Minimalism, Motherhood, and Marie Kondo: The Appeal of a Japanese Aesthetic for American Moms (70719)

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Session: On Demand
Room: Virtual Video Presentation
Presentation Type:Virtual Presentation

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Since the 2014 English translation of Marie Kondo’s book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing", many Americans have been fascinated by the promise of being able to sort through all their things en masse in a way that “sparks joy” and returns control of their living space to them. This dream is especially appealing to mothers, who frequently carry the heaviest burden of managing household stuff - not only their own things, but also the accumulation of family needs and interests and the avalanche of children’s toys, clothes, and everything else. Simultaneously, there is a strong cultural narrative insisting that mothers are responsible for giving children an idyllic childhood and curating photos and mementos for the future. Inspired by Kondo, a household industry of “mompreneurs” focused on decluttering has emerged - mothers who start self-help businesses, advertising through social media. This trend connects in powerful ways to pre-existing American ideas about Japanese aesthetics and Zen Buddhism, and to newer anxieties about consumerism and climate change. Ironically, this movement is consumerist in its own way, by selling self-help products and inviting people to value the things they keep even more. A dynamic tension also exists between the dream of a largely empty white room and the reality of life with active children. Both contradictions will continue to fuel this movement. This paper analyzes these forces and the strength of these appeals.

Katie L Peebles, Marymount University, United States

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Katie L Peebles is a University Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer at Marymount University in United States

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Posted by Clive Staples Lewis

Last updated: 2023-02-23 23:45:00