Found another unicorn! We continue our mission of debunking the fake geek girl stereotype by introducing Leandra Jacoby (33), an amazing hair stylist, mom and geek! Ever since she was a little girl, Leandra has been interested in geeky and quirky things. She explained: "Because I was the oldest of four kids, I was often left to my own devices so I watched a lot of TV. I always enjoyed things that are really funny and smart. Witty humor" Her favorite shows included Alf, MacGyver, Punky Brewster, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Thundercats. She said: "When I was little, my mom didn't allow me to watch The Simpsons but she would let me watch The Kids in the Hall on Comedy Central. A lot of the things I find hilarious were totally influenced by that show too."
Leandra is also a self-proclaimed horror geek. She absolutely loves monster movies and anything related to zombies: "I will go see most horror movies no matter what. I don't care if they are good or bad, I’ll see them anyway. I like the thrill and the artistic expression of the monsters. I love how the mood can be set in a horror movie by just using light and color. They can paint a story even before you get to hear something." But even though she is obsessed with horror movies, there's one specific type that she doesn't enjoy. She jokingly said: "Paranormal movies scare me, they make me feel unsure about what’s crawling on my ceiling at night. I’m not scared of what’s underneath my bed, but I’m scared of what’s crawling on my ceiling when I’m not paying attention".
Leandra also really enjoys anything related to superheroes, her favorite being The Hulk. And like she said: "...not just because Mark Ruffalo is a total fox". The reason why she loves The Hulk's as a character is because she identifies with the struggle between being vulnerable and tough at the same time. She explained: "When you’re guarded, sometimes you don’t realize that you’re acting that way and start creating your own green monster. I like being able to embrace both sides of my personality and having them be compatible within me. The Hulk says: "I'm always angry" and I love that because for me it means that you can’t control the green monster inside of you until you accept it." In fact, Leandra loves The Hulk so much that when she played roller derby under the name DollFace Nutcase, her tagline was: “You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, Dollface smash!”.
For Leandra, being a geek means being passionate and excited about something no matter what it is: "If I'm geeking out about a piece of cake, it means that I really love that piece of cake. You can tell when somebody is a geek just by talking to them. Being a geek doesn't have a genre. You are a geek if something makes you want to high five people and scream HELL YEAH!". She appreciates how supportive the geek community is and how the people in it respect each other no matter how weird or out of the box their interests are. When she was younger, Leandra mentioned that she experience bullying for being different, which is why finding a community that celebrates differences is very important to her: "When I was in high school I remember being picked on because I had this awesome astroturf green Pumas that made me feel like a badass. I would hear people talk about them and make fun of them. I hate the fact that it made me doubt what I liked. Nowadays, I am more confident in liking what I like and not apologizing for it. I would totally wear those shoes today."
As an adult, Leandra mentioned some of the challenges she encounters when openly admitting she is a geek. As a single woman, she often has to deal with the fact that men consider her "one of the guys" and sometimes fail to acknowledge her feminine side: "A lot of times I meet someone that I think is cool and I‘m placed in the friend zone very quickly because of my interests." She explained that this is a form of sexism: "It's sexist to assume that I am less feminine because I like comic books, zombies or things that are considered to be boy stuff. As soon as we tell someone what they are allowed to like based on their gender, that's sexism. I'm still feminine even if I like those things."
When I met Leandra, I immediately knew I would become friends with this fellow lady geek and not only because she is responsible for giving me the best haircut I've ever had. She is indeed extremely talented. Before being a hairstylist, Leandra was actually a nurse's assistant. After spending some time in that profession, she realized that she wanted to follow her real passion. That's when she decided to pursue cosmetology: "I always liked doing my hair and giving people advice on how to do their hair. Now that I'm a hairstylist, I absolutely love being able to make something new every day and make people feel amazing."
Leandra is an amazing woman, geek, artist, and proud mom of a little boy and girl. She allows her kids to be who they want to be and is the best example not only to them but to everyone that as long as you are yourself, you will be happy. Like she said: "I want my kids to like what they like and be as weird as they want to be. I want them to be comfortable with who they are." Wise words. Leandra is definitely not an unicorn, she exists and she is extraordinary.