2019 started with an explosion of joy. Joy was sparking all over the place. Even as February draws to an end and New Year’s resolutions fade into the background, you can still see the little leftover joy sparks buzzing around. And there’s one woman who we have to thank for all of that joy — Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo, with her KonMari method of tidying, has been more than a cultural revolution. A book, a Netflix show, and followers around the globe — she’s undoubtedly the rockstar of the tidying world, if such a thing exists.
Her method, distilled to its most basic form, is this — you should only keep things that spark joy. “Our goal is to help more people tidy their spaces by choosing joy, and we are committed to developing the simplest and most effective tools to help you get there,” her website explains. You should take a moment and hold each of your belongings, to see whether joy sparks — if not, thank it for its hard work and send it on its way.
There’s so much to love about this method. It encourages tidiness and minimalism — it emphasizes only owning meaningful things rather than the capitalist obsession of having stuff for stuff’s sake. It’s simple, clean, and deeply satisfying to see drawers and cupboards empty out and transform into their best selves. It’s a great method for someone who has a beautiful home and wants to keep it beautiful. There’s only one problem — so many of us don’t have a beautiful home to begin with.
— ELLE Decor (@ELLEDECOR) February 19, 2019
Though there’s no doubt that we should be streamlining and minimizing, this trend that implies anyone can have a beautiful, peaceful place to live if we only we can make ourselves self-disciplined and dedicated enough is dangerous. Some people’s home will never reach any stage of Kondo-like joy, because we’re in the middle of a housing crisis. People’s living spaces have become smaller, tenants’ rights are weak, and unaffordable, even unlivable spaces are becoming more and more the norm. Placing the onus on individuals to create a beautiful, charming, Instagram-ready home isn’t realistic and ignores the much larger problem. While everyone can — and maybe even should — endeavor to curate a beautiful space to live in, it’s sometimes simply an unfair burden to assume it’s possible to do so.
Until we address issues like long-term tenancies, affordable housing, and rights for those in vulnerable living situations, there’s no amount of Marie Kondo-ing that’s going to solve the problem. So by all means, declutter, streamline, recycle, and spark as much joy as you please — but remember there’s a much bigger issue at play and that it’s not going anywhere.