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The past few years websites devoted to allowing the average Jane to indulge in her fantasy life have seen a huge surge in popularity. Sites like Pinterest and Polyvore are virtual playgrounds where grown-ups can acquire everything they want in life, from fast cars and gourmet food to couture fashion. All it takes is a few clicks of a button to see the wedding, house, or outfit of your dreams in front of your eyes.  
Pinterest interface with Wedding gallery opened.
PINTEREST: Your dream life on the small screen

Internet browsing was already a great American pastime, but now there’s Pinterest. The addictive site is notorious for luring students away from homework, mothers away from children, and teenagers away from Facebook. No one is immune. The site has actually been around since March 2010, but according to marketing research firm Experian Hitwise, it just made the top-ten list of social networking sites this past December.

Pinterest is described as an online “pinboard”, where you can organize and share things you love. To obtain an account, you must request an invite. Invites are usually granted within a few days, but sometimes the site likes to tease and wait almost two weeks to give permission to their oft impatient users.
Pinterest interface with vegetarian food gallery opened.
Once you’re in, you can browse through over 20 image categories like apparel, food and drinks, crafts, and many more. When you find an image you like - which shouldn’t take long - you can “re-pin”, like, or comment. Create your own pinboards to repin all of your favorite images into one place. For example, you might have a pinboard titled “Summer Style” and repin all the images of cute sandals and summer dresses you’d love to see in your closet. And once you’ve started, it’s hard to stop.

Pinterest pages are seemingly neverending; as users scroll and reach the bottom of the page, a group of new images immediately loads. There’s always more Pinterest: always more good food to drool over, more cute shoes to gawk at, and more beautiful people to admire and places you imagine yourself being. And now that the site is linked to Facebook, you can check out all of your friends’ pinboards and comment on, like and re-pin their images as well.
Pinterest interface with fall styles gallery opened.
Though the site seems fairly female-oriented, that's with good reason; Time Magazine reported that 83% of the site’s users are women. The difference in choices of pinboards is obvious, as guys create pinboards devoted to - what else - sexy women and vintage automobiles rather than wedding dreams and manicure ideas. Though it’s improbable that any of those models, cars, or costly wedding gowns will ever be within arm’s reach, you are free to indulge a bit in the fantasies of your perfect life without consequence.  

However, Pinterest isn’t just another Internet time-waster; it can actually be helpful. It functions an alternative place to save your favorite images, easily available anywhere you can get Internet access. The site’s DIY crafts and recipes inspire many to try new things, and some post images of fitness models photos for a little self-motivation when it’s time to hit the gym.
Polyvore user cristmas channels vintage Vogue for this chic ensemble.
Even as unattainable as the majority of the pins on high fashion, home decor, and exotic travel seem, perhaps Pinterest helps users realize their potential and inspire them to attempt new things, a major difference that’s not seen in other social networking sites. If you have yet to visit Pinterest, beware: once you do, you might like what you see. And there’s no turning back.

There is, of course, a smartphone Pinterest App, so pinners never have to be too far from their fantasies.

POLYVORE: A fashionista favorite            Polyvore is “a place for trendsetters and stylists from across the globe” to create virtual looks with any and all designer clothing their hearts desire.

Users create “sets” in which they drag and drop items of clothing, accessories, beauty products and more to create the looks of their dreams. Users have the fashion world at their fingertips, with access to an extensive selection of designers, background images, and text options to craft the ultimate look.

Others can comment on, like, and add these to their collection of favorites. Though not as popular as fashion sets, users can also create such sets for interior design and artistic sets.

Polyvore user cristmas channels vintage Vogue for this chic ensemble.The most talented users are featured on the home page as the“Top Set”. The site also hosts contests recognizing the best set created under specific rules and guidelines. Prizes are awarded for the best, most glamorous interpretations of style, using images from print advertisements of beautiful people, romantic background images, and even clip art.

Like Pinterest, it’s not all fantasy and fluff. There’s a style advice page where users can ask questions like what to wear with certain items of clothing, or to certain events, and other users can respond with advice. And if users want to buy a certain article of clothing used in a set, they can click on the image under the “Items in this set” box and be directed to the site where the item is available for purchase. / Issue 132 - September 2018
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