Over the past several months, I’ve seen more and more attention given to the minimalist lifestyle. In essence, it’s about shedding material possessions and distilling one’s life down to necessities – or things that, as the KonMari method suggests, truly “spark joy” in your life.
After seeing, oh maybe the 100th Pinterest post about minimalism, I started thinking – could this be the next Thing against which we all start to compare our lives? And, how can we be able to embrace minimalism when our society thrives on capitalistic advancement? Is having less what it takes to keep up with the Joneses?
Part of me is conflicted about this whole minimalism thing.
Don”t get me wrong. I definitely agree that society as a whole could afford (literally) to slow down material consumption.And it’s also really refreshing to see that the ‘less is more’ trend is catching on despite our hoarding tendencies. In fact, I have been taking a second look at all the stuff that I have as a result of the increased exposure I’ve had to this trend. I’ve tossed (or donated or recycled) a whole lot of stuff since minimalism started taking off. And its helped to clear my closet of clothes I never wear or don’t even like, or make up that I’ve had for wayyy too long.
I’m just conflicted about why less is suddenly so in vogue.
Maybe its because I work with a lot of young people and families who have a lot less than most people – and not because they choose to either – or maybe its because I’ve been working hard to spot privilege in disguise. But this smells a lot like a way to flaunt one’s privilege more than it does demonstrate one’s detachment from earthly possessions.
Honestly, I know that some people are going to read that and roll their eyes like, “oh god another one of those crazy liberals, reading way to far into everything” but I think it deserves a second look. Why is it suddenly so trendy to have a barren house with basically nothing in your closet, on your walls, or in your rooms? Why were economically disadvantaged folks ridiculed for this in the past – and why is it still not quite trendy that they don’t have a lot of things? Is it because their ‘stuff’ isn’t as nice as that other ‘stuff’?
Now, its on-trend to own only 10 pieces of clothing – but most of the minimal closets I’ve looked at call for $800 leather jackets and $150 wool sweaters. BOTH of which I would pass on, thank you very much, because 1. I’m never paying that much for clothes, and 2. they aren’t even vegan or ethically made!
All of this is to say that, I’m skeptical of the whole minimalism movement. On the one hand, I’m glad that myself and other are being asked to look at all the stuff that we have in our lives and evaluate the value of it. I think its important to stop and think before just shoving another pair of jeans in your dresser drawer when you already have 8 pairs. And on the other hand, I don’t know how long this will last. With the fashion industry (and, frankly, every other industry) telling us every week about the next big ‘it’ item and urging us to shop at every waking moment, I’d be surprised if minimalism lasts more than another year or so.
Either way, I still enjoy the moments when I stop and think – do I actually need this right now or am I just getting it to add to my ever growing collection of __________? In most cases, I don’t need anything. All things considered, I have all that I could possibly need.