Pinterest: The Death Of Feminism?
I was never a creative cook before I found Pinterest. In a pinch, the best I could come up with was chicken seasoned with salt and a side of plain rice. Spices and vegetables were largely absent from my cooking repertoire. So when I began using Pinterest to find and store recipes with more than two ingredients, my taste buds welcomed the change. I became an avid “pinner.”
But according to a recent article on Buzzfeed, by using Pinterest I am doing feminism a disfavor. Why, you ask? Because Pinterest is filled with fantasy weddings, recipes, dream homes, hair and makeup tips, and, worst of all, exercise routines. This spits too much of Mormon housewifery, which is apparently the antithesis of feminism.
Since I don’t want to play any part in the death of feminism, I read the entire article carefully before deciding that on the feminism threat level, Pinterest ranks somewhere between short skirts and shaving our armpits. That is to say, a non-threat.
The critique that Pinterest is anti-feminist because it reflects interest in manicures and cooking saddens me. Criticizing women for having “traditionally feminine” interests amounts to saying that an activity is worthless when it’s feminine, and to me that is the anti-feminist approach. The article doesn’t delve much into this topic, though, because after the first few lines the article set its sights onto a new target: the abundance of “fitspiration” posts on Pinterest.
Fitspiration is the trend of posting images with messages that are meant to motivate you to exercise. It has been criticized as “thinspo in a sports bra.” I agree that some of the messages in the fitspiration pins are problematic. A picture of a thin, toned woman lounging around is no different from the unrealistic ideal we see in magazines just because she happens to have a six pack. There is no purpose to those images other than stirring insecurity and passing it off as inspiration. But for each of those pins, I see many more that can be construed as something more. I see pins that motivate women to move.
I feel that our quest to love our bodies has had one cruel side effect: the demonization of exercise. We encourage ourselves and each other to love our bodies just the way they are, and that’s wonderful. But implying that exercise is somehow anti-feminist because it can potentially change our bodies just adds another cousin to the shaming family: fit-shaming. In a world where women are already shamed for being too fat, too skinny, too sexual, and so on, we shouldn’t be adding more to the list.
I enjoy exercising. And I exercise because I love my body. I love doing something that has no purpose other than getting my body moving and seeing what it’s capable of. Exercise is only problematic when we treat it as a means to an end, as something we just do until we drop a size or lose 10 pounds or look like the model in the picture. This isn’t what exercise should be about. It should be about celebrating everything our bodies are capable of, whatever our shape happens to be. For me, the reward of exercise is the amazement I feel when I realize just how much my body can do, whether that’s having the stamina to dance through forty minutes of cardio or the strength to hike 4,000 feet.
It’s been over 90 years since Virginia Woolf wrote that we need a room of our own. With Pinterest users being overwhelmingly female, I think that at least in the virtual world we’ve claimed a room. We have a space to share what is important to us, and we shouldn’t be ashamed if some of the things that are important to us are traditionally feminine. To the contrary, let’s hold our nail art and our cauliflower pizza crust – for some reason a huge point of contention for the Buzzfeed article – up with pride! But in the interest of keeping Pinterest a non-threat to feminism, let’s promise ourselves one thing: to share content thoughtfully. Before we pin, let’s ask ourselves, does this pin make me happy, or does this pin make me feel inadequate? Let’s weed out the “thinspo in a sports bra” from our room and continue creating a positive space for ourselves.
What do you think about Pinterest and Buzzfeed’s criticism of it? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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