The 2019 Toy Show has been and gone and one of the most heartwarming stories this year involved young Sophia Maher facing down her bullies live on air.
The youngster appeared on Friday's show and told Ryan Tubridy that she is often slagged about hairstyle, kicked and called a "weirdo". Sophia captured many a heart when she looked down the camera and asked "who's the weirdo now?" and the important message has led to calls for an appearance on The Ellen Show across the pond.
Speaking to 98FM's Dublin Talks this morning, Sophia's mother Robin Maher told Adrian Kennedy about the difficulties her daughter faces every day. Addressing those who don't agree with Sophia's preference for shorter hair, she said "people say their child wants to be a mermaid but this is completely different. I just had to go with it."
Robin explained that she noticed that Sophia had been acting differently in May of this year, so she asked one of her aunts to speak to her. The aunt told Robin that she better go and talk to her daughter so she went upstairs and that's when Sophia told her that she wanted to be a boy. Robin said that she told Sophia "let's think about this," and was worried how people would react to her daughter having shorter hair.
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Robin went on to say that "Sophia always wanted to wear boys' clothes. When I had her brother Jacob, she wanted clothes like him. I thought that was okay and I didn't mind."
"It was a bit of a shock but because she was always a tomboy, and liked football and didn't like girly things so it wasn't too much of a shock. I warned her that people can be cruel and she just said: "I will just laugh and say can I get on with my day now?"
"She has my support and all our family's support. That's all that matters." Addressing one cruel comment, Robin revealed that someone had said "I can't look at "it, " when referring to Sophia. "That's a horrible thing to say to a child. She would always have a good comeback but when she comes home, she breaks down in front of us. It's hard for her.
Robin's partner Luke added that "initially it was a shock but myself and Robin sat down and talked. We just had to go with it, we couldn't say no, that would just make things worse."
When asked about how Sophia ended up speaking about bullying on the Toy Show, Robin said that "she was supposed to talk about Pikachu and Pokemon but she had to do an interview beforehand and the people noticed how passionate she was about being different."
Sophia hadn't told her parents what she was going to say, as Robin explained: "We were all at home crying and then we were laughing when she came back out and said "who's the weirdo now?" We weren't expecting it but that's the type of person she is. You don't know what she is going to say next."
"I'm just so proud of her and so overwhelmed by the love and support we've received. Someone texted me saying their daughter wants a haircut like Sophia and another boy who was bullied for being in drama class said Sophia's words have helped him."
Robin said that Sophia was delighted with her Toy Show experience and she "can't take the smile off her face." Luke added that "she seems happy, and it's made a big difference to her confidence and self-esteem.
Robin concluded by saying that "she's my daughter and whatever she wants I will support her. The world is cruel enough, imagine not having your mother's support."
Indeed. Sophia was one of the stars of this year's Toy Show and there's bound to be plenty of kids going out and getting one particular haircut this week. Keep doing you, little one.