“Fancy a guilt-free holiday?”
“Try these guilt-free brownies!”
“Dessert, without the guilt.”
Honestly, I can’t think of a phrase that is more toxic for women’s health and wellbeing than ‘Guilt Free’.
What do I mean by toxic?
Toxic (informal): causing you a lot of harm and unhappiness over a long period of time.
Honestly, what is the word ‘guilt’ even doing in our day to day dictionaries? I don’t even really remember the first time I saw the phrase, but it was most likely brought into existence in a marketing boardroom somewhere, during the sugar-free diet craze to get more of their products flying off the shelf.
Guilt. noun. The fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime.
Guilty. adjective. Culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing.
Whether it’s to do with spending money on ourselves (*GASP* Heaven forbid!) or eating something with more than a teaspoon of sugar (*TUT TUT*), the phrase ‘Guilt Free’ seems to follow women around, forcing us to assume we’re constantly doing things we shouldn’t.
Can you imagine the impact that alone has one our minds and bodies over time?
The more I think about the use of the phrase ‘Guilt Free’, the more I realise there’s an entire industry feeding off of the feelings of anxiety, depression, self-loathing and, yes, guilt, associated with doing things we find enjoyable.
There is an entire industry preying on the fact that the world of social media is designed to make women feel as though we’re not good enough… not smart enough… not sexy enough or thin enough or muscular enough…
Making us feel as though every other woman in the world has time to work full time and scour Pinterest to handmake birthday cakes for the children and exercise for 2 hours a day… why can’t you?
It doesn’t seem like anyone else has a problem putting on a full face of makeup and having their hair done when leaving the house… See all of these pictures on Instagram of impossibly beautiful people first thing in the morning – what’s wrong with you?
In my mind, the phrase ‘Guilt Free’ is worse than any ingredient that might be in that dessert. It’s a cancer that sinks its hooks into the deep recesses of your brain… perhaps not having much impact at first, but soon enough, it spreads, casting a shadow over everything you do, and convinces you that you’re doing life wrong.
Repeat after me
EATING IS NOT A CRIME.
What IS a crime is industries built on making women feel as though these things are a crime.
“If you choose to eat that deliciously gooey chocolate chip cookie, it should be a conscious indulgence, not a guilty pleasure. In other words, it should make you feel empowered and happy, not like you did something bad and need to eat kale salads the rest of the day to make up for it.” Keri Glassman, Dietician
Only you are in charge of you
In a world so overly focused on what our bodies look like as opposed to what they can do, we don’t need guilt piled on top of it.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make changes in your life. If you feel as though your eating, spending or any part of your life is out of hand or unhealthy, you should be empowered to do something about it.
I thought hard about whether to publish this because I know it’s a sensitive topic. But I guess what I’m saying is that your attitude toward your mind and your body should be just that. Yours.
If you want to make a change, you go!
Change your diet, your outlook, your wardrobe and your spending habits because YOU want to… not because some middle aged balding fat white guy sitting in a corporate marketing office somewhere is making you feel guilty and creating feelings of loathing toward yourself.
Take your power back. Only you get to decide what’s right for you.
While we’re at it, other words to ban from your vocabulary include:
- Cheat Day – guilt-free’s asshole cousin
- Detox – insinuates your body is either toxic or not working properly to rid itself of its own toxins
- Cleanse – feeds a presumption your body is dirty and needs cleaning
- Bikini Body – if you have a body, you can put it in a bikini. End of.