This Week’s Book: The Nice Girl Syndrome (B. Engel)
I may have mentioned it before, but I totally judge a book by its cover. No…I’m not saying that as a metaphoric statement. I judge actual books by their actual covers. I’m completely convinced to pick up a book if it has a great picture on the cover, uses an eye-catching font, or has a snappy title. This time around I was won over by, not so much a snappy title, but an apt one. I came across this book at Chapters after I’d had three back to back sessions during which all three of my clients spoke about their people pleasing ways. I’m pretty sure that the title of this book convinced me to buy it on the spot.
The Nice Girl Syndrome is written with a very specific audience in mind – women who have been referred to or would consider themselves to be “nice girls.” In the early part of the book, Engel spends some time teasing out the variations of “nice girls,” describing how we become a “nice girl” and the false beliefs that are associated with the “nice girl” mentality. She draws attention to the cultural norms and media influence on women choosing a “nice girl” role. Engel focuses a lot of attention on trying to educate and encourage the reader to identify themselves in the pages of the book. She meticulously goes through 10 different false beliefs and gives concrete remedies for how to empower yourself to move away from being a “nice girl.”
I had such high hopes for this book. Seriously, the title and the chapter names were so convincing that I was like, “This book will be amazing! All my clients will need to read it!!” Aaaaaand I was wrong. Right in the introduction, I was rubbed the wrong way by this book. While the author explicitly states that she is not victim blaming, I still had a weird vibe from the language that she used and the way that being a “nice girl” was presented. I immediately did not want any of my clients to read this book.
With that being said, I decided to power through with reading it. I was annoyed to find that, at times, the author made some really good points. Like good to the point where I would take a picture of the sentence on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget it. Damn it…after the introduction, I wanted to find more and more reasons to not like this book. Instead, I seemed to develop a hate and tolerate relationship with it.
So, I’m admittedly hesitant to recommend this book. The cringe worthy moments outranked the good moments too much in my mind. I felt uncomfortable with a lot of the wording and I worry about the effects that those words could have on certain readers. Words are powerful. However, if you are able to put aside any emotional response to what you’re reading (unlike me, obviously) and you are curious about what some of the false beliefs linked to being a “nice girl” might be, then go for it…pick up this book and find the really good moments. Otherwise, maybe leave this book alone and leave it to me to find another, more comprehensive and less offensive, book for the people pleasers.
Interested in this book? Click here.
Kerry Hanna says
So interesting to read your perspective Erin! As a recovering people-pleaser myself I’m curious about reading this book now & a little nervous. I think I’ll look for it at my local library and read it with your comments in mind.