Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Why Marie Kondo's online store sparks a feeling of hypocrisy, not joy

After advising us all to declutter our homes, the Japanese cleaning guru has launched an online shop

Marie Kondo has made a name for herself with her decluttering techniques. AP
Marie Kondo has made a name for herself with her decluttering techniques. AP

Oh, Marie Kondo. How we trusted you, with your minuscule frame and gentle Japanese tones. How we hung on to your every translated word – whether delivered in book form or via a no doubt highly lucrative Netflix series. How we tried to follow your cues, discarding long-held items that were actually pretty handy but didn’t ultimately (as far as we could tell, because – let’s be honest – it’s a vague concept) “spark joy”. You were the raft that would save us before we all drowned in a sea of junk. You taught us there was no problem in life that couldn’t be overcome by mastering the art of folding or rearranging cutlery. And how you must have laughed in your perfectly ordered, joy-filled home as we lapped it all up.

Kondo, the Japanese cleaning guru, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and host of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, has built a career on advising people to declutter. Her tidier-than-thou KonMari method hinged on the premise that people should only keep things that truly “spark joy” in their homes. Everything else is essentially a burden.

Japanese tidying expert Ms Kondo inspires her followers to arrange their socks and tights in a drawer in small boxes. Photo: AFP
Japanese tidying expert Ms Kondo inspires her followers to arrange their socks and tights in a drawer in small boxes. Photo: AFP

In an age when we should all be thinking about conscious consumerism, Kondo’s message resonated. There is no denying many of us have too much stuff – society is endlessly propagating the idea that happiness and success can be equated with material things. And however much we have, it is never quite enough. Kondo painted herself as the anti-consumption queen, here to save us from ourselves. And then, last week, she launched a shop on her KonMari website.

Having convinced us to clear some space in our homes, she can now supply plenty of things to fill them up again. There are candles and incense holders and bathrobes and nail brushes and shiatsu sticks (literally, a piece of wood “designed to enhance the ancient practice of shiatsu”). There are $220 serving bowls, $156 cheese knives and $75 quartz crystals. Luckily, there are also storage solutions to help us organise all this stuff.

In a defensive play, Kondo released a statement claiming: “My tidying method isn’t about getting rid of things – it’s about heightening your sensitivity to what brings you joy. Once you’ve completed your tidying, there is room to welcome meaningful objects, people and experiences into your life.” It’s a backtrack worthy of Donald Trump.

Kondo has promised she has touched every item in her store to ensure it brings her joy. Which, again, seems to undermine everything she preaches. What brings you joy is entirely personal. The objects you own and truly love are imbued with countless intangible personal associations – so why is Kondo now asking us to invest in things purely because they bring her happiness? Kondo’s latest move has, rightfully, sparked outrage, so it is unlikely that many people will be investing in her trinkets. We can just about tolerate being preached to. But not by a hypocrite.

Updated: November 28, 2019 03:54 PM

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