Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has earned a reputation as a site for Mormon housewives, mommy bloggers, and basic white girls. I am a woman of color with a full-time job, I spend less than 30 minutes getting ready in the morning, and I still like Pinterest. Characterizations of the site as a “a churning cycle of interest, hope, inspiration, jealousy, desperation, despair and depression” always irked me because I think Pinterest is a useful bookmarking tool. The site had never made me feel bad about myself.
Then I discovered Pinterest’s “most popular” page, which is essentially a collage of white girls with impossibly great hair, superhuman nail art skills, and apparently enough free time to create a tidy basket of “postpartum supplies” for “every bathroom” in the house. Suddenly I could see where Pinterest got its reputation.
As someone who has defended the site but doesn’t really love Mason jars (though I do own a glue gun), I wondered what would happen if I tried to live according to the stereotype. Would it even be possible? Would it just be a series of Pinterest fails? Would living by the example of a site accused of putting too much pressure on women make me more or less happy?
For one week, I let popular tips from Pinterest dictate almost every aspect of my lifestyle.
– I cooked the most popular recipes.
– I used the most popular hair and makeup tutorials.
– I dressed in the style of the most popular fashion pins (wearing purchased, borrowed, or dug-from-the-box-labeled-“college” clothes).
– I spent my free time crafting, per the most popular DIY pins.
– I kept my home looking Pinterest-perfect using the most popular cleaning and organizing tips.
The pins I used had been repinned anywhere from 300 to 20,000 times and were all similar in style to other popular pins. I did these activities during traditional nonworking, noncommuting hours (so never between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays), plus two full weekend days.
Here are some things that happened — not in order by day, or even everything that happened, because trust me…it was a LONG week.
1. I spent one morning contouring my face. My husband couldn’t tell the difference.
I’ve never bothered with contouring, because there are very few occasions when I need to look like a Kardashian. Plus, as a biracial woman, it’s hard enough for me to find foundation that matches my skin tone, let alone makeup that intentionally doesn’t match my skin tone but then also magically blends together and look likes my skin tone.
After trying this popular tutorial, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I asked my husband what he thought; he stared at me for a long time and then said, “To be honest… I’m not sure I see the difference.” Then: “I mean, your cheekbones look more defined, but that’s really it.” I have no idea if this means I did it right or I did it wrong.
From one angle, I looked sculpted. From another angle, I looked dirty. Then the light hit me just right, and realized I look like a white girl who decided to go as me for Halloween and made the poor decision to darken her skin with makeup.