sacred universe as if it were some exclusive club reserved for the elite. Well, guess what? You’ve officially become the breed of asshole that tormented you in grade school! So why are nerds so “butthurt” about this trend?

Well, I have several conjectures. I think the biggest frustration is with “faux” nerd girls (I feel the term “idiot nerd girl” is a bit harsh). These are the pretty girls who throw on a pair of glasses and exclaim, “Omgah, I’m sooo nerdy!” I can understand why this would piss nerds off. It’s debasing to nerd culture. To them, not just anyone can be a nerd; you must earn nerd cred. Think of it this way: You won’t be accepted as a jock without proving your athletic prowess, right? Well, you won’t be accepted as a nerd without proving your intellectual prowess. Nerds assume that pretty girls can’t deliver in this department. Why so judgmental, I’m not really sure…

I would guess intimidation plays a role. When you’re part of a culture that has been male-dominated for so long with a strong sense of brotherhood, it’s hard to adapt to the induction of females — especially when your group is notorious for being awkward around them. Introduce an attractive woman to the group and it’s even more difficult to accept her without argument. I suppose we’ve all been conditioned to assume that attractive people just aren’t as intelligent. I throw bitch fits all the time about how I get paid twice as much for my looks than my brain. It’s rather insulting and I’m sure I’m not the only girl out there who feels this way. As an audio-visual technician at an educational institution, I’m often mistaken for a student rather than an employee. Others seem baffled that an attractive female is capable of operating and troubleshooting sophisticated video conferencing equipment.

Even while interviewing for a position, someone had the audacity to say, “You wouldn’t like it here, anyway; it’s all middle-aged males.” Who are you to tell me what type of environment I would or would not be capable of working in? It’s unnerving to be repeatedly turned down for jobs simply because my age and gender isn’t in line with the preconceived mental image of a qualified candidate. Oh, and as if nerdy gals didn’t have a hard enough time in the workplace, we find ourselves fighting a social battle as well:

  • Why can’t I host a Reddit meetup? Do I need to check with the meetup Gods to have permissions bestowed upon me?
  • Why can’t I wear my glasses without being called a poser? They’re prescription…Get over it!
  • Why do you look at me like that when I tell stories about chess tournaments, astronomy club, AND cheerleading? Would you pass out if I told you I carry a tool bag at work? Give me a break!

How are truly nerdy girls supposed to distinguish themselves from the faux nerd girls, when nerds are already in attack mode? Why are they so defensive? I know they’ve been through a lot, but hey, we all have! We live in a society where individualism is emphasized. Everyone wants to be a special snowflake. If everyone suddenly jumps on the nerd ship, being a nerd won’t be some sexy secret society anymore. I get it, you want to preserve the integrity of your group, but you ought to give people the opportunity to prove themselves. You may find that they surprise you and fit right in!

If not, don’t fret; popular culture cycles and recycles. As quickly as the siege seemed to appear, it will subside and all will be well in the universe again. I’ll still be here, though. So save a spot for me!

Heather H.


Heather is an experienced Marketing and Communications professional with expertise in Video Production, Videoconferencing, Tech Support, Customer Service and Social Media. She spends ample time  watching the alien life forms taunting her from the other side of the glass ceiling…with a brick in her hand.  Connect with her on Linkedin: and Follow her on Twitter: @heathereleanora


  1. Terry Coffey says:

    Thanks for the post! As daddy to an almost five-year-old my message to “good old boys”–whatever form they may take–is to get over it or get out of the way. As a sort of nerd hybrid in many ways, I want her to be accepted for who she is and not dissed because of her looks (beautiful like her mommy) or her likes (weird and eclectic like her daddy).

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