The Millennium Phoenix

The Millennium Phoenix

The Millennium Phoenix

How Pinterest gave me an existential crisis – and it may give you one, too!

When social media tells us to romanticize our lives, it’s hard to appreciate what we have. 

I had never felt greater joy in my life than when my friends told me I was beginning to resemble my Pinterest boards. In reality, this had been weeks in the making. It took cutting off nine inches of hair, countless trips to the Goodwill bins and an exorbitant amount of money. It took obsessively choosing outfits and using Tik Tok filters that would tell me if I would truly suit short hair. In my attempts to look like an effortless chic French New York City downtown girl, I had driven myself nearly crazy. 

Previously, I had been going for a more carefree look. I wanted long, messy layers to give off an indie sleaze look. I made boards with Courtney Love and Sky Ferreira and cursed the world for making me a natural brunette. I’d never be able to pull off bleach blonde hair. 

My long hair rocker girl fantasy came to an abrupt end when I realized that to get the effortless blow out look, I actually had to put effort into my hair. The effortless, just rolled out of bed look required me to get out of bed earlier, use heat protectant and a round brush and mousse. I opted for flat hair and unstyled layers at school, which I got sick of quickly. When I cut the hair I had been growing out since I was twelve years old, I mourned. Not only the restraint it required to let it grow, but the fantasies that went along with it. The braids, the high ponytails, the messy buns. The person I thought the hair would make me into. 

My dream-like Pinterest boards don’t stop at just hair. My school board is full of pictures of well-dressed girls pouring over their Muji notebooks and silver Macbooks. There are homework assignments artfully sprawled across desks where you can just make out their glowing grades. There’s cute photos of girls in bummy, but cute, outfits. Girls in libraries with two hundred dollar headphones reading from a tiny textbook and taking notes in a tiny notebook. Obviously, these are real people’s lives. After all, someone had to have posed and taken that picture and posted it to Pinterest. The bleak truth is, there’s nothing glamorous or Pinterest worthy about most people’s lives. 

My once-trendy and now juvenile Kanken has an infinite number of gum wrappers at the bottom and has two years worth of wear and tear. I wear “aesthetic” Apple earbuds because I’m terrified of losing my AirPods. When I wear a bummy outfit, I feel like a bum. Not quite cute loungewear yoga pink pilates princess. I don’t feel particularly studious when I have to dump the contents of my bag all over my desk in search of a single lead pencil or a past due homework assignment. There’s nothing Rory Gilmore about the way I do my work on the subway when I’m ten minutes away from being marked late, or have stress stomach aches over school work. Getting harassed by homeless people on the E train is by no means the Blair Waldorf NYC party girl aesthetic that fills up my feed. 

The boards are nothing but a collection of carefully selected images. Things that would be nice to have or the type of person it would be nice to be. It would be nice to have an infinite amount of rings and a nice stack of necklaces. It would be nice to have the perfect room with hundreds of dollars worth of plush bedding and fifty dollar candles. It would be nice to have all eight hundred plus pieces of clothing I have saved to my clothing inspiration board.

But alas, these lifestyles are impossible to achieve. The rings I obsess over make my hands feel weird. Wearing multiple necklaces feels like I’m choking. There’s no way in hell my mom would let me fill my closet with clothing I’ll wear once. This rings true for most, and it’s easy to wave it off. To dismiss it, because obviously we can’t be our pinterest boards. But is it really that obvious?

When we gather inspiration, we create an imaginary life for ourselves. When we curl up in bed on our computers and put a good playlist on, we tend to get carried away. It’s easy to imagine yourself as the kind of person who’s messy but chic, the person who does pilates in pink every day and actually enjoys green juice. Maybe, you can imagine yourself as someone who actually studies, someone who takes meticulous notes in crisp notebooks and gets 100’s on every exam. Maybe, you can be a chunky scarf girl, a leather jacket girl, a Mary Janes girl or a jorts girl. How can one even be a jorts girl? 

Why do we give such importance to objects that on their own are just accessories, food, or even just pieces of paper binded together? What’s the secret behind a Muji notebook, or a nice silver necklace, or a pair of XXL jeans tied around your waist with a shoelace? What makes a chunky scarf more than a chunky scarf? 

This revelation has not stopped me from enjoying a good Pinterest session. I’m still on the look out for some red Mary Janes and a couple of unique pairs of jeans and Italian charm bracelets. The difference is that I’m trying to separate the object from this illusion of a person. Unfortunately, this means coming to terms with the fact that cute stationary will not boost my AP Spanish grade. 

Romanticized, edited, and aestheticized pictures are meant to sell you an idea. We’re used to this. Typical advertisements promise us that if we buy a certain product, we can be carefree conventionally beautiful women who bounce around even when they’re on their periods, or hunky attractive men who have a really, really good face razor. Pinterest isn’t too far off from this. Rather, it sells us the different people we can be, without us ever having to give them a cent.  

We’ve given immense meaning to everyday objects. Frankly, it’s hard not to when we live in a society where everything is thrown at us and costs at least fifteen dollars. A pair of shoes can never just be a pair of shoes.

Will our lives really be transformed when we get that one top? When we get that one pair of baggy jeans or that one color of Sambas? Will pilates rewire our brains? Is green juice really the way to go when you want to improve yourself?

No, no, no, no, and definitely not. Eat your greens the normal way. 

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  • Laila AngelinaNov 9, 2023 at 4:19 pm