An eight-year-old girl who recently discovered Star Wars through her father’s old toys found herself the target of bullying at school, but with a little help from the 501st legion and Star Wars fan Weird Al, she managed to strike back at her bullies, and is now back to her old self.
Layla Murphy hails from Norfolk, Virginia, according to CNN, and like many kids her age, she was recently exposed to the universe of Star Wars, falling in love with a galaxy far, far away. After moving to a new school, however, Layla’s mother, Nicolette Molina, noticed that her daughter wasn’t acting like herself, seemingly shunning her Star Wars fandom.
— ComicBookMovie.com (@ComicBook_Movie) August 22, 2015
“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,” she noted.
It didn’t take long before Layla’s mother found out that her daughter was the target of bullies at school, as other girls told her that Star Wars was only “for boys.” While Layla even began to ask her mother if she was “turning into a boy,” a chance encounter with a member of Star Wars fandom’s premier community, the 501st Legion, turned the tide in Layla’s favor.
— The Ashland Gazette (@AshlandGazette) August 22, 2015
Star Wars fan Jason Tuttle, a member of the Legion, took a few photos with Layla at a convention, and when her mother posted them on his Facebook page, he encouraged her fandom, sending along a number of Star Wars-related gifts. When the Legion learned of her bullying problems, the good will turned into a flood, as the community came together in an outpouring of support for Layla.
— Central Garrison (@CentralGarrison) August 22, 2015
As the Mary Sue points out, the experience culminated when Layla was gifted a special set of stormtrooper armor, previously worn by Katie Goldman, another young fan who had been bullied for her love of Star Wars. Once she received the armor, Layla even found herself a guest at a Weird Al concert, where other members of the 501st Legion were performing, getting a chance to meet the musician (and fellow Star Wars fanatic) himself.
The sum total of the experience has brought Layla back to herself, and the 501st notes that she “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.” A Star Wars fan to her core, Layla also enjoys surprising people who assume that there is a boy behind her unique stormtrooper mask.