self control

25 Famous Women on Their Guilty Pleasures

“A slice of American cheese.” – Martha Stewart Photo: Getty Images

It’s one thing to indulge in classic guilty pleasures, like enjoying a piece of dark chocolate before bed, but some extravagances take guilty pleasures to an entirely different level — and they’re all well worth it. Below, 25 creative women including Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Martha Stewart share indulgences that they simply can’t turn down — everything from highly original nighttime snacks and lavish beauty regimens to rom-coms and buying … mansions. And as a bonus: See how many have gotten sucked into the hypnotizing, all-consuming, high-drama vortex of reality TV. (You’re not alone!)

Betty White

“I don’t eat a proper diet. Lunch is usually a hot dog and French fries, or something equally devilish. Red Whips are my curse.” – Bon Appetit, April 2014

Donatella Versace

“Spending a patrimony on beauty creams! I just love beauty products. My favourite colour? Blonde, naturally.” – i-D, February 2014

Bryce Dallas Howard

Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I had never watched it, and then when I was super-pregnant I was overdue and I actually had a pretty bad injury and I got put on bed rest and I couldn’t move. And I asked my friends, ‘What should I do?’ Because I just wanted to be productive. They’re like, ‘Listen, you got a 5-year-old running around, on bed rest, you just need to do what you want to do most. What is that? Do you want to read magazines? Like what do you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘I just want to watch the Kardashians, I never watched it before! I just really want to see what this is all about.’ And I have since watched every single episode. I love it … I love it.” – The Huffington Post, May 2013

Taraji P. Henson

“Watching ratchet, ratchet television — like any of the Real Housewives shows, especially when they were fighting and a girl got her weave snatched out — that is my guilty pleasure. Sometimes, I’ll just sit in front of the TV, screaming, ‘Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet! Where’s the ratchet TV?’” – Ebony, September 2014

Anne Lamott

“My guiltiest secret is that every Thursday, I buy People magazine, Us Weekly, and The National Enquirer. If anyone asks about this, I will lie and maintain that I just said it to be funny. If people call when I am reading The Enquirer, I say, ‘Oh, lah de dah, I’m just lying here reading the new New Yorker.’” – The New York Times, November 2012

Martha Stewart

“My guilty pleasure is not at all interesting: It’s a spoon of really good organic peanut butter, or a slice of American cheese from my housekeeper’s drawer. I steal American slices sometimes — in the plastic, it’s so horrible. But it’s such a good snack. I eat pickled herring as a late-night snack before I go to bed because it’s savory and good. I like liverwurst, and I know how bad it is now. I love squeezing it out of the tube and just eating calves’ liverwurst.” – Town & Country, June 2017

Roxane Gay

“I watch Law & Order: SVU over and over. I’ve seen most of the show’s episodes at least … 20 times each. I suppose I should be embarrassed about this but I am not. I love a good procedural drama and the range of Mariska Hargitay’s haircuts.” – Entertainment Weekly, January 2017

Rachel Bilson

“My guilty pleasure is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. And I’m obsessed with cereal.” – Women’s Health UK, March 2013

Oprah Winfrey

“Bathing is my hobby. I love creating bathing experiences — bath gels, bubbles, crystals, salts, lavender milks … I go prune. I go waaaay prune. I’ve gone to sleep.” – Harper’s Bazaar, October 2012

Gwyneth Paltrow

“My one light American Spirit that I smoke once a week, on Saturday night.” – Harper’s Bazaar, May 2013

Serena Williams

“I have the weirdest one. It’s property. [Laughs.] Yeah, that’s really random … I don’t sell a lot. And when I do, I regret it. Ugh, I am still regretting that one sell … it was on the water … in Florida … what was I thinking?” – Kneading Dough, July 2017

Christina Tosi

“Um, I’ve got an arsenal but I’ll try to edit it down: cake mix/batter, raw brownie batter, or just slightly warmed in the microwave, underbaked cookie dough, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in bed, with or without French fries dipped in it, graham crackers layered with canned funfetti frosting, or just a spoon of frosting.” – Gotham, April 2011

Iris Apfel

“Caviar used to be my drug of choice, but since my husband is on a no-salt diet, I’ve kind of given it up. I still have dreams of sitting down and gorging, though. I love it with a good vodka; I don’t like it with champagne.” – Harper’s Bazaar, March 2015


On what makes her laugh the hardest: The Real Housewives of Atlanta, hands-down … I watch it religiously, and I am in stitches the whole time … I was just having a conversation with someone about The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and I was saying how I love that show and think it’s so brilliant because it’s the woman that was represented in my childhood in Houston. It makes me feel so at home.” – Interview, January 2017

Fran Lebowitz

“[I read] pretty much all the time. Especially if I’m supposed to be doing something else. I was very frequently punished for reading as a child because I was reading when I was supposed to be doing homework. I got in trouble in school for reading, I got in trouble at home for reading. My mother would actually bang on my door and say, ‘I know you’re reading in there!’ In my adult life, I’ve gotten in trouble for reading because I’m not writing when I’m reading. So it’s really rare that reading is unaccompanied by guilt for me. But I’ve learned to live with it. I feel guilty pretty much all the time. The only time I read without feeling guilty is on a plane, because what else could I possibly be doing?” – The New York Times, March 2017

Tina Fey

“I was on maternity leave for about nine days. You watch different stuff because you’re up nursing in the middle of the night, and you watch Extreme Couponing and Cake Boss. You know your maternity leave is about to end when you’re like, ‘Oh, I’ve seen this Cake Boss.’ … I’m a little worried about the Real Housewives franchise. I don’t want them to fight all the time. I just want to see their weird houses.” – Rock Center with Brian Williams, November 2011

Eva Chen

“Young adult books like The Hunger Games. I am addicted. People can’t write them fast enough!” – E! News, December 2013

Isla Fisher

“Following Justin Bieber on Instagram.” – The Guardian, July 2016

Maya Angelou

On the hardest thing to moderate: “It might be cream. And butter. It might be wine? I do like wine a lot. My New York friends are so sophisticated, they said I couldn’t have a wine cellar cause I didn’t have a basement. So I built a little house outside, near the greenhouse, and I call it the West Wine Wing. [Laughs.]” – Time Out, February 2011

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Between the ages of 13 and 16, I must have read a thousand [Mills & Boon romance books]. Some had risqué covers, where the woman was showing more breast. I thought they were fun. But when I look back now, I realise there was a lot of misogyny … We live in an age where, if you write a love story, it has to be ironic or have a twist. But I just wanted to write an old-fashioned romance.” – The Telegraph, April 2013

NeNe Leakes

“I’m a big potato-chip girl. I don’t like chocolate and cakes and all that, but I have to have my potato chips. I’ve got bags in the back of my car right now! But I never beat myself up about it, because, look: You can’t give up every damn thing. You need something in your life that you like just because you like it!” – Glamour, October 2012

Ina Garten

“I’m often asked what my guilty pleasures are and I have to admit that really good bread and butter is definitely on the list. When I want to treat myself, I go online and order a huge crusty loaf of sourdough bread from Poilane, the best bakery in Paris.

It’s enormous — it weighs about four pounds! — it’s made in their wood-burning ovens, and they FedEx it almost daily right to your door. When it arrives, I cut the loaf in quarters and freeze some for later. Poilane’s bread is dense and flavorful and it’s as good toasted with butter and jam as it is sliced for sandwiches or grilled for bruschetta. Of all the gifts I’ve ever given, a loaf of fresh bread shipped from Poilane was definitely everyone’s favorite! The raisin and walnut breads are also amazing? It’s like a trip to Paris without the jet lag!” – her Facebook, March 2013

Jenna Lyons

“Full cartons of ice cream with a tequila chaser.”’ – Kotur, November 2011

Evan Rachel Wood

“Massages. I have to do it. I carry so much stuff around in my bag that massages are the one thing I will totally splurge on. I think body work is so important because it can ease your pain and your stress levels. Even when I travel, I’ll find a place to go wherever I’m staying.” – Allure, April 2013

Amy Poehler

On her guilty diner pleasure

“Isn’t everything in a diner a guilty pleasure unless it’s a small bowl of cottage cheese? [Laughs.] Grilled cheese. Chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese. New York is perfect for that. I like to sneak into a diner and grab a bowl of soup and a sandwich and read the newspaper.” – Gotham, February 2011

25 Famous Women on Their Guilty Pleasures