The pinterest problem

I admit it. Just like every other 20-35 year old female, I am addicted to Pinterest. I love scrolling through pictures of far-off places, delicious recipes, ingenious crafts, and inspiring photography. It’s great. It’s like a mini vacation – traveling the world, going on a shopping spree, or baking a beautifully complicated cake without the commitment (or the mess) – all on my lunch break. But there is something horribly, horribly wrong with Pinterest. I recently pinned this gem, which I thought was quite hilarious:

Yeah, ha ha, so true. But then I started to think about it. I went to my main pinterest “feed” I’ll call it – the collection of recently pinned items I see when I log on to the site, and decided to do a little critical examination. Here’s what I found: all of my peers want to be more fit, thinner, more attractive, thinner, more stylish, thinner, more creative, thinner, healthier, thinner, more well traveled, thinner, more domestic, thinner, happier, artsier, prettier, thinner. They want to plan the perfect wedding, live in the perfect dream house, wear the perfect outfit, and have the perfect body. The whole message of pinterest is self-improvement. I can’t even count the number of “blast 1000 calories!” workout plans or “skinny brownies!” recipes I’ve seen since joining the site. While I love self-improvement (as I mentioned in my New Years post), I think the message can be unhealthy and excessive. Especially when you see thing like this:

Why do I have a problem with these? (Hint: it’s not just because they have improper grammar #you’re). I have a problem because the message is this: you are not okay the way you are – change yourself, and you’ll be better. Pinterest does not acknowledge the beauty of imperfection (or the impossibility of perfection). It doesn’t help that the majority of pins that claim to be “fitspo” feature pictures of women who probably work out for a living and have an eating disorder on the side. Yes, they may have incredible muscle tone, but the complete absence of fat and the insane hip-to-waist ratios give users impractical and unnatural expectations for how they should look.

What’s even worse? This isn’t really a Pinterest problem. This is a society problem. Pinterest is only a reflection of the values and interests of its users. In fact, the site just recently blocked “thinspo” posts, claiming they portrayed eating disorders and unhealthy bodies in a positive light, and were ultimately harmful to users.

As a former ballerina, dance team girl, aerobics instructor, and Sociology major, the fact that our society has such a warped body image has been beaten into me. “Learn to love yourself just as you are, not the socially constructed version of what you want to become” is a message that gets old. It’s so cliché. Love yourself – everyone’s heard it a million times. But it seems that nobody really listens, because we’re all running in the opposite direction.



  1. Such an insightful post, Sarah!

  2. Sarah, I like reading this post. You are very right about how harshly women view themselves and I just want to tell you how proud I am of you! You are such a BEAUTIFUL woman in every sense of the word. Never doubt that.

  3. Pingback: Happy V-Day! « Sarah Catherine Hanson

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