No Guilt In Our Pleasure

A person in a soft pink lingerie outfit smiles while holding the Sway by Lora diCarlo. They sit in front of an abstract background of lavendar and aqua, with lilac flowers behind them and pieces of yellow tape as visual accents.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ before. It’s how our smart friend describes their new reality tv fix, or how our partner explains their go-to snack of popcorn with parmesan cheese.

And while this common phrase seems on the surface to be lighthearted — a way to poke fun at the things that we think are weird or tacky about ourselves — it reinforces the idea that we should feel guilty for partaking in the things that give us pleasure. It implies that we don’t really deserve the things we enjoy. Which, if you ask me, is pretty weird.

It’s not surprising, of course. We live in a society that does not encourage us to prioritize what we enjoy, what makes us feel good, what helps us recharge, and what makes us laugh. The world at large is busy, stressful, and challenging to navigate even for the luckiest of us. But we firmly believe that the best antidote for fear, anxiety, and stress is pleasure. And when we attach feelings of guilt to what we enjoy, it keeps us from being fully in our happiness. But as adrienne marie brown writes in one of my personal favorite books, Pleasure Activism: “pleasure is a measure of freedom.”

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