“I’ve been a bad, bad girl…” Fiona Apple croons seductively as she stares into the camera, dressed in a bikini, partially submerged in water at night. In her hit song ‘Criminal’ from the 90’s, she was asking us to grant her some redemption. “I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand, but I keep living this day like the next will never come.” Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Or at least, I had the t-shirt. Must’ve left it somewhere last night…
When was the last time you let your inner ‘Bad Gal RiRi’ out to play? I bet it was a good time. I bet no one got hurt and the memories still make you feel all sexy inside. And I bet you woke up the next day and felt like you had to make up for being bad by being extra ‘specially good. So maybe you drank a green juice with lots of expensive supplements, went to bootcamp or yoga, and repented– I mean, meditated really hard, called your mom, apologized to your ex, stayed off social media and deleted your Tinder app. Good girl, I suppose.
There’s a celeb I follow on Instagram who basically goes through her day, phone in hand. She brings her followers with her through her early morning workout, whilst running errands for the kids and to whatever TV show work she’s doing, ending with her pre-bed roundup confessional. This is where she fesses up to the ‘bad’ things she did that ruined her day. Yesterday it was having shared an ice cream after dinner with friends– but it was “okay” because she had been “good all day” until then. The subtle part that stood out to me was how big her smile was when she talked about the ice cream. It was so much happier than she had looked all day. Maybe it was the sugar high, or maybe it was because sometimes it just feels good to be bad.
I realize it’s important to draw a distinction between being bad and doing something wrong. I’m not saying we should all go giving in to every impulse we have, i.e. stealing other people’s cars and husbands, drinking till we black out and then waking up next to someone we don’t recognize. This isn’t our authentic true self. This kind of behavior causes us (and probably a lot of other people) harm, and isn’t the kind of “bad girl” anyone truly wants to be.
I am talking about the number we women pull on ourselves from the minute we wake up till we hit the pillow at night. I’m talking about the score sheet– that poster board with the gold stars and green monster stickers that sits on the fridge in our minds eye, keeping a tally of every single thing we do: Woke up, meditated, drank four glasses of water and went to yoga = gold star! Got to work late, had two coffees, a doughnut, got angry in traffic and gave someone the finger = lose a star + drink a green juice as repentance.
Having lived in many different parts of the world I would have to say this is a mostly North American phenomenon. I’ve never heard of a European woman berating herself for enjoying a glass of wine and some carbs, skipping a workout, taking a two-hour lunch, a late dinner and getting a lot of sleep. In North America many of these things we only allow ourselves to do on vacation or as the precursor to an aggressive juice cleanse. And usually that juice cleanse ends up happening when we get back from vacation anyway– because we need to pay the piper for allowing ourselves to be so very “bad.”
We all have those days where we begin with the best of intentions to work out and finish writing an article, but then the phone rings and a friend stops by, and suddenly we find ourselves at the bottom of an entire bottle of prosecco, an empty pizza box and a whole season of The 100 on Netflix in… I mean, it can’t just be me, right?
The problem isn’t in the behavior. The problem is in thinking that there’s a problem. Somehow we’ve come to confuse the definition of being “bad.” Sometimes, like our girl RiRi shows us, it just feels good to be bad. And sometimes, as in Fiona’s case, being bad feels just plain bad. If there is something you know you are truly, deeply going to regret doing then you should probably walk away and not wait to regret it in the morning. But if it’s something you find yourself constantly trying to justify because you really, really want to, then it’s probably a good bad. And I say go for it.
Whether its indulging in an expensive bottle of wine with yourself at night, having breakfast in bed over the gym, or taking a long lunch break and a too-expensive day at the spa, have fun, relish in it, and live! Bringing a little more bad might make you feel good. Nobody needs to know– it can be our little secret.