Every day I feel like I hear another report about bullying in our schools. We
all agree that this is horrible and has to stop. What we sometimes don’t realize
is that adults in general, and cake decorators in particular, can be bullies
too. Social media has made a small world even smaller.

Someone commented to a friend the other day that they had no idea that cake people could be so mean. This is the “not so sweet” truth about our profession. Somehow the sweet little cake ladies and guys turn into saber tooth tigers ready for the attack. If I am honest, I will tell you that I have been attacked in cake groups and on message boards and that I have probably treated someone else unkindly. I have vowed to try to be encouraging and a better friend. I hope that some of you will join me in this.

What do I think is not ok?  Let’s take them one at a time. Posting a cake made by someone else on your Facebook page to make fun of it is really not a nice thing to do. A friend in Canada posted the other day that someone in her general area was making a practice of doing this. A witty little comment like on Cake Wrecks is different from what I am talking about. I refer to the straight up mean, derogatory comments people make. Your snide words might choke the creativity out of that decorator. They might not try again, improve, grow because they are scared of people slamming their work.

Unsolicited critiques of someone’s work is just down right rude. I had posted work from my students the other day on my page. A decorator that I was FB friends with, but did not know personally, posted a critique with a link for instructions and the name of a book I should buy. Despite my efforts to try to explain that this was work done by students in a very short, intensive class, each of his comments kept adding a little dig about either me or my students. I
wrote him privately, telling him this was inappropriate and that I was removing his comments. He apologized, but with just one more dig. He was then unfriended. What did he have to gain by trying to make my students feel bad about their work?

My friend Janet Rosebeary posted a picture of a textured buttercream wedding cake on her business page.  A couple people started posting that the cake looked sloppy and other rude comments. Bear in mind that the cake was exactly what the bride wanted and was perfect for that woman’s reception.
Nonetheless, this mom and daughter duo decided they knew better and, even worse, that they needed to share their opinion on the cake. What motivated them to need to post that opinion publicly?

What happened to the old adage that if you don’t have something nice to say, you don’t say anything at all?  Do we truly need to share our negative thoughts?  If you think a decorator’s work is not good, do you have to tell them AND EVERYONE THEY KNOW publicly?

I have been in several parts of the world lately, and in almost every spot, I would hear a tale about the one angry or mean decorator in the bunch that caused fights or divides; that wanted to control the direction of the club or cake show long after their term ended; that caused the group membership to decline. I will tell you that there are people who have toxic personalities. These people build up their self esteem by tearing down others. We probably cannot change them, but we do not have to encourage or enable them. Let’s start celebrating the good in people and encouraging their progress as decorators. Think anything you want privately, share your negative thoughts very sparingly and share your public thoughts with great care.
Many of us have just one page that includes our family, friends, and business contacts. I cringe every time I see someone blast a family member, fellow decorator or stranger in a very public, very angry and hurtful way. I wonder why that needed to be public?  Did we all really need to know that the women at the bar are “hos” going after your man?  Do we need to know that your ex is a putz?  Do we need to know that you think so and so is a terrible decorator?  Why can’t we filter our thoughts?

Please, let’s listen to Ellen Degeneris and “Be Kind to One Another”. Before you start to post a thought, ask yourself if the world needs that thought. Don’t build your own self esteem by tearing down those around you. If you look for the good in others, you will find that soon people associate YOU with goodness. If you’re mean, well, you’re just going to be thought of as mean. I promise to try to do this. Will you?


18 thoughts on “Unsweetened

  1. Excellent post! I completely agree. I was in one of your classes this weekend. Was it my best work? No. There’s only so much you can do in 2 hours when you’re learning a new technique. But did I have fun and learn something? Absolutely! Thank you for posting this, and for being such a great teacher!

    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed things like this. I have always contended that no matter how many years a person has decorated, that they can always learn something new – a new tip, whatever. At the Tulsa ICES convention a few years ago, I was appalled when I heard a gal I knew go through the cake room and say ” there’s not anything in there I can’t do”. Then one time at our DOS, I heard this one gal say “I’m damn good and I know it”. To me bragging on myself like that would be calling attention to me. Humbleness is a good thing – at least I think so!!

  2. Great and thanks for showing the need for “respecting others feelings” which is a dying art. We all started out as beginners and not the perfect decorator so the work and knowledge has to be nurtured and grow. I get the feeling that the people who need this the most wouldn’t be reading this post…….

  3. Sadly, there does seem to be too much of this. I’d love to counter these stories with an amazing experience that our little group of 14 cake decorators just had. One friend was hospitalized just before a 4-wedding weekend, and when word went out there were more offers of help than she could handle! We pooled our resources and plans were made. Two of the group traveled 3 hours north with Icing and flowers and worked till midnight to get the cakes done. We all had been asked by clients “What would happen if you have an accident and can’t make my cake?” And we all hoped that friends would come together and make it happen, but it had never been put to the test. It worked beautifully, and our little group is stronger because of it. I hope that those who criticize others’ work might turn their energy to building something positive, and not tearing them down.

    • What a heartwarming story! Cake friends did the same thing for me when I went in for emergency surgery. I believe most are incredibly sweet, honest, encouraging folks. That mean little group, however, can damage a cake club or break the spirit of a young decorator. I hope we can keep the focus on the sweet things!

    • I’d like to echo the sentiments of the previous commenter about her group of cake friends. I am part of a good sized network here locally and it’s comforting to know we would be there to help each other out if an emergency occurred. I know there are so many out there that never come face to face with others that share their passions when they only have to step up and put themselves out there. I have taught classes, taken classes and done other things that give me good face time with other decorators, and will never get enough. Great post!

  4. i saw this happen a few weeks ago and when i said it wasn’t nice to slate someone else’s work i was called the Moral police and they were all entitled to their opinion, i don’t go on that forum so much any more x

  5. Thanks for this post…I would like to add that many of us new comers to the cake world are hard enough on ourselves and do not need negative comments..we spend hours trying to get it just right…stressing out over is our work good enough…will my customer be please. We are learning from trial and error. This is our art and can be interpreted differently by each of us. Just like in life we are all different with our strong and weak points…so lets remember to be kind…

  6. My daughter and I meet with a group of 25 women on Thursday mornings. We have challenged one another to memorize the book of James. Such a little book has SO MUCH to say about taming our tongues and treating one another right. It is a plumbline worth a quick read.

  7. Excellent topic Ruth! And unfortunately too true. There are so many negative people that just want to pull you down but I try my best to help lift others up. Do whats right and you will benefit in the long run!

  8. Great points!.
    One thing I learned when I was teaching online was that people will say anything online. It gives anonymity (even if you know the person) that a face-to-face encounter does not.
    At one cake show I entered, one person’s comments were constructively criticsl. The other person’s were totally negative and just mean. I’m glad that person judged adults and not kids.
    There is no reason to be nasty. It doesn’t help anyone.
    One last story. My first year doing graduate teaching, I got a typed paper with 63 typos and loaded with grammar errors. I went to my supervisor who was the most tactful person in the world and asked her what positive comment I could make. She read the paper, paused and said, “Well, it’s typed….” Moral: you can always find something positive to say.

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