Guilty Pleasures: Why do we feel the need to justify what we enjoy?

I recently wrote a blog post about my top 5 reality tv shows, and within the post I shared a quote by Dave Ghrol to encourage all reality tv fans to embrace their preferences. I would like to elaborate more on the importance of this quote, in which Dave (member of The Foo Fighters) states:

“I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not fucking cool.” Don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” It is cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic”! Why the fuck not? Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it! That whole guilty pleasure thing is full of fucking shit.” 

Beautifully said (despite all of the cursing, which I think is totally necessary to express the frustration behind this sentiment).

Why do we feel the need to justify our taste?

Most of have said this before at least once in our lives- “It’s my guilty pleasure”. We usually say this when we’re sharing something we enjoy with other people, but we feel embarrassed because it is generally frowned upon.

I have used the term guilty pleasure plenty of times when I’m afraid of being judged for my likes.

For example, whenever I tell someone that I watch a reality tv show, such as Made in Chelsea, I immediately say “it’s my guilty pleasure”. Or if I listen to a mainstream pop singer suddenly I’m feeling like I have a dirty secret.

These days, girls like me who enjoy what society has coined as ‘mainstream’ referred to as ‘basic bitches’- what a derogatory term used to shame a group of women for owning what they like.

Everyone has different tastes/likes/dislikes- and by the way I’m showing no hate for people who dislike what’s defined as mainstream or superficial (e.g. pop music or reality television).

I’m saying that we should all be able to own what we like and dislike, without feeling like we need to explain ourselves to anybody.

When I started going out my partner a few years ago, I was really nervous to share my tastes in music and television to him and his friends. My partner and I have really different tastes, which is great because we get to share things with each other that we usually wouldn’t discover on our own. However, the first few months of us going out, every time I brought up my taste in entertainment I would use the ‘guilty pleasure’ excuse out of fear of being judged. I eventually shared this fear with my partner and realised that I was being irrational.

Same goes with his friends, it has taken me a long time to accept that we have different tastes, and I have recently come to terms with the fact that I don’t need to hide what I like out of fear of being judged. My partners friends are all lovely people, and they are not going to judge me our differences- and quite frankly if they did, they aren’t people I would want to hang out with.

I may enjoy what is ‘mainstream’, but that doesn’t make me superficial by any means. I know who I am and I know what I like- and I never want to apologise for that again.



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