“pinterest perfect”

May 6th, 2014   |   InspireThink About It


I’ve had this Pinterest picture bookmarked for several months. I knew I wanted to talk about it, but didn’t quite have the message yet.

However, in this Thursday’s episode of The Lively Show, I talk with Erin Gates of Elements of Style and she said the exact phrase that explains this image perfectly:

“Pinterest Perfect.”

The reason I originally pinned it is because I think this image says a lot about social media, particularly Instagram and Pinterest.

When we look at the image we might think,

“Oh, what a pretty photo.”

Or, “Oh, what a pretty photo. Those girls are very pretty.”

Or, “Oh, what a pretty photo. Those girls are very pretty. I could never pull off the cut of that swimsuit.”

Or, “Oh, what a pretty photo. Those girls are very pretty. I could never pull off the cut of that swimsuit and I’ve never been that happy at the beach. I don’t measure up.”

Depending on the day – or our personality – this image could be a nice piece of inspiration or something that adds to feelings of inadequacy.  

But when you take a second look it hits you:


This is a photo of a girl videotaping another girl wearing a blazer on a beach jumping up and down like she’s just won the lottery.


This is what a lot (but not all) of social media can feel like.

One the one hand we have reality: the girl in the black suit who looks pretty, is pleasantly happy, and wearing appropriate beach clothing.

And on the other hand we have social media: a girl wearing a black blazer on a presumably hot and sandy beach jumping as if she has never been happier in her life.

Will this unrealistic image make for good pins on social media?


In fact, this exact image has over 4,100 notes and shares.

Even though the image isn’t based on a realistic day at the beach, it gets tons of shares in social media.

Probably more than if the two girls were just walking along together sans blazer and euphoric jumping jacks.

Which is why the photo was made in the first place. And why much of the most popular content on Pinterest and Instagram is so curated and beautiful.

Of course there are also many realistic and popular aspects of social media, too. But those aren’t the parts that bum us out and make us feel like we don’t measure up.

So perhaps the next time we find an image of a recipe, home, outfit, or trip that looks too good to be true, we can just see it for what it is:

A pretty picture of a girl wearing a blazer at the beach.

Not reality, but fun to look at.


PS – Like this post? Check out The Lively Show episode with Erin Gates of Elements of Style that inspired it!


photo via


Follow by email and get the
for free

  • : )

  • Pingback: reviewfurniture » Honor Roll()

  • Cariemay

    It’s a very fine line isn’t it, between wanting to be the very best version of yourself, and going so far that reality gets left behind. Though I’ll admit my first thought was along the lines of “she can’t be getting very much of her friend in shot” and that’s a whole nother level of unreality!

  • France Aspiration

    Superbe ! Et très drôle !
    Nous reviendrons, alors à bientôt !

    France Aspiration – http://www.france-aspiration.com/

  • I know! Right? I’ve been thinking about that crazy camera angle, too! : )

  • That’s great to hear!

  • Pingback: Love List May 14, 2014 | Stardust()

  • Well said, Emma!

  • Pingback: Speak Louder? | Pray, Live, Create()

  • Pingback: Hautelinks: Week of 5/22/14 – College Fashion()

  • Pingback: Hautelinks: Week of 5/22/14 |Parkkar Lifestyles and News()

  • Pingback: Weekend Links / OneEmma Lou Designs()

  • Heather

    The whole ‘pinterest perfect’ conversation definitely has it’s place. But this photo is from a J Crew catalogue. It was styled by a team of professionals and put together… to sell bathing suits, blazers, and a lifestyle… by a retail outlet.

    I think the more important point is that the Pinterest users who try to attain ‘pinterest perfect’ status are forcing themselves to meet and maintain the level of perfection (which is really just professionalism), but in everyday things.

    Is there any reason the you should beat your self up because your one year old’s birthday doesn’t look like those on Pinterest – Pinned from Martha Stewart? No. Because the party that Martha Stewart put together was actually dreamed up and put together by a team of professional designers, decorators and stylists with a huge budget – and that is their job.

    I do agree with the concept to a point. But comparing professionally styled/created content to user-generated content is not comparing apples to apples.

  • Thank you SO much, Heather, for identifying the source of the image! I wasn’t able to figure out where it came from. So I knew the photo was probably professional, but I didn’t have context for it. Knowing it’s from J.Crew makes it feel totally different. You’re so right.

    What’s also interesting, though, is that there are many wonderful photos like this put out by bloggers and individuals everyday. Not just Martha or J.Crew. And those photos are the ones where many people can feel like they don’t measure up.

    But you are right, particularly when we see mega companies putting out incredible stuff we don’t need to compare oranges to apples. But sometimes comparing user-generated apples and apples can can feel just as isolating.

  • Heather

    Totally. You hit the nail on the head… “wonderful photos like this put out by bloggers and individuals everyday. Not just Martha or J.Crew. And those photos are the ones where many people can feel like they don’t measure up.”

    It is the blogger masquerading as the graphic designer – the shopper with an eye for colour masquerading as a fashion expert, and so on. They have some skill, they are taking initiative and posting their content… we recognize it as ‘better than normal’, yet there is something off *just* enough that we know it isn’t professionally done. Just enough that we associate ourselves with them, as other like minded everyday creative folks. And therefore compare ourselves to them. You are right. The problem isn’t living up to the professionals. It’s living up to the people who are trying to portray themselves as equals of the professionals.

    These professional photos (of professionally generated content) have always existed. They were in martha mag before they were on pinterest. And the number of domino images on Pinterest is unbelievable and it folded before Pinterest began.
    Pinterest has just become the holder of all of these images. Good and bad, professional and not…

  • Malorie Bertrand

    Great post! You captured the this topic so well and so simply. So long as people can remind themselves that what they see on social media isn’t real, for the most part, I hope they don’t measure themselves against it.

  • Thanks for your thoughts on this. Though I politely disagree with your definition of professionals excludes small business owners. I don’t think there is anything ‘less’ professional about someone who works for themselves and makes a living as a graphic designer or stylist if they pay the rent and provide great value for their clients through that skill.

    For example, I have a very “fancy” business degree at one of the top B-Schools (UofM Ross School of Business) and learned *very* little about running a business – less than I learned from starting my own jewelry business at the age of 15 based on trial and error that lasted 14 years and made six figures in revenue.

    Many other small biz owners fall in this same camp, and I don’t think that makes them less “professional” than someone else who has a position at a company (though this can be a topic of debate online for sure).

    That said, the budget and team behind something like JCrew or Martha is indeed much different than a solopreneur in terms of the image content that this post discussed specifically.

    So I don’t think it’s about who is professional and who is not in terms of the concept I wanted to share in this post. It’s about whether we think the images we see online are a peek into the full reality of the people behind those images, or not.

  • I’m glad you liked the post, Malorie. : )

  • Pingback: Too Much Stuff! | a devoted novice()

  • Pingback: Review Furniture » Honor Roll()

  • Pingback: Mondays Menagerie {2} | Half Agony & Half Hope()