- Christy Alfaro
Let's Stop Using the Term "Guilty Pleasure"
Updated: Jan 19
I've always been someone who's cared very deeply about what people think about me. It's not my favorite quality in myself but it's the truth. I've always been this way, I've always hid the things that I love. I still do this, whenever I listen to country music I roll my windows up so that no one else can hear that I'm listening to it (mainly because I used to get teased for my white girl music.) I remember I once told someone about how I love Selena Gomez's music and they responded with how she's their guilty pleasure listen and I wondered if I was supposed to say something similar? Was I supposed to be ashamed of listening to Selena Gomez's music? After that conversation I would preface that she was my guilty pleasure listening so that people wouldn't judge me. But the thing is I'm tired of the term "guilty pleasure"!
This last year I've been doing a lot of work to be okay with myself for who I am. When I went to college I got a therapist specifically because I felt like I didn't know who I was as a person away from my parents influence. I realized that the person I am is always changing and that that's okay, but loving the current version of myself is super important. Last year I started to revisit all the things I used to love when I was younger but felt like I had to hide, my "guilty pleasures." I started with re-watching & re-reading the Twilight Saga, then I listened to all of Taylor Swift's albums, and then I rewatched High School Musical. I found a new appreciation for Taylor Swift, found High School Musical as ridiculous but fun as I remembered it, and re fell in love with Twilight.
It's been liberating to just love what I love. To allow myself to grow, but still hold onto the things that I feel make me feel whole. Because, why should I feel guilty about the things that bring me joy? What is guilty about finding happiness? (Note: This is only for things that are legal and consensual) I propose that we get rid of the term guilty pleasure all together, it wouldn't be hard. If I'm talking to someone and they say: "I love Britney Spears," I can just respond, "OMG yes! I've loved her since I was a kid and still jam to her music." Instead of, "Yes, she's my guilty pleasure play."
This might seem like a silly thing to harp on. I mean, who really cares what we say right? But for someone who struggles to accept themself, for someone who's self conscious these words really matter. No one should feel shamed into hiding the things that they love. All that does is create barriers between people and stops people from forming real connections.
I've always felt slightly "guilty" about my love for romance books. First because they're smutty and I didn't know what people would think of me. Second because as someone who calls herself a reader people would judge me when I said I mainly read romance, calling me "not a real reader". A couple years ago I worked a babysitting gig in Culver City, on my way to the house I passed by thee cutest pink store, I couldn't tell what the store was for but I saw pink and saw the name: The Ripped Bodice and knew I had to check it out. The next time I worked the babysitting gig I left a little early and stopped by there before I had to start babysitting. The Ripped Bodice ended up becoming a safe haven for me. The first all romance bookstore in America, I bonded with so many people in that store over romance books. With Covid putting a halt to group meetings I've been missing that connection and have decided to create my own romance book club with friends. You see, if I had kept my love for romance as my "guilty pleasure", not telling anyone I wouldn't have made the connections I've made.
Life is way too short to be shamed for the things that bring you joy. But more than that, finding a way to love all facets of yourself is so important. You are beautiful just the way you are, and if someone doesn't love the same thing you do that's totally okay! As long as they aren't being a dick about it. By the way, don't be a dick about what brings someone joy. If it doesn't personally harm you then let them find joy in that thing. I don't like Justin Bieber but I wouldn't shame someone for liking him. Finding connections with people over the things you both like it's great, but finding love within yourself for all the things that make you you is even better. So this is my call to action: Let's stop calling things a guilty pleasure! Let's express our joy without restraints!
Until next time, continue to find your joy.
A Whelmed Christy
(If you're interested in joining my romance book club send me a message in the contact section!)