Inside the Confessional of Pinterest

Elizabeth Hanna Pham

Wikipedia describes Pinterest as: “a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more.” You may visit the website here:

But Pinterest is more than that. Like any social media, Pinterest is a place where people can feel a little more comfortable and safe expressing things they might not already express in person. Whether it’s online dating or blogging or chatting—it’s easier to expose the piece of yourself you’re embarrassed about, or the piece of yourself you’re scared might get rejected, if you have the screen to hide behind. And we kneel behind that screen to confess what we’re most scared to confess.

In the case of Pinterest the confession is most frequently:

I want to be a woman.

Let me explain. First of all, the overwhelming majority of Pinterest users are female.

Secondly, these female users “pin” about things that are very much in line with the “traditional” woman, not the modern progressive woman who wants to be seen as no different from a man.

You see, on Pinterest, the women who would generally speak all about their BS degree are pinning as if they’re getting their MRS degree (you might as well assume that every woman on Pinterest is engaged.) The women who swear that they will never be housewives are filling their pages with recipes and cleaning tips. The women who hate the idea of settling down have boards devoted to their dream home, picket fence included. The women who say they want to put off having children can’t seem to resist the cute little girl’s room ideas or the viral pin of the sweet suggestion for how to tell your children the truth about Santa. We say we’re liberated from the sweeping, the cooking, the diaper changing, and the marrying. But Pinterest clearly says otherwise. So what’s the deal? Why the discrepancy?

The problem is, as much as we talk about being liberated from these things, most of us can’t help but want them deep down. We’re just scared that nobody will listen to us if we do. Or that we won’t be accepted. Or we won’t be supported.

Because in the post-feminism era, women are encouraged to go out into the world and do big things to change it—but they are rarely encouraged to stay where they are and do little things to change their world in a big way. We look down on the twenty two year old who doesn’t want to get her masters or doesn’t want to get a corporate job. We look down on the newly married couple who would like to start a family. We look down on the woman who may not travel the world to feed the hungry, but feeds her friends and family with love-infused cookies. Women, nowadays, are supposed to be independent, rich, intellectual, ambitious, and restless. If they don’t happen to be these things, we act like something is wrong with them. And what do they do? Well, they either have to take the heat of being treated like an airhead, or they go on to something that doesn’t fulfill them, and we’re short another wonderful wife and mother. We’re short another beautiful home. We’re short more homemade cookies.

And isn’t this the stuff that means the most to us? The stuff of Pinterest? Our mothers taught us love. They taught us how to love. Motherhood (along with fatherhood) is the only “career choice” that keeps the human race going. The things closest to our hearts, the things that truly make the world go round—they are the things of home and hearth and Christmas and babies and unconditional love—even through the diapers and the spilled milk and the broken ornaments. We don’t want to lose the stuff of Pinterest or we would be a very empty and unhappy world.

So let’s listen to the cries in that confessional.

Sometimes it’s I want to wear pretty dresses. And I like pretty dresses better than this pants suit I have to wear to work.

Sometimes it’s I’m terrified of marriage. Every marriage I’ve ever seen has failed. And every guy I’ve ever dated has failed me and wounded me. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces. But I have this fantasy deep down that I can’t seem to get rid of. So I’m going to plan my dream wedding on here.

Let’s listen to these cries and let’s let them be heard. Mothers and fathers, encourage your daughters. Brothers, encourage your sisters. Boyfriends, fiancés, husbands, encourage your women. And women, encourage each other. Don’t be afraid that you’ll lose your worth. You’ve already got your worth. By suppressing it, you’re merely hiding it from those who would be ready and willing to recognize it (and I promise there are guys out there who would.) We all know how beautiful womanhood is. So don’t be afraid. As most fashionista women know well, there are things that are trends and there are things that are timeless. And the type of womanhood we’re talking about here is one of those timeless things. It may not be popular, but it will always be beautiful and desirable. And if we learn how to let it speak up, outside of Pinterest, we will find much fulfillment.

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