Guilty pleasures?

A laptop sits on a bed, with Netflix open.

When we indulge in something that we think we shouldn't, we call it a 'guilty pleasure'. But should we be feeling guilty about something we enjoy?

I have felt the overwhelming stress of the semester and wanted to enjoy something light. So I caved, and binge-watched Bridgerton. I also swapped out my typical reading material—literary fiction—with a light-hearted romance novel. Yet I found myself feeling almost embarrassed that I was consuming these forms of media.

We often speak of this idea of 'guilty pleasures'. It could be watching animal videos on TikTok, listening to the latest Taylor Swift album, or simply eating too much ice-cream. Whatever it may be, we brand it as something that we should ultimately feel guilty about that. 

I question the reasoning behind this. Perhaps it is because we feel we should be productive at all times, constantly educating and culturing ourselves. This most definitely hits students, who often feel the need to impress their peers by appearing cultured, well-read or even interesting.

But surely this idea is absurd: why should we be embarrassed telling our friends that we are watching a fun comedy or listening to a pop song? Typically, what is considered to be a guilty pleasure is mainstream or popular anyway, so surely our friends might be indulging the same things. 

I personally don't think we should be shamed for enjoying anything that makes us happy or makes us laugh. Especially when we spend so much time focused on our studying, surely we deserve some respite?

So I, for one, will not feel guilty about watching a show that made me swoon or reading a book that was a welcome swap from philosophical readings. Let's get rid of this idea of guilty pleasure, because we ultimately should not feel guilty about engaging in something that brings us joy.


Tagged in What messes with your head, joy