I hate guilty pleasures.
Not the concept itself, but the way we talk about it. The words “guilty” and “pleasure” are straight forward enough, but what I don’t understand is the “guilty” part of the equation.
Why does something that’s supposed to make us feel good also have to make us feel guilty?
As a society, we don’t talk about guilty pleasures often, but when we do it’s clear that a guilty pleasure is something you should feel embarrassed about or not be willing to tell other people about.
The top definition for a guilty pleasure on Urban Dictionary is “something that you shouldn’t like, but like anyway.” It goes on to describe it as an activity that is “believed or informed to be abnormal, improper or incorrect.”
There’s also some much weirder stuff, involving buttholes and ABBA, because, well, it’s Urban Dictionary, but you can enjoy that on your own time.
As for guilty pleasures, no matter where you find the definition, the message is the same: There are things we enjoy in our day-to-day lives that are weird and we just shouldn’t talk about them.
But why? What are we so worried about?
Is the very act of spending time on ourselves and our pleasure that strange that we are supposed to feel bad about it? Or are we just so worried about our self-image that we feel strange whenever we like things that are out of the ordinary?
A quick search on Twitter with the keyword #guiltypleasure proves that there are a lot of things that people are embarrassed about enjoying.
Anything from reality TV, Disney music or stuffed crust pizza seem bad enough to warrant the hashtag—although the point can be made that because these people are posting about it on social media means they aren’t actually that embarrassed about it.
However, guilty pleasures are still not a good thing. Even if people are able to admit they like something, it’s setting a dangerous precedent to continue to allow ourselves to feel bad about enjoying something that other people might not like.
You should never feel embarrassed about something you love.
If you’re a girl who plays video games, but worry that gaming is only for guys, it doesn’t matter. Play as many video games as you want and don’t waste a single minute wondering if it’s weird or not. Other people’s approval doesn’t make you a “real” gamer, playing games does.
If you love to read romance novels but feel compelled to read more literary fiction because it looks better to your friends, who cares? Read whatever you want! If you enjoy it, isn’t that all that should matter?
If you love to read Harry Potter or watch Disney movies, but think those things are just for little kids, rock it. Age doesn’t prevent you from enjoying a piece of entertainment; it just allows you to interpret and understand it in new ways.
If you’re a guy who likes to knit, but worry what other people will think, screw them! You do you, and if something is fun or you like doing it, you should have every right to do it.
So yes, I hate guilty pleasures, but I don’t hate pleasure. I hate the idea that we can’t enjoy ourselves or our entertainment without wondering what other people are going to think. There are too many bigger problems in the world that deserve more attention.
If you like something, great! You should never feel guilty about it.