Generally speaking, Pinterest is a happy place for finding inspiration, recipes, fashion, endless photos of your celebrity obsession, funny memes, and more cute, fluffy animals than you can count. In fact, most people associate Pinterest as being one of the more positive forms of social media.
One of the most popular sections of Pinterest is the Health and Fitness feed where you can find an infinite amount of healthy recipes, tips for well-being, and “fitspiration” (fitness + inspiration). On one hand, I love this part of Pinterest. It motivates you to be healthier and more active, and it gives you millions of ways to do so in one easily accessible place.
But there is a downside to this. Although most of the Health and Fitness pins tend to have good intentions, some of them send the wrong message. A common theme for a H&F pin is a skeleton-thin woman in next-to-no clothes and some sort of “inspirational” quote written across it. The problem is that the women in these photos are usually completely unrealistic and subconsciously send the message that if you don’t look like this, then something is wrong.
And the quotes aren’t always helpful either, saying things like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” or, “Don’t reward yourself with food; you’re not a dog.”
It’s almost contradictory. These pins are preaching being healthy and fit but also saying there is only one way you can be that: by being stick-thin. In reality, there is more than one body type that can qualify as healthy. Similarly, there is no guarantee that someone is healthy just because they’re skinny. They could eat fast food all the time and sit around 24/7 but have a fast metabolism.
These pins send across the same incorrect idea that most of the media today does: being skinny is the best thing you can be. This is the kind of thing that perpetuates eating disorders and other serious body-image issues. If you’re doing good to your body, then why should anything else matter?
There’s another big problem that comes with a feed full of user-generated health advice: probably only 25% of what you see is accurate and from a credible source. I hate to break it to you, but when you see pins about workouts claiming to burn 300 calories in two minutes, that is impossible. Much like how doing 100 jumping jacks before every shower isn’t going to make you thin. And a lot of diet pins are misleading too; cutting out chocolate for a month will not cause you to lose weight if you’re still eating a ton of other crap.
Those pins have the “magic fix” message; and I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing when it comes to health and fitness.
The Health and Fitness Section of Pinterest is a good idea in theory; it’s just not being executed correctly. Unfortunately, this is through no fault of Pinterest, but of the pinners using it. Pinterest doesn’t have any say over what gets pinned; we do. So we need to focus less on body-shaming and constantly judging each other’s bodies, and instead focus on what really qualifies as healthy: eating well, being active, and feeling good about yourself.
Let’s see more pins like that one, eh?
*All pins taken straight from Pinterest’s Health and Fitness section.