Nice is the New Mean

Be Nice of Leave pillow from Alexandra Ferguson

image with permission from

My writing makes some people uncomfortable.

I imagine them thinking: There she goes again, writing about bitter pants. Why can’t she write something nice? Just show us some innocuous pictures of your sweet husband, your cute child, and your little dog too, my pretty!

My husband is sweet. My child is cute. My dog is little. There are days I am pretty. I’ll throw in a few pictures, but in case you missed it, I turned 40 this year.

With the fourth decade comes several startling revelations. Among them this: Nice is the new mean.

Clarification: Nice is nice when it’s kind. Nice is mean when it’s superficial.

There are no scientific studies I know of to back this up, but here’s an anecdotal theory. It seems as women age they lose their edit function. No more worrying about what the nice thing to say would be. Not enough time for that nonsense.

In the words of my cousin’s beautiful wife Sue, the can of worms is already open. Might as well let ’em fly.

Some of the flying worms are nice, some are not. The un-nice worms aren’t rude. But they’re not sugar-coated in shallow diplomacy, political correctness or Christianese either. They are direct little boogers because remember, we’re not getting any younger.

I’m not advocating bad manners or speaking the truth without love or sniping at folks with petty, evil comments. However, I spent years going out of my way to keep my opinions and the truth to myself so no one would be offended.

And I wasted a lot of energy in self-reproach because, another fourth decade gem, I can’t please everyone. Neither can you. Surprise!

nice picture of my pretty and her little dog too

nice picture of my pretty and her little dog too

With these conclusions, a sad observation. Some people would very much like me to be someone else. It would make them more comfortable.

You may know them too. They sound like this: Keep your emotions to yourself. You need to do God’s work. What’s with you and the truth? Just be content. Write something nice.

Is this the example I want to set for my child? It’s best to go along and get along? We should be nice at all costs even if the greatest cost is to one’s integrity?

No way, José. My life is imperfect, a work in progress. But I hope what’s important to me shines through now and then.

Be honest. Be kind. Address what’s wrong.

Be who God created you to be even if it is different than the people around you. Even if it makes some of them uncomfortable.

And by the way, when you belong to God, it’s all His work.

Godspeed, son. Let ’em fly.

An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26 NLT

King of Anything by Sara Bareilles makes a fitting song. Perhaps we’re related.

Yes I Can pillow from Alexandra Ferguson

image with permission from

Alexandra Ferguson

Alexandra Ferguson started a “sassy little pillow company” on Etsy in 2009. Her pillows, featured in this post, are “American-made manufacturing from recycled materials that any side of the aisle can be excited about.” Check out more of her fun and gutsy designs at, like this one with a super hero’s silhouette. Love it!

Disclaimer: I’m not being compensated to promote Alexandra Ferguson.

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Filed under blogging, life, women's studies

23 Responses to Nice is the New Mean

  1. Ginger Price

    Oh Aimee, if Jeff is the Pres of your fan club, can I be the VP? Tipping my hat to you today…keep writing and being you. It’s ok to make people uncomfortable, sometimes it’s in that space where we are challenged to think differently!

  2. Honesty, transparency and being who you are is what I respect the most about other friends and bloggers. The fake nice I can usually see through and it’s not worth my time being fake nice back. Keep writing, keep pushing and I’m nicely telling you…I love it!

    • Thank you, Katie. Ditto what you wrote. So true and so encouraging!

      • Katie took the words right out of my mouth. I remember the time we met to talk blogging at Bread Co, and I told you that my favorite bloggers are the ones that you can tell are being transparent without just airing all of their family’s dirty laundry. Chicks you’d like to sit and have a drink with even if you don’t know them in real life. Girls that, if you DO know them in real life, match up on their blog with what you know of them.

        Keep up the good work!

  3. PS I am going to get one of those pillows!

  4. Alicia Norton

    I love this one. Sandy and I were just talking about this. Funny!

  5. Lisa

    Being a person of rather strong opinions and a vigorous way of expressing them, I know the value of having someone say, “Um, you’re in the wrong here, and you need to knock it off.” My friend Kari – is awesome at that. The first time she did it I thought, “wow, that took guts.” But it shouldn’t have to be brave to tell a friend the truth, when it is in fact, most likely why we’re friends in the first place. You have the gift of truth mixed with Southern charm Aimee. keep telling it like it is.

    • If you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep telling it, Lisa. And please don’t ever change. My family and I love your strong opinions and vigorous–stylish–way of expressing them!

  6. I felt the ‘filter’ slipping at 40, but really gave it permission to hit the road at 50. Whether we’re writing, exchanging a courtesy at Starbucks, or hammering home a point to our college grad, removing the visible (sometimes contrived) facade makes the connection more genuine for sender and recipient.

    You do it very well for a newbie:)

  7. Pingback: Reader’s Choice 2011: Nice is the New Mean | everyday epistle

  8. And this would be one great reason to do reader’s choice awards! I totally missed this one somehow…So glad to have caught it this time around.

    Great post like always! (for the record, I do not find you bitter at all)

  9. So glad you reposted a link to this!!! What a great reminder!

  10. Pingback: Challenge: It’s a Good Thing | everyday epistle