Geek Girls are Real: Chelsea Eales
Found another unicorn! This week we continue our mission of debunking the fake geek girl stereotype by introducing Chelsea Eales! A graphic designer who considers herself "a big old nerd" Chelsea was first introduced to geek culture when she was 9 years old and joined the Odyssey of the Mind, an educational program in which kids compete by solving problems using their creative and logical skills. Shortly after that, the Harry Potter books were a phenomenon and she became obsessed with them. But throughout her life, Chelsea's geek interests have varied depending on what she was going through at specific times: "As I've gone through my life different things have resonated with me. When I was 16, anime was big in my life. When I was in college I got really into Buffy and nowadays I am REALLY into Hannibal and Game of Thrones." Chelsea confessed that she has a dark sense of humor which is why she gravitates towards shows and movies that are "a little bit twisted". She explained: “I think that horror and psychological thrillers are a great way for society to explore taboos. Like for example, Buffy was an allegory about how high school was literally hell and when you are in high school it does feel like hell sometimes, like you are going against giant scary monsters every day. That type of dark humor allows us to conquer controversial subjects in new and interesting ways."
For Chelsea, being a geek can be defined with one word: passion. She believes a geek is someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about something, it can be anything: "When someone is willing to show their passion and enthusiasm about something, it’s unusual, it’s exciting, it’s interesting." Chelsea admitted that she has struggled in the past with calling herself a geek: "I almost had trouble claiming that title. I felt that the things I liked, objectively, were clearly geeky but for some reason I felt outside of that because I didn't feel like I was the "stereotype". People always referred to me as the “artsy” type but once they got to know me they’re like “Oh, you’re a huge geek” Chelsea is artsy indeed, a creative geek. When she was in middle school, she was given a project where she needed to alter a photo of herself by using Photoshop. She loved it so much that she took a photography class in high school and continued learning how to use photo editing programs. When she realized this was something that she could turn into a career, she decided to become a graphic designer: "I would find myself having fun creating websites and not sure what to put in them afterwards. For a while I thought it was a deficit of character but then I realized that it was something I could do and get paid for."
Chelsea's previous hesitation to call herself a geek originated from early negative experiences with geek culture. When she was 16 years old, she dated a huge anime fan who introduced her to anime culture. Unfortunately, her experience wasn't the most welcoming: "One of his friends took it upon himself to let me know that I was just being a sycophant and that I wasn't really into Anime. According to him, I was there just because I wanted them to like me. He posted on his live journal that I made him irrationally angry just because I was apparently pretending to like Anime. It was terrifying for me and it made me question myself." Due to this negative experience, Chelsea became reserved regarding her interests in geek culture: "It’s kind of hard to get over that immediate rejection from the culture. But I have since found many people that have welcomed me with open arms and it turns out that I do really like Anime so that guy can suck it." She mentioned that certain geek communities still have room for improvement regarding the acceptance of women like the gaming community and STEM: "Girls are hesitant to join STEM because of the inevitable sexual harassment they are going to get. This is a college degree, this is jobs, it is affecting their lives in a major way and it is extremely problematic."
Nowadays Chelsea is proud to call herself a geek and embraces it. She is a fan of Batman and it is not afraid to show it. She has worn her Batman costume to the movies and even has a life-size cutout of Christian Bale's Batman in her cubicle at work. When she moved to Lafayette after finishing college it was difficult for her to find friends that shared her interests, that’s why she joined Ladies Geeking Out (LGO). After joining the group, Chelsea admits that her perspective on geek culture has definitely improved: "The main takeaway from the group is how such disparate people can come together over geeky topics. It's one of the most accepting groups that I've come across in real life, and I think for a woman that is very important since there’s a push in society to make women compete." The group has also improved her perspective on female friendships. She mentioned that when she was in high school she got along with guys more than girls, but as the years passed she has befriended great women: "I got over that high school mentality."
Chelsea has also embraced aspects of femininity that she looked down on when she was younger, including makeup: "It is color theory, it is painting, it’s aesthetics but there’s so much baggage surrounding it that I just never wanted to be involved with it. But now that I have opened that door I am getting pretty good at it and I really enjoy it." In our society, there are still people that criticize women who wear makeup and are also feminists. There’s also a misconception that women wear makeup because they are insecure with their appearance. Chelsea explained that for her embracing femininity is empowering and that she doesn't wear make up for others, she wears it because she enjoys it: "The fact that I own blue lipstick is evidence that I wear make up for me. I do it for fun. I don’t wake up an hour early to put on make up for work but if I’m at home with some time to kill, I'll try to learn how to put on false eyelashes. I wear glasses so 90% of the makeup I wear nobody else sees but me. When I have done my makeup and I feel good about it, it changes the way I carry myself. I am more confident and outgoing; it has a lot of positive effects on the way that I behave." Chelsea brings her geeky side to her make up too. She has a Nicholas Cage-themed lip gloss, a Benedict Cumberbatch cheekbone contour powder, a Hulk redness reducing powder, and an Emperor's New Groove eye shadow,among other amazing products. Chelsea also shared that she believes there's a double standard when it comes to makeup and that men should also be allowed to have fun with it without any of the stigmas society has on the subject: "I see women walking around without make up and no one is pointing at them or making fun of them, but if a man wears make up he will be criticized or even in danger in some parts of this country. It is a shame that they are not allowed to experience it."
Chelsea is a smart and creative woman that proves that you don't have to fit a specific mold in order to call yourself a geek: "I feel that society has a very preconceived notion of what a geek is and there's a lot of people that think they are not geeky enough because of that. If you think you are not geeky enough, you are definitely a geek. If you’re having that fight in your head, you belong with us. Anybody that obsessively collects data about sports is a geek. I think the word geek encompasses a lot more than what people give it credit for." She is also proof that you can be feminine and still support equal rights between genders. She understands that is not about one gender being better than the other, it is all about choosing what you want to do and being whoever you want to be. Femininity should be embraced instead of being seen as a weakness: “In our society, we have to be beautiful but we are not allowed to do anything to make ourselves that way. You have to be a woman but not so much that it is thrown at people's faces. It is frustrating, it is a tight rope. But I decided that I don’t have to pick. I am all of those women any given day. I like to jump on that tight rope, be on both sides of it, even trip on it. There are some days that I want to go to Taco Bell in my sweat pants and greasy hair and that is fine. There are other days that I spend three hours getting ready and looking amazing and that’s fine too. That’s the whole point. I get to choose what I want to be." Wise words to live by. Chelsea is definitely not a unicorn, she exists, and she is SUPER awesome.