The Myth of Guilty Pleasures

The phrase guilty pleasure is construed to mean something you find enjoyable but you should embarrassed to admit you enjoy. When you are fond of a musician, television show, movie etc that by public standards is “embarrassing” you are said to have a guilty pleasure. If you tell your friends you love something and they laugh at you, you just admitted to having a guilty pleasure.

Guilty pleasures are a myth.

You should never be embarrassed about enjoying any form of media or activity. Does that catchy new pop song make you feel happy? How about that sappy soap opera on television? Maybe you love reading steamy romance novels because they let your mind wander. If these activities or interests make your life happier, why should you be embarrassed to admit to enjoying them?

Public pressure to conform in interests and activity is what generates this need to feel self-conscious about ones interests. Most of the time they are things that do not conform to gender role perceptions: a guy enjoying Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, or a woman who enjoys heavy metal despite working in the fashion industry. Both of those examples (read: stereotypes) exude the classic aura of a guilty pleasures.

When someone admits that something is a guilty pleasure for them they are doing two things.

One, they are admitting to how they allow public pressure to shape their view of normalcy. That all depends on what they find to be a guilty pleasure since everyone may find interests embarrassing that someone else may find normal. A lot of that has to do with their environment. The guy who enjoys Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift might not find it embarrassing if he is raising daughters who listen to them on repeat. Another guy may be embarrassed to admit to jamming to Taylor Swift because his gym buddies would mock him and question his “manliness”.

Two, they are providing a window into what their true interests are. If someone admits to enjoying something as a guilty pleasure chances are that is among their most enjoyable activities. The open expression of those interests is being suppressed by the pressure to conform to normalcy. Don’t allow it, engage someone regarding their guilty pleasures. Maybe you share interests and will make good friends, or maybe your friendship will be stronger if you’re already friends.

I’m not advocating dumping your friends because they think your love affair with campy 80s cartoons is silly. Instead try to make new friends based on your common interests, or find an outlet where you can communicate and relate with other people who share your view. Reddit is a great place for this, no matter how unknown or out there your interest is there is a subreddit for it.

Do not admit to guilty pleasures, instead admit to the things you enjoy and make your life happier.

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