“Pinterest Problem”

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Tara L. Conley’s blog “The Pinterest Problem” questions how we can use social media networks, in this case the newly popularized Pinterest, to diminish the cultural problems that exist around sexism and gender stereotypes. Conley notes, “Pinterest, as we know it today, can greatly influence the way we communicate, socialize and organize using visual imagery.” Conley suggests researches explore the question of, “How can we use Pinterest to organize around issues and disseminate messages using visual imagery?”. It is this feature of “visual imagery” that Pinterest brings to the table that I find most interesting when exploring the issues of sexism and gender stereotypes on the internet.

Entering the Pinterest homepage for the first time I have to say it looks very much like Bath and Body Works, Martha Stewart, Say Yes to the Dress and Cosmo threw up all over the front page. It is evident from the home decor, salads, the neat and tiny desserts, beauty and cute animals that Pinterest is geared towards the stereotypical female archetype. The main issue I see with Pinterest is since it is a visual social networking system it has ingrained an even more aggressive visually oriented identity into the women who use this networking site. Advertisers and Corporations have made it big time with Pinterest because women become visually stimulated when they find things that look pretty and can identify part of themselves in that photo. Subconsciously they will begin to consume items that remind them of those pretty feelings they saw on Pinterest all due to the reminder of the visual stimulation they received and the notion that that product is in someways a part of their identity…(can you say CHA-CHING?!).

 Conley points out the controversial Kate Moss photo that was been pinned, and the obvious dangers of promoting unhealthy eating habits in young women.

On the other hand, I want to explore images like this one:

which is suggestion that voluptuous woman are “hotter” than skinner/assumed to be anorexic women. Judging from Keira Knightly’s six pack, I assume she works out and want to know what is so wrong with that? When did being skinny/athletic, become such a bad thing? In an attempt to eradicate and retaliate against images like the Kate Moss photo, new ones are being pinned speaking out against smaller body types creating what I believe to be a battle of the visual appearance of a woman’s body. Since Pinterest has become so visual based of course everyone is going to agree with the more flattering images of the woman on the lower panels due to the fact that whoever made this tried to find the most unflattering photos of the women on the top. Yet looking at this photo of Keira Knightly under the same circumstances as the ladies on the bottom…a photo-shoot…with make up artists…

I really don’t see how she is not as attractive as the women on the bottom panels. Conley points out that Pinterest can be used to “celebrate women’s bodies”, yet I have neglected to see any “celebration” amidst the battle of the body sizes.

Conley: “How can we use Pinterest to organize around issues and disseminate messages using visual imagery?”

A: While looking around the site all I can find are comments like “I must have that” and “hot/not hot”. The only solution I can see to the “Pinterest Problem” is to remove consumer products from the site and create campaigns to pin that celebrate ALL women, or for that matter, ALL humanity, instead of creating more visual images that promote segregation, competition and consumption.

– Bonny M.

  1. Viel T. says:

    I think that Pinterest Problem is not just the consumerism that Bonny has mentioned above, but I think it is the fact that women don’t use Pinterest to celebrate themselves. Instead, this site just makes us more susceptible to domestication. The majority of users on Pinterest are women. Women, to the eyes of businesses, are the key consumers of their products. Apparently, we’re more vulnerable to shopping than men are. In fact, I know a lot of girls who are religious followers of this social media corporation and all they do is pin things that have to do with the domestic sphere, like tackling homegrown issues (i.e. baking, cutting, cleaning, etc) and they’re doing exactly what advertisers want them to do. In fact, we do the advertising for them, don’t we?
    Searching through the Pinterest website, I don’t see a lot of pins that concern social issues about our world. Instead, the Pinterest world, that I know, has immortalized the commandments of how to be female. We have to bake, we have to clean, we have to buy pretty clothing and we have to be visually appealing. This site that was created by men and invested into by men is a great way to make proper women out of us. If you think about it, they have created a social scheme that makes it easier to communicate for us women, because apparently as women we’re too busy to think, produce ideas and to read. What about taking a man’s idea and making it a better world for women? We need to learn how to embrace our womanhood, not just through pinning baking recipes or the latest fashion trend, but to pin about things that make a difference. Forget about consumerism and get into activism.

    To check out Pinterest activism efforts, follow this link:

    Viel T.

    • Amber Kandola says:

      I must admit, before today I had no idea what Pinterest was or how it even worked. After familiarizing myself with the site and reading Conley’s, Bonny’s and Viel’s blogs/responses I have come to some understanding of what the site entails. In my view, I feel like Pinterest is not necessarily a negative thing that reiterates gender differences or domestication of women. Instead, I see it no different than any other social media site such as Facebook, tumblr, or twitter. In some ways Pinterest reminds me of any magazine that can be found while cashing out of a grocery store. Of course, all these aforementioned media sources are targeted to women as consumers, however I don’t see how it is domesticating women and has “immortalized the commandments of how to be female.” Looking through the site it is obvious that the main target is women, and there are many pictures relating to body image, beauty, etc. However, I feel like this site is just a way for women (seeing how they are the main audience) to group together and share their interests – which many may have in common with one another. I see no harm in this. In addition, while going through the images I was able to see inspirational and even political pictures and messages even on the homepage. I must admit pictures are what usually draw me to certain articles, pages, etc. So to have pictures linked to other sites or articles, it is easier to get certain information across. Instead of seeing Pinterest as a problem and riding it of consumerism and “gender stereotypes,” I say we embrace it as it gains the attention of millions of women, and begin to include more meaningful images and messages such as the image Viel posted. So although I understand where the previous bloggers are coming from, I don’t believe the site is as bad as discussed. It is possible to use this site for more than one purpose including consumerism, activism, and enjoyment.

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