Five year old Isis of Picture Rocks, Arizona was given her name for its original connotation: an homage to the Egyptian goddess of children, defender of the downtrodden, once worshipped as the ideal mother and wife.
Her mother, Ciara Martinez, says the little girl has earned the name.
"It suits her perfectly with her condition now because she's beaten so many odds.”
Isis has a rare disorder called Rett Syndrome, which is similar in some ways to autism and to celebral palsy, but almost exclusively impacts girls. Symptoms include sensory problems, loss of speech, lack of social reciprocity, as well as gastrointestinal issues, difficulty moving, and spasticity.
Not only does young Isis’ name capture her strength through such obstacles, but it also endows her with some of the deserved respect that others might deny her for being “different.”
But unfortunately, goddess-like power is not what people think of anymore when they hear the name “Isis.” They think of the Islamic terrorist group, and its brutality.
Martinez created a group called “Pretty Halos” to raise awareness for her daughter’s disease, which impacts about 1 in 10,000 girls. For their annual car show in Tucson, they sold window stickers that said #TeamIsis. This caused major problems.
"There were people trying to run me off the road, people flipping me off, cursing at me.”
A friend who put the decal on a car was even investigated by the FBI.
Some would say that #TeamIsis was a bad marketing move, but the issue extends far beyond that. There are people who have confronted Martinez, demanding that she change her daughter’s name.
"The hardest part is people saying 'You really should change her name. It’s not an appropriate name. It's a disgrace to America.”
But Martinez won’t budge, and she continues to fight to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome, even while others try to divert her platform, her message.
Nonetheless, it is terrible that the name “Isis” has been tainted in this way. The goddess is still worshipped by many distinct pagan religions. She’s a symbol of the Goddess movement (which serves to balance out the many male-dominated religions of today) and of interfaith organizations such as the Fellowship of Isis.
Isn’t our associating the name primarily with the Islamic State giving the latter undue power?