FUN

7 "Uncool" Things I Love Genuinely and with Absolutely No Irony or Guilt

I don't do "guilty pleasures."

Remember when "hipster" was the diss du jour, before it became so overused you could use it to describe literally anyone below the age of 35 who owned a scarf? One time someone called me a hipster for wearing a cardigan. The official standards for hipstership are beyond the scope of my millennial brain.

One of the detectable prerequisites for admission into the club of People Who Will Be Called a Hipster is the habit of embracing things "ironically." I do a lot of things that could be called hipster-y (I'm cringing every time I type that word, by the way): I listen to music on vinyl, I shop almost exclusively in thrift stores, I once dated a dude with a handlebar mustache for, like, over a year. I do all those things and more! But I would never — I repeat, NEVER — love something "ironically."

It's an inclination I cannot comprehend. I approach all of my life's whims and passions the way I approach relationships and Chinese food buffets: wholeheartedly and genuinely, with no regard for consequences or calories. I have an intense personality and am pathologically incapable of loving something halfway, let alone loving it as a "joke." Love is not a joke to me!

There are some things in this world I love genuinely, but because they're considered "uncool" by the behind-the-curtain wizards who determine what's cool (teens on Tumblr), people sometimes assume I love them "ironically." Or WORSE, that I think of them as "guilty pleasures." I would NEVER. If you're not hurting anyone or doing anything wrong (and I rarely am, because I'm a literal angel), you should never feel guilty for liking the things you like.

It's worth noting things we refer to as "guilty pleasures" are typically media or pop-culture created for women. When you think of guilty pleasures, you might think of The Bachelor or romantic comedies. You would never hear someone refer to Monday Night Football as their guilty pleasure. And when we start referring to foods as guilty pleasures, it ties into a lot of the insidious and dangerous ways we moralize and police foods as a culture. I'm all for eating healthy and treating your body well, but there's nothing inherently sinful about eating a sleeve of Oreos, and you needn't feel guilt for doing so. Enjoy yourself, and then drink a green juice and do maybe one pushup tomorrow. You're good!

I like what I like, and I don't feel bad about it. I feel bad when I hurt someone's feelings or when I accidentally step on my cat's paw, but I will never feel bad about liking music or TV or whatever. And I will NEVER love something ironically, and you shouldn't either.

Here are a few of the "uncool" things I unabashedly love with no trace of irony, in case you need permission to stop feeling guilty about your pleasures, too.

Cracker Barrel

My love of Cracker Barrel, along with my looks and resting bitch face, can be entirely credited to my mom. Before birthing me, my mother lived an incredibly storied life. A child of divorce in the '60s, she spent part of her childhood traveling the East Coast with the carnival my grandfather ran for a while. She would grow up to join the army and work as a military paralegal for a while before meeting my dad and fulfilling her life's true purpose of being the person I call when I forget how to get stains out of the carpet.

At some point in the various lives she's lived, my mother worked as a waitress at a Cracker Barrel in South Carolina. She did such a bang-up job waiting tables, Cracker Barrel gave her several promotions during her stint with them. Though her time with the Barrel was short-lived, she never lost her loyalty to the treasured Southern-style chain.

Growing up, any family road trip meant an obligatory stop at one of the hundreds of Cracker Barrels located right off every highway along the East Coast. Is Cracker Barrel the most delicious food in the world? No. Is the menu particularly creative? Nah. Is it a cool, hip place to grab brunch with your friends? Not really.

But it's without a doubt one of my favorite places on earth. I love the comforting, faux-antique vibes. I love the easy-to-read menu. I love that you can get breakfast all day. (Shout-out to the Sunrise Sampler!) On a slightly hungover Sunday morning, you can always find me and my real friends chillin' with the post-church crowd, rockin' in our big beautiful front porch chairs, and waitin' for a table to open up at the CB.

OK, Basically All Chain Restaurants

While Beyonce recently gave Red Lobster a flawless publicity boost, I've been boasting my love for chain restaurants for a very long time. Chili's, Ruby Tuesday, TGIFriday's, Olive Garden, YES PLEASE.

I grew up far from rich, and when my family did a Big Night Out, it was usually at one of the many chain restaurants located in our Baltimore suburb. As a kid, my favorite was Sizzler, but you can't really find Sizzler on the East Coast anymore.

There's just something really comforting to me about settling in for dinner at Chili's, okay? And chain restaurants have some ballin' drink deals. I have recently gone on dates with two different dudes that have ended up at the Chili's bar, and I have no regrets!

I like reliable food at affordable prices, and I like my waiters flair'd up, so I don't see my love for chain restaurants ending any time soon. Who wants to be my next Chili's date? I'll buy us some $2 Miller Lites!

HGTV

I don't have cable, but whenever I find myself in a home with cable (like when I'm housesitting, like right now — the dream job!), my first step is always to park myself in front of that TV and settle in for several hours of my very favorite channel: HGTV.

Though it's still quite a distance away, owning a home one day is one of my biggest dreams. Home ownership is rad. (Another "uncool" thing about me is that all of my biggest life fantasies mostly involve settling down and raising some kids and trying as hard as I can to become Gwyneth Paltrow.)

While I won't be owning a home for a very long time, I get to live vicariously through various HGTV programming. My mom and I always watch House Hunters together and take turns trash-talking the contestants and their terrible taste in kitchen decor. House Hunters International is basically my porn. (JK, porn is my porn.)

When I found out Property Brothers was on Netflix, I promptly kissed my productivity goodbye for several weeks. I love those brothers so much! And I could basically watch Love It or List It or Fixer Upper or Property Virgins all day, every day. It's so suburban and dorky and anything but on-trend, but it makes me really happy. And I register to win the HGTV Dream Home twice a day. Can't wait to win!

"Drops of Jupiter" by Train

There are a lot of songs in this world that I can love while acknowledging they are terrible. I mean, you guys don't even know how much Chingy is on my Spotify playlists. This is not the case for "Drops of Jupiter," though, which I think is a good song.

"Drops of Jupiter" came out when I was in middle school and immediately became the perfect ballad for scream-singing along to with my teenage friends during the carpool home. It's ridiculous and over-the-top and lovable. Its lyrics are ideal Instagram bio fodder. "She checks out Mozart while she does Tae-Bo" is so me.

Train's lead singer, Patrick Monahan, said he wrote the song about his mother after she lost her battle with cancer, in case you needed something to feel sad about today.

Also, as a kid, I misheard the lyrics and thought he was singing, "Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded, and Van Halen is overrated?"

Self-Help Books

I'm in my mid-twenties, which means I'm in a constant state of transition, whether I like it or not. (And generally, I like it.) The last couple of years have been really tough, the past year in particular. In the words of my peer (JK) Kylie Jenner, "This is really the year of realizing stuff."

In the spirit of constantly realizing stuff, I'm a huge fan of self-help books. I like mainstream ones, like stuff from Elizabeth Gilbert or Sheryl Sandberg. And I like the wacky new-age-y stuff, too. I read a lot of books about how to use astrology to strengthen your relationships, or how to balance your cosmic energies or tap into your potential by alkalizing your diet, or whatever. I've read The Secret, like, four times.

I don't care if they're dorky, and I really don't care if they're pseudo-science. Nothing I've read has given me any dangerous advice. Most self-help books just tell you to keep a positive attitude or to find peace within yourselves or to work towards specific goals. Whenever I need a real kick-in-the-pants, I grab a new self-help book. (And I read it alone while sipping $2 Miller Lites at Chili's.)

Scrunchies

When you think of scrunchies, you might think of Heathers (one of the greatest movies ever made) or Sex and the City (one of the greatest shows ever made) or the '80s (a decade in which one of the greatest people ever was made [hi!]).

When I think of scrunchies, I think of all of the above, but mostly I just see a literally perfect hair accessory. My hair is thin, damaged, fine, and terrible, so traditional hair ties rip out my precious hair and leave my it weirdly bent out of shape. Scrunchies are the perfect, soft solution for keeping my hair out of face without totally harshing my vibe.

Are they trendy? I don't know. I say they are. They're cute, practical, fun, and downright presidential if you ask me.


Say Yes to the Dress

Here's another TV obsession I feel no shame in loving. Say Yes to the Dress is cheesy and silly and the obvious product of a consumerist society run by the Bridal Industrial Complex and I LOVE IT. I get so emotionally invested in every single episode.

First of all, I love wedding dresses. As much as I look forward to my distant future with a perfect family in our HGTV Dream Home, I really don't harbor wedding-day fantasies. I know I'll have one, but as of now, I don't have any hard or fast plans for it. I only know I probably won't wear white, but don't tell my dad that.

But I love wedding-dress shopping. Wedding dresses are SO fun and pretty. I love lace and beading and full skirts and tulle. Bridal shops are the ultimate combination of all my favorite things, including complimentary champagne and female bonding.

Say Yes to the Dress lets me get my fill of bridal designs while also letting me live vicariously through the show's recurring characters, as well as the shops' customers. I prefer the Atlanta version of SYTTD because I live for Monte, but I love the New York version, too. I'm dying to go to Kleinfeld's, but all of my NYC girlfriends are too busy working on their "careers" to get engaged so that I can have an excuse to look at all those insane Pnina Tornai gowns.

I like the show's commitment to telling diverse stories as well. I've been watching for years, and I've seen them feature the stories of gay women, women of every ethnicity, and women who have survived some seriously traumatizing shit. And then there's, of course, all the brides who are just THE WORST. I love them, too. I love when a 21-year-old bride comes in with her 14 bridesmaids and tries to sass Monte. She's always like, "I have a budget of $4,500," and I'm always like, "Girl do you even know how many Miller Lites you could get at Chili's for that?"