Literally Pinning Happiness

Pinterest had been suggested to me many times before now… and I’ve tried to get into it many times before now.  As you can see from my Pinterest page I tried it out a couple times (16 total pins since high school) and succeeded in finding a few cool hairstyles, ideas for my new apartment, and pretty yoga pictures.  That was the extent of my experience with Pinterest.  But, I know that many people, especially white upperclass women, are very attached to their pages–my sister, for example, has hundreds of pins on dozens of boards.  She planned her whole wedding on Pinterest and now I’m receiving emails about her “New Apartment” pins.  To her and many others Pinterest is a means to imagine and envision a better wedding, a better apartment, a better life.  It shows Pinterest users that beauty, creativity, and happiness are possible and can become a reality just by investing time and doing-it-yourself.  

The discussion by Wilson and Yochim on “pinning happiness” made me think about what happiness really means to Pinterest users.  Pinning culture clearly encourages “deeply traditional and gendered discourses about women” but what do the pinners believe happiness is (Wilson & Yochim)?  If I literally searched “happiness” on Pinterest would I find images of independent, diverse, empowered women or images of women embracing the “New Domesticity” described by Matchar?  

As it turns out, I got very few images at all. Pinners love quotes… especially by people such as Audrey Hepburn and Christian radio host Nancy Leigh Demoss.  The pins that users found most relevant to tag as “happiness” were largely encouraging quotes that focused on giving oneself to others and acceptance of life as it is. There is a decreased emphasis on career success and wealth and an increased emphasis on the domesticity described by Matchar.  It appears that Pinterest users are fully embracing the New Domesticity and have redefined happiness to include domestic pleasures.  While the tough women who fought for a place in the workforce in the 60’s would probably not have encouraged this definition of happiness from women, the effects of anxiety and postfeminist ideals in the modern world have resulted in a resurgence of traditional female domesticity (Matchar).  Apparently, women are content on Pinterest, exploring their ideals and imagining a reality filled with beauty and love. While I trouble accepting Pinterest culture, I support my sister in her quest for happiness wherever she may find it. Pin on, Pinterest users, and I hope your efforts to make a scary world more beautiful are successful and fulfilling. 

Here’s the link to my “Happiness Board” with more happy quotes:

Matchar, Emily. “The Pull of Domesticity in an Era of Anxiety.” Homeward Bound. 2013. Print.

Matchar, Emily.  “From Angels in the House to Crunchy Domestic Goddesses: The History of ‘Women’s Work’.”  Homeward Bound. 2013. Print.

Wilson, Julie A., Yochim, Emily C. “Pinning Happiness: Affect, Social Media, and Women’s Work.” 2013. Print.


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