A guilty pleasure is something that someone enjoys even though it might not be considered “cool” or “acceptable” by others. For example, someone might enjoy listening to pop music even though their friends might think it’s cheesy. Or, someone might love watching reality TV shows even though they know it’s not high-quality programming. Guilty pleasures are enjoyable because they are a break from the norm. They are something to be enjoyed in moderation.
Guilty pleasure, when pleasure and guilt come together
Although we rationally know certain actions to be guilt-free, when we perform them we may feel buried in that emotion. What’s behind the guilty pleasure?
Are you embarrassed to admit you’re addicted to this teen series with unreal storylines and lackluster acting? Love making chorizo sandwiches with nocilla, but only eat them when you’re home alone so no one criticizes your sweet tooth?
Do you say you like to read, but omit that the books you like the most are medieval romance novels? Congratulations, you can act modern on social media saying you have a guilty pleasure.
Lately, the term guilty pleasure has become popular on the internet. Translated as “guilty pleasure,” the term refers to those moments, actions, or entertainments that give us pleasure. But at the same time produce guilt for having felt that pleasure by consuming them.
Normally, guilty pleasure is used to refer to entertainment products or to talk about food or drink. But, really, the term can be extended much further. And that’s it, the pleasures come to us from all sides and the guilt too.
How is it possible that something that makes us happy also makes us feel guilty? Why do we hide some of our tastes and keep them private? Do we hurt someone by feeling pleasure for something? Are we bad at this? Rationally, the answer is simple: if your likes don’t hurt others, you shouldn’t feel guilty about them. Emotionally, things change.
Stereotypes, prejudices and expectations, the reason for guilty pleasure
Stereotypes in and of themselves are not bad. They help us simplify and classify society and prepare us for what we may find. Sometimes right and sometimes wrong, stereotypes are just another cognitive classification system. Let’s say they help us, basically, to simplify our lives a little.
We all have stereotypes and, in turn, we are all stereotyped. The problem comes when we consider them as a stagnant and immutable classification. At this point, stereotypes begin to give way to prejudices, and with them come negative connotations and expectations.
When someone classifies us in a certain way, we are expected to act in accordance with that classification. For example, you wear Iron Maiden and AC/DC t-shirts. The logic is that you like these bands and therefore people classify you as a rocker. Your playlist should be loaded with pure rock or similar musical genres.
And that, as a rocker, you act a certain way, have certain tastes, or your interests point in a certain direction. People have stereotyped you, categorized you, and created certain expectations around you.
However, one day you meet your friends and link your playlist to the speaker and suddenly Saoko de Rosalía starts playing. Music, in principle, that does not fit into the categorization they have made of you. In fact, it’s a style of music with a stereotype diametrically opposed to what is supposed to be yours.
The expectations that others have created around you are shattered.
Your friends are surprised, they may even make a funny comment that you don’t feel like dealing with. The feeling of guilt begins to surface within you for not being what others expected of you. And you hit the next button, hoping the shuffle will give you a song that “sucks you” and doesn’t make you feel judged for liking it.
You love Rosalía, it makes you happy to listen to her songs, it makes you dance, have fun and smile. But at the same time you know that she doesn’t fit in with what others assume of you, and this overcoming expectations makes you feel guilty for listening to it. Rosalía thus becomes your guilty pleasure.
Guilt as an alert to disapproval
To some degree, we all seek to fit in socially. Whether in some groups or in others, on a more or less large scale, we all look for affinities in others, as well as their taste. To do this, we project a certain image, consciously or unconsciously, of ourselves. With the way we dress, act or with our tastes, we communicate to the rest of the world to attract, or not, who interests us.
A mold is created around you into which society needs to fit you and into which you yourself step and make your own hole. If our mold is flexible and adaptable, we can mold it without too much trouble. However, when this mold is made of iron, with hard and immovable walls, trying to get out of it can create unpleasant feelings, such as guilt.
Guilt can have its roots in the fear of not fitting in with the group you are in.
Or in the fear of being attributed prejudices. That already fall on what we like to consume; for example.: The fear that someone will think we are simple and unintelligent because we like to watch reality TV shows. And it is that no one likes to receive disapproval from those with whom we seek to fit in, and when we feel in danger of doing so, guilt emerges as an internal alert.
Guilt, although considered a negative emotion, is not always bad. Guilt has an adaptive character that helps us control ourselves and not cross certain ethical and moral boundaries. However, when it comes to things as insignificant and harmless as liking a certain show. A certain style of music, or a certain food, guilt shouldn’t limit us. If you do, it is important to put things into perspective and be aware that we are not responsible for the expectations that others have of us.
Break the mould… or not
When having a guilty pleasure produces guilt at a crippling level and you start to stop being who you are for fear of not fitting in, it’s worth revisiting how necessary it is to s integrate with those from whom you hide.
Maybe it’s not worth surrounding yourself with people who give so much importance to such insignificant matters. As the programs you like, the music you listen to while you shower or what is your combination of favorite flavors. Maybe you should review your own mold and make it bigger and give it the shape you really want so that you have more space inside to move around with more freedom and safety.
There is also no need to break the mold with a hammer. It would be hypocritical to say that we do not have to box ourselves or anyone when, by simple social and unconscious act, we box everyone around us and also ourselves. We can simply change our hard molds to ones that have flexibility and mobility. It’s not wrong to have expectations, or for them to have any on us, as long as we are aware that they can be shattered at some point and nothing happens because of it.
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Vogue Health Team