Pinterest. The land of shiny things. The black hole of time, hours passed wistfully soaking up all the pretty. The place where clothes are always fabulous, bodies are always slammin’, and your baking projects always turn out perfectly.
Wanna hear a secret?
Sometimes I hate Pinterest.
Everything is so fucking perfect on Pinterest. Too perfect for a girl like me. I look at all the pretty pictures of toned bodies and flawless makeup and color-coordinated rooms and Marchesa gowns and think, “Well, that’ll never happen,” as I pick the wedgie from my flannel pants and take another slug of my beer. Sometimes I feel like Pinterest is nothing more than a record of all the ways that I fall short as a woman and a person. The clothes I should own. The beauty regiments I should follow. The house I should decorate. The tattoo I should get. The food I should cook. The things I should find funny. The healthy habits I should adapt. Scrolling through Pinterest, looking at all the suggestions for the person I’m supposed to be, I don’t know a person on this earth who could not feel like they come up short in at least one aspect of their life. I certainly can’t. Looking at all my boards, all the pictures of things that I should acquire or steps I should follow or ideas I should act upon…it’s an overwhelming mausoleum of all the things about me that I perceive as not right that I wish I could fix.
In a way, it’s fucking depressing.
And there’s a danger in Pinterest, a deceptive safety that lies nowhere else. As a female in the 18-35 year old demographic, I’m used to being inundated with advertisements attempting to get me to change my behavior in some manner, whether it’s by using their product over another or by joining their weight-loss plan over another. I can see an ad for Chanel in a women’s magazine or a commercial for Victoria’s Secret on tv and not be bothered by their perfection because I’m aware that the bitch had a team a dozen deep in charge of making her look perfect, not to mention the many artists armed with Photoshop and whatever the hell else editing is used to erase even the tiniest speck of imperfection on her body. That shit ain’t real. But there’s a disconnect on Pinterest that doesn’t exist with other media. I think it’s because so many of the pictures appear to be of or submitted by “real” women, there’s a sense of authenticity that doesn’t exist in advertising. If that girl taking the selfie in her bathroom could lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks or dye her hair that perfect shade of cherry-coke red or fashion herself a fabulous dress out of empty bread bags and twist ties then shouldn’t I be able to as well? And there’s also a feeling that because these products and procedures and suggestions are submitted by real women instead of an advertisement, then they must be true and real and right. I can trust them, because a real woman wouldn’t steer me wrong, right? When the reality is that when you have a pool of millions of users, the odds that at least a few of them will submit to advertising, persuasion, and false information are pretty fucking good. And besides, the products being suggested on Pinterest? Are still an advertisement. They’re just an advertisement that the company gets for free from well-meaning woman.
And yet, I keep going back. Everyday I spend a few minutes (sometimes more than a few) in the sadomasochist ritual of pursuing the shiny things, looking at the complex braids that I could wear if I only had waist-length hair or the Finding Nemo-themed nails that I could paint if I only had the skills of a professional artist and no full-time job. It’s like I’m searching for that one magical pin that will turn me into those magical fae women with the glistening skin and the silky hair, if only I could find it. Kyle thinks that the attraction is that Pinterest is constantly changing, always something new, but I have my own theory. I think that in our heart of hearts we spend hours perusing Pinterest because it holds possibility. In its thousands of how-to’s and inspirations and seeming success stories holds the promise of all the answers. The steps to finally loosing the weight that’s stubbornly stuck around. The tips for how to rid yourself of that cellulite that you’re ashamed up. The secret to the perfect handmade craft that will make everyone jealous of your creativity and skills. The recipe that will finally have your family eating healthy instead of the mac and cheese your four year old has eaten every night for the past two months. It’s like we believe that if we sift through all the pins we’ll finally find the keys to unlocking the selves and the lives that we always wanted. The ones in the pictures.
Now, in all fairness, I can’t totally hate on Pinterest. There is actually one way that Pinterest makes me feel really good about myself, an ego boost, if you will. It’s seeing all the pins of women with purple hair with captions like, “Love this, not sure if I have the balls to pull it off, though,” or “Purple hair! Wish I had a job that let me wear this!” Even just seeing all the pins of women with pink and purple hair compared to the distinct lack of women walking around the world with pink and purple hair makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m that woman that they all wish they could be, if only for the color of my hair.
Besides, I’ve actually gotten some really useful ideas and inspirations from Pinterest. Instructions for how to clean my makeup brushes. The inspiration behind my last haircut, which turned out to be the best haircut ever. A recipe for homemade Snickers bars so delicious that Kyle made me sign a legally-binding contract stating that if we ever divorce I still have to make him Snickers bars. (Okay, so that last bit is an exaggeration. But they are really fucking good.) So it’s not like I’ve gotten nothing from Pinterest. But I do feel like Pinterest needs to be handled with a large dose of context and a great deal of caution. Sometimes, when I’m staring hopelessly at the perfect ass that I’ll never have, I have to make myself close the window and walk away lest I lose myself in the perfection that I’ll never be. Because I may not be Pinterest perfect, but I’m pretty fucking awesome.
And I don’t want to lose that.