Think of women’s guilty pleasures and you immediately think of a woman indulging in decadent dessert. But in reality, these so-called “guilty pleasures” are a lot more complex than that, and I am going to propose that we banish the term altogether! Read on to see why!
What Are Guilty Pleasures?
Traditionally, guilty pleasures are things that we do, that, although we enjoy them, they are things that may be taboo, unpractical, poor-quality, unproductive, or frowned-upon.
Here are some examples of typical guilty pleasures.
- Indulging in dessert
- Reading sultry novels
- That romance movie you watch over and over
- Sleeping in
- Taking a million selfies to get the right one
- Binge-watching TV shows… even if you’ve already watched them a million times
- Books like Harry Potter (if they go against your religion)
- Singing loudly (or badly)
- Dancing when your favorite song comes on the radio
- Playing games on your phone to waste time
- Junk pizza
- That awful pop song that you can’t help but dance to
- Drinking juice (or eating yogurt, or whatever) right from the carton
- Taking a “sick” day
- Getting take out instead of making dinner
- Anything “nerdy”, such as Star Wars or video games
- Watching weird videos on YouTube (let’s be honest, there are some pretty bizarre things you can watch!)
Personally, I love the movie Leap Year. It’s absolutely absurd. Irish people probably hate the movie for its poor representation of their country. And it’s poorly written. But I absolutely delight in the Irish scenery, and I love Amy Adam’s character growing from a stuck-up prude to going with the flow of life. Of course, sexual tension is always a plus in women’s guilty pleasures!
RELATED: 13 Ways to Support Other Women
Guilty Pleasures… A Bad Name?
But let’s take a closer look at what “guilty pleasure” implies. Let’s break it down.
pleasure (n): enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one’s liking; gratification; delight. worldly or frivolous enjoyment
guilt (n): a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
The entire definition of “guilty pleasure” assumes that you should feel bad about something that makes you feel good.
RELATED: Mom-Shaming: Why We Need to Stop
Difference Between Guilt and Shame
I’m not suggesting that you feel good about something that should cause guilt. The first rule of life is “Do no harm.” Others call it the Golden Rule, or “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.”
If your guilty pleasure causes others harm, then it’s not really a pleasure of any kind, and perhaps you deserve to feel guilty.
But what is guilt, actually? And how is it different from shame?
Because they are actually two different things.
The NICABM has an excellent infographic that discusses the difference between healthy guilt, unhealthy guilt, and shame.
Here are the key points:
Healthy Guilt: feeling of psychological discomfort about something we’ve done that is objectively wrong
Unhealthy Guilt: psychological discomfort about something we’ve done against our unrealistically high standards
Shame: intensely painful feeling of being fundamentally flawed
Part of the problem with “guilty pleasures” is that it’s not healthy guilt at all. It’s unhealthy guilt that in many cases can border on shame.
Unhealthy guilt can push us to punish ourselves and insist on behavior change of this perceived act against our unrealistically high standards. Sometimes, especially if our “guilty pleasures” come with oppression or exclusion from others, we might even feel shame. Shame causes fear that we will be rejected again and attempts to disconnect us from others to protect ourselves from further rejection.
RELATED: STOP Keeping Up with the Joneses
Essentially, there should be no shame in feeling good!
There is a long history of the patriarchy suppressing the common people’s desire for pleasure, especially women. In some cultures, it was done through oppression, in others, it was done through circumcision (of people of both sexes).
Basically, when there are consequences for pleasure, people are easier to control.
But there shouldn’t be shame or guilt attached to feeling good, presuming (again) that you’re not hurting anyone with your guilty pleasure.
Work on silencing your own shame to help you embrace the pleasure.
READ MORE: 25 Signs You’re a “Wild Woman”
6 Ways to Embrace Your “Guilty Pleasures”
Women, let’s embrace our guilty pleasures! Here are 6 quick ways to stop feeling guilty for something that brings you pleasure!
- STOP calling them guilty pleasures! Simply call them “pleasures.”
- Don’t hide your “guilty pleasures” from others. Share them abundantly! They might delight others as well!
- When partaking in your guilty pleasures, make sure you’re actually enjoying them and don’t actually feel guilty!
- Call others out when they shame themselves for their guilty pleasures. They don’t need to feel guilty about them!
- Honor others when they shamelessly embrace their own guilty pleasures.
- Find others who share your own guilty pleasures.
The Bottom Line: You should not be shamed by the things that give you pleasure in life. Learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy guilt. If you find yourself taking on unhealthy guilt, learn how to process it and rid yourself of it for good!
Women’s guilty pleasures are valid! Embrace what makes you feel good, girl!