Monday, December 16, 2013

Pinterest: Observations of the Female Creature, Marian Baker

Pinterest: Observations of the Female Creature

Marian Baker

I will be the first to admit that I do not necessarily resemble a typical member of the American female population. Worry not; while I am indeed a teenage girl, I am not overly concerned with my ability to fit in to the teenage feminine cult. In fact, until recently, I was not even aware of any significant differences between me and other females (referred to as such because I currently exist in that awkward stage of life where the distinction betweenwomen and girls is often ambiguous or arbitrary). I owe this epiphany to a website named Pinterest.

For those uninitiated in Pinterest lore or popular online hangouts for females (a fault for which I do not blame you), is a social-networking site that allows registered users to browse through pins, and re-pin these pins onto their own personal boards. In many ways, Pinterest is a lot like a bulletin board, except online. Pins are usually pictures with short descriptions, and when clicked, take the user to the site where the pin originated. As an online bulletin board, the site is actually pretty useful for organizing interesting links or photos in one place, while also allowing you to browse for more. This browsing is the part where the social networking piece comes into play, and therefore where it becomes—interesting.

To register for Pinterest, you usually have to connect through your Facebook account. As a result, most of the pinners whose pins you follow Pinterest imports directly from your Facebook friend list. Wa-la! You now have access to what is, essentially, the bookmark library of almost everyone you have known since kindergarten, and their updates to said list, every time you log in. However, one, very important, tiny exception to this rule exists: for some reason, perhaps marketing, 99.999% of those people will be females.

Before I explain more, I feel I should give some background as to how I personally found Pinterest. I actually came across it in the most unlikely of ways, at least for the 21st century. I read about it in a newspaper. (Yes, a newspaper. Those still exist.)

My first contact with Pinterest was an article on the front page of the Living section, which is actually the only section I read because it has the Readers’ Soapbox and those juicy advice columns. (Seeing that other people have weirder problems than I do is always nice.) Anyway, the article was just a small piece on how some sickeningly-perfect mother-daughter duo found the site useful.

They had a point. I thought Pinterest sounded like a good place to organize all the amazing and cool art pieces I constantly found on the internet. My parents were becoming a little tired of me using all the printer ink when I printed them out to paste on my own bulletin board. Now that I am a college student, I understand: that ink stuff is more expensive than the blood of a virgin collected on the night of the full moon, full retail.

Word to the wise: don’t look that up on Google.

Since it sounded useful, I registered for the site. This is, of course, when I truly began to observe the female subset in its natural habitat. In many ways, Pinterest has given me a new a perspective not only on my peers, but on myself. As follows are my observations from a year in close digital proximity to a species I previously professed to understand.

Observation #1: Girls Like Weddings. They WANT Weddings.

Growing up, I thought weddings were gross. I did not want to get married. (I still don’t.) I even avoided my sister’s Wedding Barbie, so as not to contract its wedding germs. According to my observations on Pinterest, this is severely abnormal for a girl.

One of the most common types of pins I see is wedding-related pins. Wedding dresses, party favors, engagement photo ideas, theme ideas…you name it. Keep in mind, these pins are coming from girls that are not engaged. Or even in a relationship, usually. Maybe not even old enough to think about marriage or even dating. ALL of these girls have wedding boards.

Pictured: A common occurrence on Pinterest. Also: Seven hundred and seventy-six pins.

Men, you have been warned.

I often ask myself, “Why? What does this mean? Is this some sort of primitive female ritual display of dominance?  Or is it just human female nature to want to plan your wedding? If so, am I actually a member of an alien species? Is this a form of porn? What does this say about American consumerism today in relation to post-Cold War females? Who cares?” The only conclusion I can formulate from my observations on Pinterest is that Girls Like Weddings.

Observation #2: Some Girls Like to Plan. No, Really.

This observation actually has much fewer examples, as opposed to Observation #1. Nevertheless, I found it too interesting not to include: some girls REALLY like to plan out their lives.

To cite an extremely specific example, one girl that suppose is my friend on Facebook (Read: acquaintance from 5 years ago that I forgot about) has a board that she likes to pin to named simply “Kids.” On this board, she pins everything from innocent photos of cute babies to the more disturbing “pregnancy tip”-type pins. Now, I know this girl is not pregnant. It seems that this girl is planning her homemaking future, likely at least seven years away, on the internet.

For all to see.

Think about this. This is planning. I suppose that she plans to put these pins to good use, but that “good use” is years and years away. In the meantime, she is making sure she is prepared: she now knows exactly where she can buy a pool raft that allows a pregnant woman to float on her belly, or a baby sock that alerts parents to abnormal breathing patterns.


Oh look, she’s already planning on being a helicopter parent.

Other girls have boards for the job they hope to have, such as “Teacher” or “Pediatric Sports Nutritionist,” complete with checklists and resources for those in the occupation. While I find these much less disturbing than the pregnancy tips, in the meantime, I still don’t know what I’m even going to have for breakfast tomorrow.

Observation #3: Girls Think They Will Make Stuff

Another common type of pin is the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) craft-type or recipe pin. I cannot tell you how often I log in to browse my art pieces and find an explosion of brownie recipes and chevron-print curtain how-tos on my homepage.

In both cases, many girls post such a large number that I know they cannot possibly be making each one. Actually, I don’t think most of these girls know how to operate a glue gun, let alone cook. Why are they posting recipes?

I think it is important to add in this section that mason jars especially titillate these crafty girls. I found this to be quite interesting—apparently those old things my mom used to make us can awful string beans in are actually chic, rustic-inspired canvases for various craft projects.


Alas, I will never understand.

Observation #4: Girls Have a Misplaced Sense of Nostalgia

The old TV sitcom Friends has undoubtedly found new life on PinterestFriends was not a kiddie show; it was clearly intended for more mature audiences. The series began in 1994, the year I was born, and ended in 2004, when I turned ten. However, there is no shortage of girls my age singing its praises on Pinterest. I find this quite baffling, since the series was over long before any of these girls should have flipped away from Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel.

Pins that reflect such nostalgia for this show are often pictures of characters with sentiments like, “No show will ever be better than this,” “Everything I know in life I learned from Friends” (heaven help them), “Joey was the BEST,” or “I miss this show so much!”  written below in the pin description.

Exhibit A.

What gives? Was I the only ten-year-old who didn’t watch adult television? These people could have only seen reruns anyway. In which case, there’s no need for nostalgia. It’s on Netflix.

Observation #5: Girls Like Baseball Pants. Specifically, Men in Baseball Pants.

Maybe I was just naïve, but I always thought that the girls I hung out with in high school were rational, no-frills type girls. Tomboys, like me, I suppose. Consequently, I was surprised when I logged in to Pinterest one day and found my homepage filled with various photographs of shirtless men. Apparently it was Man Candy Monday, and as it turned out, one of my close friends observes this occasion faithfully.

For me, it is a little uncomfortable to find out exactly the type of men your friends are attracted to. It all seems a bit too personal. Alas, Pinterest doesn’t care.
Since Pinterest is mostly a female site, pins of attractive men are not uncommon. Among these pins, one type is extremely popular: men in baseball pants. Girls on Pinterest lose their mind over baseball pants.  

Once again, this confounds me. To me, there is nothing attractive about someone who plays the second most boring sport—after golf, of course.

Typical golf spectator.

These are only a few of my observations. I could go on for hours relating the nuances of the female condition in such a fashion, but not only do I fear the possibility of the Girl Code Police kidnapping me in the middle of the night, I also do not wish to diminish the reader’s faith in humanity any further. Unfortunately, my observations also raise more questions than answers. Perhaps these patterns are an anomaly of human female behavior. Clearly, though I myself am a teenage girl, I have much to learn about my counterparts—so wish me luck.

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