“Guilty Pleasures”

Sometimes we watch, read, or listen to things that we might be embarrassed to admit. These are often known as “guilty pleasures,” or the things we’re ashamed of admitting that we like. It may be because these are considered to be tacky, basic, or are things that are often made fun of by the general public. So when we do admit that we enjoy these things, we quickly want to defend ourselves – hence calling them as “guilty pleasures” when talking about them out loud.

This shame and fear of being judged is incredibly common, especially during adolescence, and especially for those who have a mental illness. The need to be liked and accepted by others are incredibly human traits, and most of us will adapt ourselves in some way so that those around us see us in a positive way.

Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, however, can make those who show symptoms more sensitive to how people perceive them. For example, it’s the tendency to overanalyze other’s actions and think that these actions are all in response to what you’re doing, and if there’s any sign that they’re annoyed, displeased, or showing any other negative emotion, your brain tells you it’s because of you.

So when there is something that we can control, like choosing to talk about what kinds of media we consume for example, we either keep it to ourselves, or when it does slip up, quickly defend ourselves by saying that it’s a “guilty pleasure.” It’s a way to protect one’s self from being judged since you’re showing self-awareness that you know it’s not that great. However, even if you don’t admit to consuming that media out loud, that fear of being judged can still consume you and make you feel bad about yourself. This can affect you even wanting to consume that content in the first place, even if it makes you happy.

This process of detaching what you enjoy from others’ opinion of you can be difficult.  What you enjoy is up to you, however. Sure, books, TV shows, and music are ways to create bonds with others, and those may be the way that you start conversations and build friendships with people, but what you consume should ultimately be for you.

These are things that make you happy, and the fear of what others think of it should not dictate how and if you should consume it.


Do you have things that you consider to be “guilty pleasures?” Are there shows, books, music, or movies that you’re afraid to talk about enjoying? Have you ever pretended to like something because someone you admire or liked that thing?

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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