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


Since the English translation of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Ten Speed Press, 2014), many Americans have been fascinated by the promise of being able to sort through all their things in a way that returns control of their living space to them. This dream is especially appealing to mothers, who carry the burden of managing household stuff: the accumulation of family needs and interests and the avalanche of children’s toys and clothes. Simultaneously, there is a cultural narrative insisting that mothers are responsible for giving children an idyllic childhood and curating photos and mementos for the future. While parents of any gender might feel these social expectations, women are more likely to have internalized them. American women, even those working full time outside the home, are socialized to assume that housework is their responsibility. Many women also feel pressure to curate previously private domestic spaces and display them on social media platforms. Tension exists between the dream of a largely empty white room and the reality of life with active children, and this creates space for marketing ways to manage that tension to American mothers. Some women have monetized their own experiences by building online businesses that promise physical and psychological transformation. For many mothers, asserting control over household space and maintaining that control through the permanent removal of objects can be just as valuable as any time saved from cleaning.

Author Information
Katie L. Peebles, Marymount University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2023
Stream: Women’s Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Peebles K. (2023) Minimalism, Motherhood, and Marie Kondo: The Appeal of a Japanese Aesthetic for American Moms ISSN: 2187-4751 The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon