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The Nice Girl/Guy: Trope or Dope?


I'm guilty of being that yes girl. Do you want to go here? Yes. Fancy working here? Yes. Can you do this? Yes. But before I go further, I would like the preface my words with a slight irrelevance to the Me Too movement. When I say "no", it's not to an impending male or indeed female predator - though at some point I will cover a brief and much-needed note on just that.

Now, to continue, I'm guilty of being a people-pleaser; always a giver, never a receiver. It's okay to say yes, but it's also okay to say no. Saying yes almost seems like a personality trait. No one ever likes the mean girls, but if you aren't pretty, or loud, then being the nice one, the kind one, the yes girl seems like a good alternative, the only one. To stereotype further, for men, no one likes the arrogant type, if you aren't hot, or athletic, then being the nice guy, the one who actually cares, the yes man - if there is such a thing - is the best counter-offer.

I've grown up in schools with the popular kids; they are the tropes seen in the likes of Mean Girls, The Duff, The Breakfast Club or any coming-of-age teenage drama. Whether male, female or anything in-between, the popular clicks were always conventionally attractive. I've never been conventionally attractive. Tall, long legs, straight white teeth, Regina George hair, too much money, charisma and clear skin. Again, I reiterate, I was never any of these things and to this day I'm not. And neither were some of you. Each of us had labels, and I knew myself to be the "nice girl." A Betty Cooper without the Riverdale darkness. Never a Veronica, never the Claire, just left with some moderately ginger hair. I was always nice. Betty Cooper, Archie Comics, nice. And as a nice girl, saying no to things was rarely an option - though I wouldn't see myself as Anne Hathaway in Ella Enchanted - saying yes did offer a level of obedience that I accepted as part of my own likeability. The word "no", in a completely innocent sense of the word, was a rarity. How can you when you've built compliance into a personality trait or trope?

Being known as nice, while acquiring an ordinary comfort, has its pitfalls. You can't do anything out of character, anything anti-altruistic, anything that goes against that "inherent niceness". Think of it as being Betty Cooper: untying your blonde ponytail and putting on your red lipstick. Or Archie: not taking a job with deatheater Hiram Lodge and kissing his best friends girlfriend - Betty. If you jeopardise your niceness then who are you? How will people see you? Define you? How will you define yourself? There are multiple ways of getting people to like and respect us, from being James Accaster to having enough money to send you and your buddies into outer space and being nice is a cheaper alternative - one that doesn't rely on your stack of terrible dad jokes. But who cares if people still see you as a nice girl or guy? Or don't? Don't say yes, just because you think people will like you more; don't just accept things as they are. Even being guilty as a yes girl from time to time, this nice girl could say no. I said no to the guy who wanted inappropriate pictures, to the people that bullied my friends and my sister, I said no to forcing myself to engage in activities I didn't like to stay friends with the people I liked. Say no to anyone or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, whether that be physically or mentally. Say yes, instead, to speaking out about those people or things.

It's more than okay to yes. It's okay to be nice, to be a little bit of a TV character trope. But it's okay to have the courage to say no. It's okay not to be the definition of niceness because if we search our names, they weren't a synonym to begin with.

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Posted 11 months ago

Relatable article! Loved it!