Even Marie Kondo's Home Is Messy, and That's Totally Fine
It has been almost a decade since organization guru Marie Kondo rose to fame with the 2014 U.S. release of her bestselling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her KonMari method took over the world of home organizing, resulting in two Netflix docuseries and surplus donations at thrift stores. The height of the Tidying Up wave hit the U.S. right before the pandemic brought in a consumerist shift toward online shopping, embracing clutter, and everyday conversations about the supply chain. Now, in 2023, even Kondo's house is a bit messier.
In a recent media webinar for her latest book, Kondo revealed that her life and her home have undergone a change since she welcomed her third child in 2021. "My home is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me at this time at this stage of my life,” she said, per Washington Post. "Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times. I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home."
Kondo's admission that even the Queen of Tidying Up doesn't have a perfect home continues the ethos of her entire career: It's vulnerable and nuanced, and drawing a divisive response on social media. When the expert became a mainstream public figure in 2019, following the premiere of her first Netflix show, she was met with fervent critics speaking out against her methods. Many of her loud detractors falsely claimed that she demanded a strict formula—get rid of most of your stuff, including books and prized possessions—when her method involved suggestions for decluttering based on prioritizing what brings joy within a home.
The people who are responding to Kondo's embrace of clutter with schadenfreude rather than compassion, relatability, or frankly, minding their own business, want to hold on to the public perception of the "brand" of Marie Kondo rather than look at her whole person. In our intellectual era of distilling theories and methods into buzzwords with skewed meaning, the expert has been reduced to a easily digestible folding method and an enduring meme. Her continued dedication to candid connection with her readers show that she deserves more.
The KonMari method was always about living and organizing a life customized around whatever made a person happy. For many, myself included, Kondo's cultural moment within minimalism was the first time that they examined their stuff—the accumulation of objects, the money spent acquiring them, and the psychological impact of collecting physical things and toting them around between places and homes. There was never an ascribed amount of decluttering that had to happen with the method, but Americans tend to gather more resources than needed to cultivate a feeling of safety. That desire toward safety was felt even more during the pandemic, when the confused general public bought more than ever before at a time where we were mostly left to fend for ourselves.
As many of Kondo's supporters have pointed out, the expert is not alone in her decision to give up on complete neatness. So far, the 2020s have been a decade of people recognizing the need for personal and social change. From the Great Resignation to "soft life" trends on TikTok, people are dropping their old standards for a "perfect life," whether those beliefs were societal or self-imposed. Kondo is one person among millions taking steps to cultivate new values for life, though because of her cultural status, her admission of change draws more public response. Her amplification brings more negative responses, but it will also hopefully shake some people who were on the fence into joining her in working towards a more fulfilled life.
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