I remember reading this quote nearly two years ago in the Wall Street Journal, “There are no more trends. Everything is in style now” and the premise of the article still resounds with me as I re-read it a few days ago – “Most of us dress with our social groups or professions, rather than fashion trends, using clothes to flash messages about who we are”
But I find myself asking, who are my social groups? Who do I let tell me what are the right beautiful clothes to buy, wear, or make? Who decides what styles are beautiful in my closet or house? Increasingly the answer for me, and for others, is social media tools – specifically Pinterest.
What gives? Why am I – someone most concerned at this point with the comfort of yoga pants as I tear down the sidewalk apprehending my escaping toddler – also holding onto the formerly secret guilty pleasure of following a half dozen style blogs each week and enjoying half-hours scanning pinned pictures of clothes I know I won’t buy, let alone wear?
Here are three things I think Pinterest and social media do for beauty at their best:
1. They make it readily accessible. Let’s face it, I can’t go down to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and look at my favorite painting by Marcel Duchamp whenever I want. But I can look at this on the internet when I want as well as see the reinterpretations that others have made. I think this is something Duchamp with his fascinating concept of the “readymade” would really have enjoyed.
2. They promote creativity and DIY ingenue – releasing us from the tyranny of the pre-packaged made-in-China mentality. We can’t always get what we want if it costs $1000 dollars, but as Suburbotypes said in her recent Freshly Pressed post about Pinterest, “f you have glass jars, a glue gun, permanent markers and about 5 hours to kill, damn, you can do just about anything.” It’s possible for us to see the creative things others do reusing and recycling, we might be prompted to do more of the same.
3. They cause us to see Beauty all around us. Whenever I see a picture of a something mundane on Pinterest restyled as a work of art, I can’t help but notice that thing in my life, I become more attuned and receptive to something that I would have formerly ignored. This has had the benefit of literally changing what I see.
And… here are three things I think Pinterest and other social media do for beauty at their worst
1. They turn people into passive observers – Yes, we are often inspired to create something after they’ve seen other’s tutorials (see above #2) However, it also comes at the expense of time spent goggle-eyed over possibilities of creation. I dont think the ratio of “research” to crafting comes out in the favor of crafting most of the time.
2. They create lofty standards which few can achieve – Sure, some people take a look and walk on, but plenty of people can’t. And plenty more have admitted that they feel an impossible pressure to try and make their home, wardrobe, and life as beautiful as what the internet tells them it *should* be. It’s almost impossible to avoid feelings of “I should try harder to be like that” at some point when scrolling through an idealized world of beauty and marketing.
3. They desensitize us to others efforts as well as real genius. Once we’ve seen the beautiful world of Pinterest, it’s easy to compare our own efforts and other crafty creators to real pros. Sometimes, we come up short, and instead of celebrating our own attempts, we decide that we’ve seen plenty of other people do it better. Or we think we can create something just a good as a trained artist.
Thoughts on Pinterest? Want to share your favorite style blogs? I would love to hear more in the comments section!