I have a whole mess of friends who absolutely love Pinterest. For those who have never heard of it, it is a image heavy internet bookmarking service and social network. You find things you like on the internet, and bookmark it by ‘pinning’* it. You select a representative image from your link, and select which pinboard you will put it on. You visit your homepage on Pinterest to see all the things you and your friends have pinned. So far, it’s great. Love it. I’ve found delicious recipes, and a few things that have helped me parent my kids. Which is fantastic.
The trouble comes from visiting the “everything” board; the board that shows what everyone (not just your friends) is pinning. It is tempting, when I have five minutes to waste before I need to go pick up my kid from school, to browse through this board. For the most part it is rather innocuous, much like browsing through a Better Homes and Gardens-type magazine. I’ve found though, that as I’ve spent time looking at beautiful pictures of enormous bathrooms, and very fancy staircases that my satisfaction with my own house is lessened. My commitment to living not only frugally, but also simply and compactly is put to the test when I think about the mansions pictured there. I don’t think it’s good for me. But that isn’t the worst part.
I suppose I’ve constructed for myself a happy little bubble of feminism wherein slut-shaming, body-hate, and other symptoms of misogyny are heavily regulated. I haven’t read fashion magazines in years, and I’ve been TV free since college. The only media I consume is often what I actively seek out.
Browsing through the ‘everything’ board on Pinterest has shattered my little bubble. Sure there isn’t a *ton* of this sort of negative content, but I find myself continually surprised at it’s prevalence. Perhaps I’m just naive, but I had thought that most women knew that looking at altered pictures of unrealistic bodies is not only unhelpful, but actually *bad* for your psyche. I hope that I’m not the naive one here. For example I suspect that many of the women ‘re-pinnning’ pro-anorexia rhetoric are unaware that such a thing as “pro-anorexia” even exists. I also don’t think that the people sharing these images and quotes are doing so maliciously, but just because one doesn’t realize that their behavior is damaging doesn’t make it okay.
In some ways I’m glad to find some examples of misogyny or other problematic thinking to dissect and analyze. And it is probably good for me to venture out of my happy little bubble so that I can remember that there are lots and lots of people who see the world differently than I do. I’m a little unsure what I want to do about my discomfort. Avoid it? Work through it? Fight what is causing it? I don’t know yet.
Are you on pinterest, and if so what do you think about it? How do you deal with unwelcome or negative media?
*Am I the only one who thinks of that “Let’s put a pin in it!” guy from Bolt every time I hear this?
Here are some of the problematic images that I have found over the past few days. Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and some comments on why I find it problematic.