‘Guilty pleasure’. Why would anyone want to come up with such a notion? I mean, if something — no matter what that thing is — gives us pleasure, why should we feel guilty about it? Unless, of course, we’re doing something that’s harming someone else, or is illegal.
According to my quick research (thanks Google), the phrase first appeared in an 1860 edition of The New York Times, when an article referred to going to brothels as a ‘guilty pleasure’. Prostitution wasn’t illegal at the time, but the act of visiting a brothel was deemed to be immoral.
Fast forward to the 21st century and the phrase has become a cliché for all things we enjoy — whether those things are ‘immoral’ or not — but are embarrassed to admit we enjoy. Embarrassed because we feel like we’ll be ridiculed, or we feel like we’re doing something bad or we feel like we’ll be looked down upon.
Let’s face it, we all love things that other people will think are naff, or not ‘intellectual’ enough, or ‘below them’ or just wrong.
It might be watching Mamma Mia instead of Les Mis, or curling up with a Mills & Boon instead of a Man Booker, or listening to Maroon 5 instead of Motzart.
We all love things that other people think are rubbish, and that can make us feel rubbish.
But it’s so important that we don’t chuck our rubbish out! It’s so important that we own — celebrate even — the things that make us feel good, no matter where anyone else places those things on the ‘worthiness’ scale. It’s so important that we don’t shroud ourselves in shame, don’t feel ‘less’ because of the things we enjoy most. Because, as another well-worn cliché accurately says, one person’s rubbish really is another’s treasure.
Sometimes it’s actually our own inner voice — that niggly inner bitch — that whispers ‘you’re not worthy’, just because you prefer Queer Eye to Question Time. But often it’s the company we keep; the friend who throws her eyes in the air when you tell her you don’t like Haagen Dazs, but you love a McFlurry. Or the colleague who laughs cynically when you tell them you’re hooked on Home and Away and no, you‘ve never seen Hamlet. Or the person who pokes fun when you say you prefer John Grisham to George Orwell.
Let them laugh! Let them jeer! Don’t pretend to be interested in, or knowledgeable about, something you’re not interested in and know nothing about.
Don’t edit yourself for the sake of someone else’s approval. Honestly, where’s the pleasure in that…?