I consider myself a well-educated, intelligent person. I went to a fancy, four-year college. I’ve said “Kafka-esque” unironically at least once in my life (and knew what it meant). I’ve debated politics and religion without talking myself into a corner, but I also like a lot of silly, guilty pleasures that consistently bring me joy. They’re things I feel like I have to apologize for loving, or else defend them when I admit them to people. Most of the time, I’ve felt like I have to bend over backward so people don’t judge me for my “dumb” interests…until I had enough.
I feel like there’s a dangerous tendency in this world to be ashamed of the things we like, whether it’s romance novels, pop music, or the E! network. I’ve found that time and again, people are so uncomfortable expressing their love for things that are considered low-brow, and I think that’s a silly way to live your life. Here are the so-called stupid things I love, why I love them, and why you shouldn’t be ashamed of your “guilty pleasure” interests.
I was 15 when I first picked up and loved Twilight, but obviously, a lot of things about me have changed in the intervening 10 years. Strangely, I still like Twilight. I re-read the books last year on a whim, and while the feminist in me agrees with some of the criticism, I still devoured those books as if they would save me from drowning. I read them at night, with no one around, and did not bring them out of the house, for fear someone would see me and shame, shame, shame. Until I thought, why the heck does it matter if I like something silly? There’s something about Twilight I love, whether it’s the crazy romance, the impressive world building, and the whole happily-ever-after ending. It appeals to something in me, and I’m not ashamed of that.
The same goes for whatever you like, whether it’s romance novels, poorly-written YA, or anything else you love. If you like it, then there must be a reason, and a good one at that.
I’m not talking about that “indie pop,” either. I’m talking real, Top 40, radio pop. I like all kinds of music really, but sometimes, absolutely nothing beats rolling all your windows down, blasting Top 40 radio, and singing (maybe screaming) along to all the best hits of the season. Pop music can save the world, guys.
At any given time, I can probably recite three to five trending celebrity stories in their entirety, so as to keep my less-connected friends totally in the loop about what’s happening with Ariana Grande, Leonardo Di Caprio, or dozens of other larger-than-life celebrities. Yes, I did see that nude selfie on Instagram, thank you very much. I click on TMZ articles and read those avidly, because I like reading about the fabulous lives of famous people. It makes me smile, and that’s more than fine.
One of my friends recently shared that she’d read over 40 books this year already (gotta love that Goodreads challenge), but then qualified the statement with, “But they were just graphic novels.” Like comic books, or graphic novels, were somehow lesser than contemporary fiction or literature. As if! They may technically be “picture books,” but graphic novels are well-written, with complex themes and well-rounded characters, and their stories are just as vivid and worth reading as conventional books.
Perhaps less “low-brow culture” and more “girly,” makeup nevertheless comes with a lot of stigma. Sometimes, I feel compelled to say, “I don’t wear foundation, it’s just BB cream” or “My makeup routine takes only 10 minutes in the morning.” But what’s the point? Who really cares how much or how little makeup I wear? I love the whole process of being made up and feeling pretty, and I am proud of my small but impressive lipstick collection. And yes, I have more than one Kylie lip kit…and more than two. And maybe more than three.
My friend has a daughter aged four, and the reason she likes me is because I can sing every single classic Disney song ever, from The Lion King to The Little Mermaid (my personal fave). But I always feel a little stupid for loving Disney movies, when all of my friends are like, “Oh, like, that’s so childish.” Well, in case you didn’t realize, being a kid is the best. I love being in touch with my inner child, and liking the same things I liked when I was young, innocent, and carefree. It still brings me joy, and it proves that I have the same interests as a four-year-old. Ain’t mad about it.
I know that everyone thinks reality TV is the harbinger of the apocalypse, but I have always said, what’s wrong with watching a little trash now and then? Or, you know, all of the time. Cause that’s perfectly fine, too. Reality TV may be more “TV” and much less “reality,” but if it entertains me and makes my evenings fun, relaxing, and enjoyable, then it’s a-okay in my book. Not everything has to be HBO to be good.
The moral of the story is that not everything has to be “high-brow” or “cultured” in order to be worthwhile, and I think it’s time to stop judging each other — and ourselves — for having interests. “Guilty pleasure” shouldn’t be a thing; if it’s pleasurable to you, don’t feel guilty about it! Proclaim it from the mountaintop! No shame! I like Twilight!