Women’s Pinterest Obsession May Perpetuate Female Stereotypes

“These cake balls are fantastic!”

“Thanks! I found the recipe on Pinterest.”

How many times do you think you’ve witnessed this exchange in the past year? For those who are not already familiar with Pinterest, it is a fairly new form of social media that allows users to create “pin boards” with categories such as recipes, travel plans and fashion trends. Once the linked pictures are pinned onto one’s board, friends who follow that board will see it on their newsfeed and will have the option to pin it to one of their boards for future reference. It is a great outlet for creativity, entertainment and personal growth.

Although Pinterest might seem like a passive, organizational-type resource, an article published by Mashable.com reported that one third of all women in the United States use it. With a statistic so staggering, it is hard to imagine that women are using this website simply as a way to organize their ideas. As a user of Pinterest, I can confidently say that the wide range of women that I am friends with on the website all share common values and have similar tastes.

The thing is, these women pin more than just “ways to color-code your closet”-they are collectively pinning extremely stereotypical, extraordinarily unattainable images of an ideal life. Beyond the typical “housewife” pastimes of cooking and cleaning, women in their early 20s have entire boards dedicated to their future wedding, future home, and “motivational” images of women who are beautiful and fit. Is this new “sphere” doing more harm than good?

Many little girls start planning their wedding from the time they enter middle school, but the age we live in has allowed any girl with Internet access the ability to catalog an entire fantasy wedding with no basis in reality. Don’t get me wrong; I have one of these boards, but I can’t help but wonder if we are taking the fantastical element just a little too far. Planning one’s wedding may be expected to have some level of fantasy along with it, but this is far from the only ideal that is being taken out of hand.

The most unsettling images that are propelled by the users of Pinterest are the ones detailing fitness goals. Women share thousands of pictures of models and note them as “motivational,” as if just looking at the picture will bully them into eating less. The concept of the “thigh gap”-having thin enough legs that they do not touch-was practically born out of Pinterest’s “motivational” photos. I have seen multiple pins of workouts that claim to help women achieve the thigh gap, and even more pictures of women with thigh gaps. However, it has been proven to be an attribute that one must be genetically predisposed to according to their body alignment, and may not even be achievable for most women, regardless of how fit they are.

Whether planning for an infallible physique or a dream mansion with an in-home movie theater, a vast amount of women using this website are in danger of falling short of their lofty expectations. Fortunately, there are an equal amount of pins out there that help women budget, adopt thrifty DIY techniques, and truly live a healthier, happier lifestyle. Just as it is in life, each user has the choice between choosing a realistic option or idealistic one. My only advice: think before you pin!