on pinterest and body image

Pinterest is kind of like a virtual bulletin board, or collection of borads, rather. Users can “pin” an image from any website to a personal board. The images range from DIY tips (how to make a skirt) to recipes to home decor ideas. The site has been embraced by many, some of whom offer some criticism for its somewhat consumerist culture. Medicinal Marzipan writes:

I worry that Pinterest represents another level to keeping up with the joneses, where someone is sitting in their house wishing for someone else’s life.

I love pinterest, personally. But the idea of coveting things bothers me far less than coveting bodies. Pinterest is a collection of its users’ interests, and a lot of users seem to be interested in weight loss. While there are many healthy images around health and bodies, there are a few that disturb me:

Notice anything missing from that last one? Any mention of food. I looked this recipe up on google and found a few message boards that mentioned instructions to eat “a bit of asparagus.”

I found these images on pinboards titled “health” and “motivation.” Now, pinterest, of course, isn’t the problem. The beauty of pinterest is that its content is entirely user-edited. People are choosing these images as reflections of their beliefs on health and body image. And the above images reflect someone who believes happiness (and health) comes in a size 2.

But lately, I’m seeing some more positive pins.

When people talk about the “obesity epidemic,” there are some undertones that perpetuate the message of a “skinny ideal,” which isn’t healthy. The media tend to equate “fat” with “unhealthy.” And it’s no secret that many unhealthy eating habits cause weight gain. But if fat equals unhealthy, then skinny implicitly equals healthy. (Type “somalia famine” into google image search, and try to tell me that skinny equals healthy — or beauty, for that matter.) One more step down the implication stairway, and you might infer that you can’t be both “fat” and healthy.

We owe it to our friends, our sisters, our aunts, our cousins, our daughters and sons to shift the focus from weight and appearance to health and wellness — to perpetuate a healthy message.

So, I leave you with ultimate response to Kate Moss:


ETA: For more on social media and body image, check out this fantastic post, which focuses on other forms of social media and which eloquently makes the point: “Inspiration can work in many different ways – and only some of them are healthy.”


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