In support of nice

HALLIE EPHRON: I just read another essay written by a woman who was pissed off because a stranger told her to “smile.” Because isn’t it so demeaning? And so none of their business? And isn’t it only a woman whom a complete stranger would feel comfortable instructing to Smile

I found one explanation in USA Today in an article quoting biological anthropologist Helen Fisher.

"… a lot of men view smiling as subservient, weak and vulnerable. In fact, high-testosterone men do not smile much, and overall use less facial expression. So, telling a woman to smile might be pushing her back into a traditional stereotype."
For the record, I hate it when a complete stranger tells me to smile.  It makes me want to snarl.

And yet, and yet…

Lately I find myself going out of my way to smile. To be pleasant to strangers. To make eye contact. Especially with folks who look different (on any dimension) from me. Because being nice is contagious, and that’s a good thing. You don't even have to speak the same language to do it. It's a tiny effort to counteract the pervasive judgmental nastiness that seems to be thriving out there.

Just yesterday, a driver waved me in, in front of her (or him?) in the congested town square near my house. Lucky for whoever it was, the traffic started moving and I had to stifle the urge the leap from my car, dash back, and hug them.

Instead, I waved. And s/he WAVED BACK! OMG. It lifted my spirits. For the whole day. Plus all day I let other drivers cut in front of me with a wave and a smile.

Call me a good-two-shoes if you like, and please, don’t tell me to smile. Smile yourself. And be nice. Just because you can. And because it’s catching.

I leave you this Sunday with a photo of my granddaughter, taken a few years ago. Is that a million-dollar smile or what?


In support of nice