I, like millions of other women, spend way too much time on this pesky site. I’m obsessed. Whenever I have down time- waiting for the bus, putting off homework, or waiting for a class to start, I’m scrolling through my home page to see what everyone’s pinning.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pinterest, it’s” a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, “re-pin” images to their own pinboards, or “like” photos.” (Yes, this is the definition from Wikipedia.) I pin to several boards that cover a variety of interests including fashion, food, health, home goods, hair, beauty, etc.
Pinterest is a great place to find wardrobe inspiration, new recipes and DIY projects, but it’s also a great place if you’re looking to lower your self-esteem. Yeah, I said it. As much as I love seeing what’s on trend this season, it’s a constant reminder of all the things I desperately want but can’t have. Whether it’s an unattainable body, a $1,500 dollar Louis Vuitton or ridiculously long hair, everything on Pinterest is disgustingly perfect. Try scrolling through the “Health and Fitness” category without reading an “inspirational” fitness quote next to an image of an extremely tan woman in a sports bra showing off her eight pack. Barf.
Pinterest is not the only culprit; Images and status updates on other social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook could be linked to perpetuating the same unhealthy thoughts on body image. Young girls are constantly exposed to images of sexualized women whether it’s on billboards, magazines, television or the internet. Similar to the impact that advertising has on women, social media can make girls feel like they aren’t beautiful unless they look a certain way or use a certain product. According to psychologytoday.com, “social media presents you with countless opportunities (if not demands) to describe in words or pictures your physical attributes.” We seek approval from others by sharing status updates or photos that shed ourselves in a light that we think is appealing. Similarly, when we see an update that a friend has posted we are quick to compare our lives with his/hers. “Does she have a better job than me? Does he make more money than I do?” These are probably just a few of the questions we have all asked ourselves before.
Based on what I’ve read, very few studies have been conducted to prove there is a significant link between social media and body image. However, I found several articles and blogs on the issue- a few of them are linked above. Based on my own personal experiences and experiences of friends, I think it’s important to be aware of the negative impact that Pinterest and other social media sites can have on one’s self-esteem. A negative self-image is no joke- it can lead to anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
It’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. Let’s be real, I probably won’t ever stop using it because I do get some fabulous ideas from it, but I will have to remind myself to proceed with caution.