Pinterest and Body Image

4.03.2012

Credit: Someone, somewhere in the depths of the Internet.

Hello, my little love muffins! Sorry, it’s been a hot second since I’ve updated. I’m finally settled back into my Ohio home, until I move back to Savannah this summer. All this packing up and moving stuff is wearing me out. I’ve been having multiple panic attacks about my French exam, and I still have no plan B if I don’t pass it with a high-enough score. Be royally screwed, I guess. My super-easy-plan-to-graduate is backfiring on me. I realize that I’m giving up, before I’ve even started the race, but I feel like being dramatic and pessimistic today. Just let me have that.

What I really want to talk about, though, has nothing to do with my silly college problems and more to do with an email that I received from Pinterest about a week and a half ago. It reads:

Updated Terms of Service

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We’d encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.

  • Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
  • We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
  • We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
  • Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

You see the second bullet up there? I even made it bold, just so I can
virtually express how darn happy this makes me. I get on Pinterest way more than I should. I use it to pass the time and to find fun ideas for crafts, parties, food, etc., and I really enjoy it. What I don’t enjoy, however, are photos of rail-thin ladies and men with quotes plastered on the images like, “You can’t be small if you eat it all” or “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Apparently, the trendy name for this is “thinspo”. I’m not going to post any of the related photos on my blog, because I don’t condone self-harm, in any manner, but if you’re overcome by curiosity, Google is all you need. There are some terrifying photos out there, and I get so tired of seeing them on Facebook, Tumblr, IMGfave, and wherever else I happen to stumble upon. They are everywhere.

I don’t have a problem with the fitness inspiration images like this one:
but, it makes my heart hurt when I see girls posting pictures of themselves in their bras and underwear, taken in a mirror, with protruding ribs and hip bones as inspiration for other girls to not eat. Don’t think that guys are excluded, either. This issue with body image is huge, and it affects so many people, male and female. Eating disorders and these kinds of thoughts about one’s body are serious, and our society should encourage them to get help, to get healthy, and to get better. Instead, we offer countless websites and forums where men and women can go to get encouragement to “keep up the good work,” and not in the healthy, get-fit kind of way.

And it’s not like it just stops there. Razor-blade-to-wrist photos often pop up with captions like, “No one understands,” and I have to stop and think to myself, ‘Am I really seeing this?’ It’s terrifying that anyone who has an issue with self-harm in any form of the word can go online and get an audience for it. People re-pin, re-blog, and/or re-post these photos over and over again, and suddenly, we’re bombarded with them, and they end up being “the norm.”

What inspired this post is the email that I received from Pinterest. The one, above, that states no self-harm pins or boards will be tolerated on the site, and to me, that’s a wonderful thing. At least one website has stepped up and basically said, ‘We know that this is unhealthy, and we’re not going to condone it on the website from which we’re making millions of dollars.’ This is a step in the right direction, and even though some may see this as a violation of their freedom of speech – and you know someone will – I’m, personally, happy to spend a few minutes on a website that isn’t constantly telling me that my ribs need to protrude farther or that my abs aren’t hard enough. ‘Oh, you had McDonald’s for lunch? Let us tell you exactly how many calories you consumed and how much time you’ll need to devote to running to burn double that.’ I don’t need that kind of negativity pushed on me and my body from a website that I log onto just to have a little fun. Some people might even be thinking, ‘But Ashley, what is it any business of yours what I post?’ Well, once you put your ‘business’ out into the vast world of the Internet, it’s everyone’s concern, if they care enough about it. We get enough of the “BE SKINNY!” advertising from billboards, magazines, movies, and society in general. Why do we need to have this, too?

I realize that the Internet is full of awful things. We all have the ability to post any single thought at the click of a mouse, and this can be a wonderful thing. On the other hand, it can be toxic to that person and those sharing space with them in online communities. I know that it’s impossible to rid the World Wide Web of all unhealthy, dangerous, or violent content, but I’m glad that Pinterest took the initiative to try, and that gets an ‘A’ in my book. I would much rather spend my time on a site that promotes healthy living/eating and dieting and loving oneself, as opposed to making those who are already self-conscious with their bodies, or current life situations, even more self-conscious.

Kudos to you, Pinterest.

We all have our own insecurities, and without getting too mushy-gushy on you all, like I so often do, I just want you to know that it’s okay to love those insecurities – to embrace them. Having the strength to love and appreciate yourself has a lot more power than those negative images we see every day in society, and this goes for girls AND boys.

Here’s to you all being hot stuff!

xoxoxo
Ash

2 comments :

  • halfwaybetweenthegutter

    I have never understood the reasoning behind ‘thinspo’ or posting images of self-harm online. I know first hand what it’s like to have both an eating disorder and problems with self-harm, and both were very private, shameful things. I’m not a member of Pintrest, but it’s a fantastic move on their part.

    • Ashley

      I thought so, as well. I’m glad that you were able to overcome both experiences, and I can only imagine the bravery you showed.

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