RANT: What Pinterest Tells Us About Women — and About Marketers

by Scott Baradell | Social Media


Editor’s note: Comedian Sabrina Jalees is an occasional contributor to Media Orchard.

Pinterest is Facebook for women, right? So why does it leave me feeling so uncomfortable?

The site is made up of pictures. Pictures chosen and posted by Pinterest’s mostly-chick members. Pictures that women find interesting, adorable and/or aspirational. But mostly, pictures that contradict each other in some pretty disturbing ways.

At first glance, Pinterest can pass as a fun collage. But invest in a few scrolls, a dash of critical thinking and an optional shot of tequila and it’ll hit you like a ton of cramps: Pinterest is the visual map of everything wrong with women today.

A Visual Map of What’s Wrong

It’s right there in easy-to-digest, self-published, nearly-words-free format. The reason why your girlfriend threw that plate against the wall when you asked her why she never wears those jeans anymore. It explains why thousands of happy young mothers have Googled the words “backpack Asia with a newborn.” And, in general, the pictorial explanation of Taylor Swift’s overwhelming success with females aged 8 to 88.

I braved the waters of this potentially nervous-breakdown-inducing site to bring you, the readers of Media Orchard, “Everything Wrong with Women Today” —

I’m Fat vs. I’m Hungry

This is a big one (←no, that’s not a jab at your weight). An average Pinterest screen shot will show a delicious, caramel-drizzled cheesecake, followed by Kate Moss’ abs, followed by fresh-outta-the-oven cinnamon buns, next to the caption “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” beside a picture of deep-fried chocolate bars that spell out the words “Treat Yo Self!” I don’t know whether to binge, purge or head to the gym with a donut in my mouth and heavy cream in my water bottle…

To Baby or Not To Baby

Look, it’s an Anne-Geddes-style picture of the pure love a mother feels while holding her adorable baby! Now look over here! It’s all the mountains you would’ve climbed and all the traditional Moroccan belly dances you would’ve choreographed if you didn’t have that diapered-up bundle-o-liability for a sidekick. In case you missed the point, ladies, it’s that you’re missing something — no matter what life you choose.

DIY vs. RIP My Money

It’s hard to tell who’s winning the Picture War on this one but there are clearly two camps: the Thrifty Craft Ladies and the Decadent Fashion Pushers. For every pic posted to rally you into collecting a bushel of sticks and weaving them together with found fabric swatches to create an adorable homemade handbag, there’s a tabloid shot of Gisele Bundchen peddling the perfect $4000 Balenciaga purse. I opted to buy a stack of Balenciaga tags from Chinatown and sew them into everything I own.

The Marketing Chicken Came Before the Egg

It would be easy to dump all the blame for Pinterest’s weirdness and neuroses on my gender — after all, no one is forcing us to post these pictures. But let’s acknowledge one all-important fact:

The Marketing Chicken came before the “Do My Thighs Look Fat?” Eggs.

Magazines, TV ads and the marketing world at large have the power to not only shape our buying habits, but to shape our self-perceptions. And over the past few decades, they have really messed with our heads.

The good news is that Madison Avenue and media companies also have the power to make positive change.

I urge all marketers to stop being chickens. Dig a little deeper. Try something different. Understand and appreciate women beyond the surface, so we aren’t constantly scrambling to meet the unrealistic expectations we are bombarded with daily — by advertisers, and by each other.

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16 thoughts on “RANT: What Pinterest Tells Us About Women — and About Marketers

  1. ItsLillyGeorges

    @SabrinaJalees I couldn’t have agreed with you more, Pinterest is similar to the same site mostly used by teens, “Tumblr.”

  2. Tinu

    @LisaByrne EXACTLY. I have boards about my favorite somecards or travel or books. Which is why I’m not a daily Pinterest user.

  3. dechowitz

    @d_apostrophe I didn’t want to join pinterest for the longest time for the reasons in your article…but now I’m hooked.

  4. AlanaRPrice

    I’m not entirely sure the contradictions on Pinterest represent “everything wrong with women today” so much as the fact that Pinterest is populated by humans and humans are contradictory. Yes, women on Pinterest want to make and eat delicious food, but be skinny too. They want to be excellent mothers who are focused on raising their children, but they want to live fulfilling lives too. This is not isolated to Pinterest and it is not isolated to women.People want to be more successful and achieve more goals but they want to spend more time relaxing and “living in the moment”. Men constantly praise and drool over sexy unrealistic women but wonder why they don’t have girlfriends they can truly connect with. HUMANS have conflicting desires.
    Pinterest is a place for people to share images that represent their desires, their interests, their humor, their fears, and but also look at random non-girly things like <a href=”http://pinterest.com/usbmemorydirect/custom-flash-drives/”>custom flash drives</a>.