As an obsessive cleaner and neat freak myself, it’s no surprise to me that Marie Kondo has stolen the hearts of people across the internet. But for those who aren’t naturally drawn to tidiness, what it is about her that has pulled people in? Her biggest mantra is to purge the things in your life that no longer spark joy. Happiness is such a universal desire and her message has reached a global audience. Whether it’s through Twitter banter or a genuine desire to turn around your cluttered lifestyle, her ethos speaks to just about everyone. Below you’ll find a little background on Marie, where she started, and how the backdrop of the hoarding epidemic all contributed to her popularity, which led to Netflix ultimately giving her a platform to present what she does best.
Marie has always been captivated with tidying and organizing spaces since childhood. She turned it into her career at just nineteen years old while she was at university in Tokyo. Her friends began offering her money for her tidying services. She didn’t intend on tiding the whole word at the beginning, but her passion for it and the apparent demand for her specific style has led her to ultimately this exact goal. Since then she has gone on to become the best selling author for her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” For Marie, tidying is a passion and hasn’t only been a second nature but a centerpiece to her life. She realized early on that tidying has a much deeper psychological element and that tidying is “less a function of your space and more a function of your soul.”
There is actually a huge difference between hoarding and clutter — what they have in common is that they’re both issues that Marie believes her method can tackle. Hoarding is considered a mental illness where you can be living in a cluttered space without being a hoarder. Hoarders tend to feel a deep discomfort and disability in disconnecting with physical possessions, regardless of actual value. Hoarders will neglect the realms of the real space they have in order to keep a mass amount of possessions and will have a tendency toward indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, and problems with planning and organizing. Unfortunately, we often perpetuate these types of things in society because of the shock value they have. Take the show Hoarders for example. Hoarding makes for incredible reality T.V. because most people cannot relate with the “contestants” on the show. The show looks into the lives of those who suffer from a mental disorder and are usually on the verge of either losing their children, being evicted, or facing a serious life-altering consequence. On the show, professional help is usually offered up in quite a threatening way. Watching people we don’t understand and making a spectacle of a condition is something we, unfortunately, are attracted to doing in the media. For many hoarders, medical attention is required but Marie’s method is a much gentler approach that sensitive to the difficulties of purging your things.
The great thing about Marie’s method (it’s even become a verb, “Kondoing”) is how simple it is. If you feel like decluttering simply pick up and item and evaluate whether or not it still brings you joy. If it does, keep it, if it doesn’t, toss it. The order in which she tidies is also important. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when faced with a cluttered room, whether it’s your kitchen, bedroom or living room. Marie believes that instead of breaking up your organizing into rooms you should divide it into categories. She begins with clothing, then books, then paper, then komono (kitchen, bathroom, and garage — in her words, “anything miscellaneous”) and finally sentimental items. Despite her wanting to help people get rid of their things she also has massive respect for every item. She believes in respecting things and the purposes they serve us. Before giving things away or throwing them out she encourages people to be thankful for their service. For example “she wants you to thank that blue dress you never wore, tell it how grateful you are that it taught you how blue wasn’t really your color.” The way she advises you to fold a shirt or not tie your stockings in a knot is all to respect your clothing and appreciate what it does for you.
If you’re still on the fence about Marie’s popularity, watch some of her Netflix show. I watched one episode of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and immediately got it. Her charm seeps through the screen and her bubbly positive personality is really hard to dislike. She is energetic and clearly excited about the “messes” she’s walking into. Amidst squeals of joy and giggles, she promptly turns people’s clutter into beautifully curated spaces. Unlike most hoarding shows, there is a complete absence of shame and guilt placed on the “hoarders,” or families who have let their messes get out of control. She enters with positivity and leaves with positivity, completely skipping over the part of making the family or person feel as though they have a problem.
When Kondo and her method first came to America they were not welcomed with the same open embrace she currently enjoys. Americans had become so attached to their things that even organizing experts began heavily criticizing her ways. But the crowd was definitely split. The many people that connected with her and her method and felt as though she was speaking directly to them. Marie preached that by aiming upward people would be able to find a way out of their clutter. The way she has been able to take people’s hearts and also allow people to warm up to the idea of purging a huge amount of their items is by saying “the only goal is joy.” It’s an impossible sentiment to disagree with. Beyond her being a walking, talking, decluttering ray of sunshine a closer look into how things “go viral” is also behind her huge internet takeover. The hashtag #kondoing took over Twitter, because other than how it phonetically sounds like “can do,” it elicits a positive, cute-factor response in people and makes a great social media hashtag. This thrusted Marie further into the public sphere and onto Netflix, which became a jumping off point of her overnight sensationalism. Aside from the fact that watching her show and doing some research on her has made me antsy to essentially throw away everything in my own apartment, there is a huge pressure online to jump on the wave. The meme’s and Tweets about her have made it impossible to not want to look into her a little. Naturally, we want to be in the know and the more the online population is talking about someone or something the more we want to understand it and be part of the conversation. Although Marie has been around for a while and her book and talks have been happening since 2013, making it to mainstream media has resulted in the entire internet needing to know more about her and essentially be “in the loop.”
Whether tidying up is going to stick around as a trend a la Kondo or whether it’s going to die out as most internet sensations do is hard to say. Her ethos and approach are so pure and having her own person be the face of this movement make it hard not to love. My humble prediction is that people will most likely move on to the next thing; whether it’s a celebrity Twitter feud, a viral Instagram egg, or Kim Kardashian stark naked, our attention spans in this day and age seem to be growing smaller and smaller. However, in the world of tidying up (a surprisingly saturated profession if you can believe it), Marie Kondo has made history by presenting a new method devoid of the shame and shock factor that preceding organizational shows would use to sordidly launch it into the public eye. This brings us joy!
Written by Delfina Forstmann