It’s not my world, but it sure looks like it is!

These Pinterest Moms Put Me to Shame

When we sat down over a year ago to make ourselves write (ie: create self-imposed deadlines with a weekly blog) we talked very seriously about our imagined contributions to academia. We would be inspired and brilliant. We would provide insight and context for the wild world of community college instruction. I’m so glad we made room for whatnot because after a day in the Writing Center, I’m tired. It’s like my creative brain is sucked out by outlines and MLA citations. I can barely formulate a sentence worthy of the average freshman comp class, let alone write intelligently about the conflict in Syria or the latest best seller. So this is the junk I read.

Confessions and fair warning: The recommended reading is probably offensive. It’s full of four-letter words and putdowns. But it’s funny. Really funny. Okay, maybe only funny to a woman of a certain age who has no time for crafts or overly considered school supplies or other people’s children.   Check this out: These Pinterest Moms Put Me to Shame

This was basically my introduction to the social networking phenomenon Pintrest. It wasn’t long before the abrasive humor seeped into my brain. I posted a link on my Facebook and waited. My friends commiserated – I felt righteous and relieved. The Bitchin Sisters were right: none of us can keep up.

I don’t frequent Pintrest, but I’m all too familiar with the rat race that is modern parenthood. Much has been written about the damage our image driven world has done to women, young and old. Popular media sells us the same overly polished bill of goods. We’re never as sexy, as slim, or as fit as the billboard or the magazine. We’re always missing the right clothing or the season’s hottest handbag. It’s a game – and it’s one that I learned to play with my eyes wide open: I’ll never look like Gwyneth Paltrow, but that’s obvious. It’s somehow less obvious that the perfectly curated mommy-moments aren’t real.

Pintrest traffics in DIY porn – with enough time and multi-colored duct tape, we can all make our homes look like a Pottery Barn catalogue. Our children will have hummus and animal shaped vegetables at snack time.  Their distressed jeans will never be dirty and their hair will always be gelled.  Or at least I can make it look that way on-line despite the pile of laundry that threatens to engulf me and my iPad.

Maybe it’s helpful to have a beautiful, digital escape, but the perfectly crafted mommy-world of the web is not helping with my struggle for realism and balanced priorities. The Bitchn’ Sisters’ post went viral last month.  It’s all over Facebook and sites like the Huffington Post will make their brand of sarcasm mainstream.  My friends and I are still laughing and parroting the foul captions tagged to melting crayons and personalized chalk boards. It’s great entertainment, but it’s also our only hope for sanity. 

– Sarah

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12 thoughts on “It’s not my world, but it sure looks like it is!

  1. I love this.. I remember some years ago I saw a harried mother with about 5 children in the supermarket..and of her daughters aged 10ish, said something to her like “Martha Stewart serves that kind of dessert” and the mother just turned to her and said “I ain’t no damned Martha Stewart”…. and I have repeated that line to myself numerous times/.. “I ain’t no damned Martha Stewart”…

  2. Maybe…….just maybe you Mothers try too much. A kiss on the cheek and kick on the butt is all that I ever wanted from my Mother………and I got it.

  3. I’m not sure I’m buying this. Check out this article…seemed to be a good response to Pinterest backlash. http://www.sowonderfulsomarvelous.com/2013/06/moms-when-are-you-going-to-learn.html She says it better than I can.

    I disagree that the “mommy-moment isn’t real.” All it is, is a picture. Who said it was a “moment” in the first place? Whatever feeling it evokes, whatever you imply about life outside of the frame is what you bring to the picture. That isn’t the poster’s fault. It isn’t the same as an airbrushed set of abs. We aren’t being tricked. We are letting ourselves be tricked. Learning to really see a picture without assumptions will be a skill our kids will need in this visual media driven world. And, it is a required skill for culling through Pinterest.

    The career world has LinkedIn where they get to boast and create an aura and those of us more inclined in domestic ways get Pinterest. If you want to be disgusted by pride and boasting on Pinterest (and social media), I can get on board with that, but it seems it’s the subject matter of the boasting that you have a problem with. Why can’t domestic skills be celebrated? Why can’t we admit that it is something that not everybody is good at? If it’s okay to have pride about graduating from an Ivy League college, or getting a promotion, or running a race, then why can’t people who have skills in the domestic front get to show off their above average talents too? Should I get down on people who wear Harvard sweatshirts because it makes me feel like it’s one more thing I didn’t accomplish? I threw a badass Harry Potter party and I’m proud. Doesn’t mean you aren’t a badass too.

    • I don’t think that she’s putting people down for having good “domestic skills.” That’s not the point. We’re so focused on doing it all that we compare ourselves to others as a way to see if we’re doing enough. Of course we’re going to find someone else doing something better than we are. At some point we have to draw the line and admit our weaknesses and say enough is enough. This is where that line is for some people. And the pressure isn’t coming from others. It’s really just coming from ourselves…perhaps that’s why we get so defensive.

  4. It seems to me that we spend way too much time comparing ourselves with others and trying to do everything perfectly that we forget to be thankful for what we well.

  5. So, as I think more about this conversation and my ideas about social media in general, I realize I have bigger questions about what our “curated” images have to say about us. How does this new sort of media affect our ideas about self and the roles we play in the larger world? Is it different than traditional print media? Are the effects different? similar?

    There is no doubt that their are some serious skills represented on sites like Pintrest. And the argument is a good one – they aren’t the skills I possess. And unfortunately, I don’t think the culture has been good about finding value in all domestic skills.

    I’m not sure why I sometime feel bad out that…I think it’s wrapped up in image; both self-image and the glossy images the media (crowd-sourced or otherwise) throws at us all.

    • I guess what ruffles my feathers is that, if people feel pressure, and think it “should” be attainable, then they aren’t giving those creative talents the respect, as a skill, that I believe they deserve. I don’t think I “should” be able to play football for the NFL or that I “should” be able to defend a case in front of the Supreme Court. Even though I get dressed everyday, I respect that those who do it well have a skill set I don’t possess. Respect the talents of others. People who post on Pinterest are people who are at the top of their game. Many of them are professionals in these areas of “domesticity.” I don’t look at it as a bar set high, I see it as fast access to a brainstorming session with talented people. It’s up to me to filter the ideas through my own time/energy/money/priorities/reality filter (and that’s where the creativity comes in). It’s a tool. It isn’t about the viewer’s lack as much as the poster’s talent. There are plenty of areas we admire the skills of others (and enjoy seeing them shared (hey, writers!)) with out feeling our own inadequacies are highlighted. Why can’t domestic/creative skills be in that category?

      As for a life surrounding yourself with curated images…I think it’s the age old issue of remembering that peace and happiness come from within. What’s your motivation for being on Pinterest and collecting pins? Is it the eye candy? Is it a skill you are developing? A project you are working on? A dream you have for some day? An escape? The more specific my question, the better I do at not losing focus and for being able to successfully evaluate what I am seeing. If I want to see specifically how to do something and deconstruct an end product that is presented on Pinterest, I can think critically. If I want to imagine another life and fill in what life looks like outside of the frame with whatever assumptions I want, I can and usually, I get lost. I think one leads to personal development and one leads to a feeling of being inadequate. It’s a tool if you want it to be and it’s a form of torture if you let it. Maybe a conference of writers would be the same experience for me. I can write, but I’m not a writer. If I went to a workshop for successful writers, I could feel overwhelmed and inadequate and give myself the impression that all writers are successful and that their talent came easy to them. But, if I actually wanted to learn to be a writer, maybe I could find a workshop to show me the first steps. Or maybe after asking myself what I want to do with my time, I might figure out that I shouldn’t even be hanging out there in the first place.

      I think these computers we have let us look at so much so easily, we have to be really aware of who we are when we stumble into these other worlds.

  6. I like Pinterest. It’s full of fantastic, beautiful ideas. And even though my finished product rarely (never) turns out as well as the photo, my over-inflated self confidence always assures me that it’s even BETTER than the photo simply because it was made by me. And not some other asshole.

    As a side note, SJ, I’d like to have you over some night to enjoy my superior homemade Bloody Mary mix and my above-average hula hooping skills. Perhaps afterwards we can have a foot race. Short distance. No reason, really.

  7. Interesting conversation. I am not a Pinterest lover either. Nor am I very creative (maybe they go hand in hand). But I love that my sister loves it. And I know that if people need someone to truly listen, I can do that. Or if they need something perfected, I’m pretty confident I can do that too. We need all types of women, but we don’t need them all to be good at everything. As far as being okay with that, that has to come from within. As has already been mentioned.

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