Anyone who knows me can verify that I hate Pinterest. I’ll admit, the arguments supporting my distaste for “repinning” or whatever the fuck it is people do on there are a little hard to follow. In conversation, my justifications are usually expressed as “grumble grumble Patriarchy, grumble Flax Seed Granola, rage rage Shitty Wedding Favours, etc” so it’s probably difficult to take me seriously. But I am serious. Dead, actually. Today I sat down made an effort to articulate with some degree of cohesion why you won’t find me on Pinterest until someone tans my hide and turns me into DIY candle holders (don’t rule it out; taxidermy’s making a comeback).
The reasons I can’t stand Pinterest are varied but I generally base them on two reasonably accurate assumptions. The first is that the majority of Pinterest users are women and the second is that the majority of pins are about, as follows: diet/exercise, makeup/clothes, crafting, “inspiration” for when you fall off the wagon, weddings, and home decor. If the correlation between those things isn’t enough for you to wonder if we’ve gone back to 1950s midwest America, that’s ok! I’m going to break it down for you anyway.
A caveat about CRAFTS, ok? Crafts are swell and I can’t disparage anyone’s hobbies but they are very seldom “cost-effective alternatives” when you’re stuck for a gift. Who has 51 Mason jars and a closet full of “left over” ribbon lying around? Not you. Stop kidding yourself, realize you won’t ever make these things, and sign on to Etsy where you’ll find an artist who is really, genuinely good at making picture frames out of driftwood, glitter, and the hair from your shower drain or whatever it is you’re trying to do. You’ll support someone’s passion, get a well-crafted item, and spend pretty much the same amount of money.
2. Self Image.
I spend a lot of my time railing against what people think women should do with their bodies and Pinterest is rife with girls coveting the constituent parts of other girls via repin captions like “want this,” “must have,” etc: their ombré hair, their clever tattoos, their Adele eyeliner, their “beach-ready” glutes — all great things in theory but problematic in presentation. I know Kindergarten told us that sharing is caring but can we imagine for a second that sharing these unrealistic expectations with each other might be dangerous? Failing to fall in line with Pinterest’s brand of chiffon-clad, braided-updo wearing femininity marks one as “other,” as “abnormal” and implicitly inferior. As the women of Pinterest converge en mass on trends, they proclaim loudly, “this is what women are and we are legion” subsequently creating an homogenized class of ladies who all look the fucking same. Why not see something you like on the internet and then go out, find it, and put it on your body the way it was meant to be seen instead of contributing fragments of femininity to the woman-factory hive mind? I’ll be real, I like lipstick as much as the next guy but fashion is performance, not identity. You put it on, and take it off, and all the while have to deal with the devastating fact that underneath, you’re just you. Ladies, for the love of Christ, please stop shortchanging yourself by treating your body like you can pick it out from Build-a-Bear.
3. Inspirational Crap.
Anyone who has ever had an awkward third-cousin on Facebook who incessantly shares outdated memes or weird quotes tenuously supporting their varied neuroses knows that that shit gets annoying fast. Personally, I don’t feel the need to obliquely alert the world whenever I’m having a hard time but life is crummy sometimes and people draw inspiration from unusual places. That said, can we start employing logic while discerning what is or is not inspirational? Just because it’s written over a stock photo of a sunset doesn’t make it necessarily true or valuable.
For example, statements like “[t]hings work out best for those who make the best of how things work out” (Josh Wooden—who is a soccer player, by the way) don’t really say anything, when you think about it. Similarly it follows that “the best cookies are baked by baking cookies” and/or “you can only do things by doing things!” Cool. Great. Thank you for clearing that up. Furthermore, why is this bland declaration written over a picture of a polar bear? Who knows! Listen, when you pin something like that to your board of “inspiring quotes” I assume:
A) You don’t think much.
B) You have a hard time handling life’s curve balls and might come unhinged at any moment.
C) You would rather delude yourself with placating truisms than take a reasonable, critical approach to dealing with your problems.
D) I don’t want to know you.
4. Repository for Broken Dreams.
Is there anything sadder than an unmarried woman’s scrapbook of wedding plans? Never forget that you are always one surprise karma-fuck away from becoming her. Is there anything scarier than your brand new girlfriend making a collage of engagement rings from Tiffany & Co.? Maybe there is, but you’d be a better guy/gal/undecided other than most of the ones I know. Even if you get through life’s brambles and bullshit unscathed and are unusually lucky in matters of the heart, I should let you know also that there’s a strong chance you’re not getting married in Alexander McQueen. Sorry. From what I can ascertain, Pinterest is where people collect their most unreasonable expectations and put them on display for others to either sneer at or adopt. Both are bad and I’m not into actively reminding myself of the soul-crushing disparity between reality and fantasy or the things I planned for but was unexpectedly denied — be they weddings or apartments.
Point by point, those are my Pinterest grievances and they’re petty, maybe, sure, but it’s how they slot into my broader understanding of womanhood that really fuels my rage. Let’s take a step back to the end of the 18th century and check in with Mary Wollstonecraft. In Chapter Four of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she makes the persuasive argument that women and men are equally capable of reason and intelligence. Pause for a second while you’re out voting, and owning property, and wearing pants and consider that this was a revolutionary concept at the time: people- — both men and women — believed that the female brain was not wired for higher thought. Wollstonecraft suggests that the reason this appears to be the case is because women are improperly educated, that “understanding, strictly speaking, has been denied to [them]” through the forced acquisition of trivial skills like needlepoint, painting, and ornamentation in lieu of cultivating the ability to think. Contemporaneously, these skills were pushed on girls to make them suitable for marriage which was their only shot at “success” at a time when they were essentially property. Going all Marxist before Marx was even a thing, Wollstonecraft states that women are distracted with these inferior pursuits so that they remain complacent and firmly under the thumb of the male ruling class. These coquettish and “accomplished” ladies were powerless, separated from being Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables only by a permeable membrane of luck and mercy. Keep this in mind when you fill a day pinning Michael Kors bags and the 101 best ways to recycle your old T-shirts. Remember all those long-dead bombshells with great hair and sunny dispositions, who made things for people, and were careful about what they ate, and remember how they could have done so much better.