I Almost Like Pinterest

Biotin for hair and nails at Pinterest

Who knew??? Pinner said: This is the secret to my clear skin!!! Been taking it since I was 16! Biotin makes hair and nails grow fast and thick. It’s good for your skin and gives it a pseudo-tan glow all year long. It also helps prevent grays and hair loss.

In pins like this, Pinterest promises a democratization of youthful beauty. Of the kind of beauty usually limited to strategically posed, impressively photoshopped celebrities. Here, biotin smacks of Victoria Secret models’ long tousled tresses, and poolside-lounging, smartly accessorized bodies and backdrops – and the requisite wealth and leisure to maintain such vanities.

Maybe Pinterest makes good on its promises. It’s reasonable to think the beauty industry wouldn’t want us to know that coconut oil might be a better balm than costly cleansers and creams, or that egg whites could top high-end hair treatments. Kind of like the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want us to recognize that careful eating and exercise might heal our bodies and minds better than a cascade of cooperating prescriptions.

I like learning from Pinterest’s many creative homemakers, homesteaders, crafters, educators. I now make my own economical, environmentally-friendly laundry detergent. I’m braiding strips of old tshirts to make rugs. The Nutella popsicles recently popular on foodie boards are fabulous.

But can I really like a site that showcases miracle weight loss tonics, bizarrely detailed nail art, and so many recipes that include powdered ranch dressing packets?

Alongside beauty treatments and DIY tutorials, Pinterest regularly promises low cost, minimal effort, assuredly amazing recipes. Pinners write, “Seriously, this is the best recipe!!!” But can I trust people who frequently repin the recipe caramel apple snickers salad? Some write, “Another pinner says . . . This is the best recipe ever!!!” But what kind of hedging is this? It’s like cautiously venturing, “it is said that this is the best recipe ever.”  But with lots of exclamation points. At Pinterest, an excited disembodied voice makes claims.

Because no one is responsible for the claims, there isn’t a truth or untruth to them. Which is convenient if you’re asking people to buy into a collection of, well, astoundingly impressive promises.

Pinterest sells easy instant wins. It works not unlike a lottery in that pins depend on our willingness to wait for miracles. Or to pursue miraculous ends later. We want to win, we want immediate results . . . but we’ll wait for them. This is why Pinners love fitness inspiration boards. Their rationale is in the pin: “pin now, read later. I’ll be glad I did.”

Pinterest is all about hope. Or delay. Or community. Or disclaimer. Or disillusionment. Or democracy. I almost like it.

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4 thoughts on “I Almost Like Pinterest

  1. I love your writing so much! ‘Cascade of cooperating prescriptions’ and ‘a disembodied voice makes claims’ are particular favorites.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I hated Pinterest at first, until I started following “select” people and weeding out the tattoo pictures with the tattoo lovers/haters fights, the “how to pray for your husband” charts, the way-too-matchy-matchy home décor, the huge beautiful glass urn with spigot turned into a laundry detergent dispenser, and etc. I have to say, most of the time I find it pretty inspiring and I have found some great information that I’m pretty sure I never would have found otherwise.

    One thing for sure: I do love your blog!

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