Saturday, 8 August 2015

THOUGHTS ON: Are We Doing Minimalism Wrong?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the minimalism thing... and in its cool, unassuming ways lies a worry for me. One question has resurfaced over and over -

Is our view of minimalism really about living with less?

The last couple of years has seen a wave of cleaner and simpler styles flood high street brands like H&M, Zara and Forever 21, while homes, hairstyles, makeup and of course fashion took on a Scandinavian-inspired sense of "less is more". Elegant, understated pendants replaced the statement necklace. Quiet, unassuming white t-shirts stepped in over fussy printed pieces. We cleared our wardrobes, emptied our bathroom cupboards, binned the clutter that topped our dressers, and headed for the tills with anything that hinted at functionality and a simpler, happier life... Or at least, I certainly did.

It's been almost 18 months since I started my "minimalist journey" and I've hit a stumbling block. I've realised that I'm not really a "minimalist" after all. I'm a consumerist who's happily bought into the latest hype; I've even got the bank balance to prove it.

Where I had hoped to find clear, empty spaces in both my home and my life, I've realised that the room I made with endless clear-outs has instead been filled by yet more mass-produced, unethically made stuff. Stuff that is undeniably less colourful and busy than the items it replaced, but nevertheless - there's far more than I need.

Is this minimalist trend (and yes, I am calling it a trend because I fear that is all it is) just plain old fashioned consumerism... but this time a little plainer? Are those calming, unassuming neutrals just making it easier to amass still more crap that won't last five minutes?

Minimalism and its sibling essentialism have, I feel, been warped by our unacknowledgeable need to fill the emptiness in our lives with stuff. Had a bad day? Buy some simple silver earrings*. Had a great day? You deserve those fashionably hideous Birkenstock sandals*. Ultimately, I believe that nothing has changed.

What should minimalism be about?

For starters, I think we need to think less about our stuff. To stop placing so much value on a Pinterest-perfect wardrobe, even when it's one that packs up properly into a tiny suitcase.

I'd like us to spend less time minimising our wardrobes and more time minimising the amount of brain space we so happily give to the objects in our lives.

I'd like us to buy out of necessity and not emotion. I'd like us to prioritise spending money on time with our favourite people over spending it on our favourite brands.

I'd like us to worry more about where the things we do buy come from and worry less about whether these things make us cooler or more worthy of love.

Lastly I would like us to value other commodities that we are rich in, be they time, health, youth, or love.

If ever there were a post I wanted to hear your thoughts on, it is this one. Are you just as concerned by minimalism - or do you disagree with me? Come and have a chat in the comments because I would love to hear from you!


* I mention these not because there is anything in particular wrong with them, but because I literally own them.

NB I have just adapted this to make my point clearer; I do not take umbrage with the minimalist lifestyle, but with those big brands that have turned its principles into a trend with which they can sell more cheap crap. I realised after a chat with Sophie that it was unintentionally ambiguous when first published!

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