A 10-year-old boy who was bullied for his “Iron Man” costume is going viral for his superhero courage.
Jill Struckman dressed her son Evan as Tony Stark last week for a Halloween party at Evan’s school in Missouri. Proud of her work she took photos of Evan and shared them on Facebook for his family and friends to see.
The pictures show the fifth-grader looking dashing in oversized sunglasses, pinstriped vest, and even goatee.
“Evan loves getting dressed up — and he was especially excited that day,” Jill said. “It was hard to get his makeup on straight because he was smiling so much.”
Evan looked awesome in his Halloween costume and pulled off the character’s style perfectly. He was so excited to be Tony Stark, he ran to the school bus. However, the boy’s excitement soon turned into embarrassment when he stepped onto the bus and was told by his classmates that “he looked stupid.”
“20 minutes after he got on the bus, I got a phone call from school letting me know he was in the office and some kids had said mean things to him,” Jill recalled. “He wanted to be picked up and he was really, really upset.”
Evan was so hurt by the other kids’ comments that he went straight to the bathroom after getting off the bus to wash off all his makeup. He also didn’t want to stay for the Halloween party he was once looking forward to.
Jill said that it was the first occasion she had heard her youngest become so hurt by something someone said.
“He’s the kid who will go to picture day in a tuxedo or business suit, and usually lets things roll right off his shoulders,” she said.
Jill picked up her son from school and was greeted by a teary-eyed Evan. She posted a photo of the boy looking sad on Facebook, in an effort to raise awareness about bullying.
“Here’s what my little Tony Stark looks like now,” she wrote. “We both have swollen eyes from crying and are on our way to try to find ice cream. Kids need to understand that WORDS hurt.”
The mother-and son went to Starbucks to discuss what happened and how Evan felt.
Jill said that Evan knew he looked great but let the opinions of other children get to him. He was reassured and she told him that he looked amazing. Then, she asked him if he wanted back to make sure he didn’t miss the party. The lad replied yes.
Evan was back to himself in an hour as Jill did his makeup.
“He was a little scared, but as soon as we walked in the office door, all the ladies, who hadn’t seen his makeup, said he was so cute,” Jill said. “He got a lot of positive attention right away… and by the time he got off the bus later that day, he was just happy as could be.”
The mom noticed that Evan’s bullies had apologised to him and were being dealt with by the school.
Jill thought back to the experience and said that Evan’s return to school and his determination to keep his head up despite all the hurtful words he received was something she will never forget.
“Evan even learned from this. He’s never gonna be that kid who hurts someone else’s feelings,” she said. “He’s normally not affected by what other people think and say… so the fact that it bothered him so badly just broke our hearts.”
Jill’s post went viral, but she didn’t expect it would be received that way. She apologized to Evan for sharing such a personal moment, but the kid told her it was okay that she shared it because it “shows people what it looks like whenever you get bullied.”
The mother of four hopes that other parents and children can learn from Evan’s story.
“Words are important. I almost didn’t write ‘bullying’ in the post because he wasn’t physically hurt, but it does hurt. Words hurt, they matter,” Jill said. “If you see it happening, stand up for the kid who’s getting teased.”
Some people have offered to donate money, but Jill told them that Evan doesn’t really need it. She encouraged them to donate money to charity or do good deeds instead.
If you want to give Evan a card, you can send it to: “Jill Struckman, PO Box 362, Cottleville, MO, 63338”.
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