Despite the image prevalent in our pop culture that depicts genre fans as guys in their 30s who live in their parents’ basements, many of us know the truth: Fandom was originally the domain of women. And for many of us, it still is.
I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was ten, reading about the group of women who started the Star Trek Welcommittee and the very first convention. As an adult, I’ve been known to fork over a dollar or two for some fun Star Trek merch. But there are compelling reasons (even aside from the aesthetics) that I can’t walk around town in a Star Trek jacket sporting a Star Trek backpack, the biggest of which is that I’m a grown-up woman with a career and a professional reputation to worry about. And yet, I’m also still that kid, that fan who feels an ideological connection to the world of Star Trek and wants to carry it with me when I go out into the cold, harsh, and far too realistic world.
Do my accessories scream I’M A STAR TREK FAN, scaring off those who might want to work with an adult instead of a child? No. But am I still representing, and being that nerdy happy fan no matter where I am? Why yes, yes I am.
I call it Stealth Trek. If you’re a Marvel person, or you love Star Wars, or you’re obsessed with Disney or Outlander or Harry Potter, then here are some options for you to hold tight to your fandom without scaring off the regular folk.
Star Trek, which got a whole product line from Mac when it turned 50, isn’t the only franchise with a line of cosmetics. Marvel has one. Harry Potter, Star Wars, and even The Hunger Games have had them. At this very moment, I’m wearing Star Trek nail polish, and I get compliments on it all the time from people who have no idea that the color I’m wearing is called Holla Deck.
No, I don’t mean underwear; even to me, Star Trek underwear and sexy don’t quite go together. But a wristwatch, under a long-sleeved shirt? High-top sneakers with Star Trek deltas covered by my pant legs? Yes! Unless I roll up the cuffs because I’m heading to Comic Con, I’m the only one who knows what’s lurking underneath.
Surprisingly, most people never notice this, unless I’m taking a lot of pictures. Nerd story: I was once working with Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame and offered to take some photos of him with fans we’d just done a shoot with. I whipped out my phone, forgetting all about the case. He looked up and laughed. “You’re incorrigible,” he said, to my delight and embarrassment. He’s still the only one who’s ever spotted it.
I have a t-shirt that says THE DAYSTROM INSTITUTE on it, which seems completely innocent to the average person. But any Star Trek fan (particularly those who watched the original series and anyone currently watching Star Trek: Picard) knows that it’s a fictional place where scientists of the future go to study advanced robotics. If anyone knows what it’s from, they’re a fan, which means we’re already on the same page.
In a nutshell, there are three basic options: Be non-specific (like my nail polish); wear secret layers; or go for the deep cuts only another fan will recognize… and you can be as nerdy as you want without revealing your secret to the world.