Isn’t Pinterest great? It’s one of the fastest growing social networks in America. For many people, it is literally their life.
They gather recipes, projects, articles, and other informational websites together in an easy to navigate and organized package. It is a place to learn, gain talents, and be entertained. However, there is a trend that is cause for some concern.
A few weeks ago, I found my 12-year-old cousin on Pinterest. I was excited to see the types of things she found interesting and enjoyed. However, when I started scanning her pins, I found a board that really worried me. It was called, “Work out… maybe when I’m older”.
Now, I should tell you a bit about my cousin. She’s one of the best softball pitchers in her region, she is an expert in volleyball, she’s well on her way to being a sports star, and she could definitely take me in a fight.
I also don’t normally mind workout boards because they can contain encouraging information about being healthy and having a positive body image (in fact, a ton of stuff from About-Face is on there).
However, my cousin’s board was full of links and images with captions like: “I will no longer be wishing I had that body I’ve always wanted but instead I will work my ass off literally to get what I want. One pound at a time.”, “3 Moves to Melt Away Your Muffin Top. Fantastic and easy to do!”, and “Don’t be a bloated bride: 10 foods to avoid before the wedding… may need to know this someday.”
In all, there are over 60 pins with captions or links like these ones.
Besides being unhealthy and potentially damaging for my cousin and her board’s followers, spreading this type of message is not the purpose of Pinterest. Pinterest cofounder, Ben Silbermann, stated in 2012, that the site was for “helping people get inspired and live out those aspirations” (for another variation of this mission see this more recent article).
Think about all of those things that you want to do. Think about all of those places you want to go. Think about those people that you look up to or those quotes that you love.
Gather your inspirations in one place so that when you feel like you don’t matter or that you can’t do anything, you’ve a place to go to see your dreams and be inspired. If your feed is flooded with images that degrade women and hurt your sense of worth, then unfollow those boards. You don’t need to subject yourself to that filth.
Instead of pinning what society wants you to look like, pin for a better you. That way, if you’re at the end of your rope, you have a place that you have created to lift you up.
David Pearson is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University in Media arts. He studied media, religion, and gender and how they’re all related. When he’s not writing at www.experimentalcriticism.com, he’s trolling the Internet for discriminatory memes and wondering where the closest pizza place is.