It’s been a trend for years and it’s promising to hang around for a while longer. Without going into too much depth, I try to look at some of the main ideas and issues. Including the way minimalism has been misrepresented.
We’re all the same in minimalism
The idea of minimalism, as I understand it, is to get rid of everything that doesn’t add value to your life. But it’s become more than that. It’s a lifestyle of white walls and monochromatic clothes, picked carefully so every white shirt matches every pair of black jeans (if you own more than one pair, that is). If minimalism is about keeping things that are of value to you, how come every minimalist influencer picks the same style of clothing and interior design? Is it possible they all have the same values?
Of course not. The minimalist aesthetic is something that first comes up when we start exploring the idea of minimalism. Just like every other aesthetic, it’s an easy way to feel like you’re part of a group. You see someone you admire, you see the kind of lifestyle they’re leading and you thing that if you paint your walls white and get a MacBook Air, then maybe you’ll be a step closer to being a part of the group.
A lifestyle for the rich
I’ve seen some people argue that minimalism is a lifestyle for the rich. Keeping things around ‘just in case’ you need them one day is less risk taking for people who don’t have a lot of money saved in case something goes wrong. Someone might buy a new phone but keep the old one, just in case the new phone breaks and they don’t have the money to buy a new one.
I can understand this way of thinking. I was born in a post-war era. At that time ‘minimalism’ wasn’t a choice. People didn’t have much to begin with, so everything we owned was kept. We didn’t have the luxury of throwing things away to ‘declutter’.
Wealthy people have an easier time taking risks. You may throw something away without much care, because you know if you ever need it, you can buy it again. It’s important to understand the past and present of someone’s life before we give ourselves the green card to judge their lifestyle choice. Hoarding is never fun, but neither is living in fear of something breaking and you not having the money to fix it.
Will fashion suffer?
I’ve touched briefly on the difference between keeping things that add value to your life and succumbing to the minimalism aesthetic.
If, like me, you are someone who enjoys fashion a lot then your values will be aligned with that. Maybe you get rid of all your paper copies of books but keep every piece of clothing you own. If the importance of value is key in minimalism, then I guess you could still call yourself a minimalist, even with 20 pairs of shoes. I’m not an expert on minimalism though, in case that’s a thing, but I’m sure some gatekeepers will tell you I’m wrong in my assumptions.
But if the idea of minimalism as an aesthetic blinds you, there’s not much room for you to express yourself in a fashion sense and still be a part of the group. You might like bright colors and patterns, both of which are a no-go in the mentioned aesthetic. You may want to keep all of your clothes because they add value to your life, but then your closet won’t look like that of a minimalism influencer and you lose your position in the hierarchy of minimalism.
What’s does all of this mean?
At the core, the idea of keeping only the things that add value to your life is not something we want to throw away easily. It makes sense. But keep in mind, it’s about your values. Don’t fall into the trap of getting rid of all your clothes if you enjoy fashion, just because someone’s values are not in clothes. If you love cooking own as many cooking supplies as you want. The ideology of minimalism shouldn’t stop you from experiencing life.
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