Meet screen clean queen Marie Kondo
Maximalist Sylvia McKeown gives tidying guru Marie Kondo’s method (and new TV series) a whirl
A pocket-sized Asian woman walks through the door with a sparkle in her eye. She whispers and giggles in Japanese, while meandering through a cavernous American home overwhelmed by nutcracker dolls. And we mean overwhelmed. If said house shook even a beat, she and her child-sized signature white sweater vest would be engulfed in stuff, never to be found again.
But worry not. Soon the house and its owners will relinquish both their emotional and literal baggage to our tiny hero and various thrift stores. "I love mess," says Marie Kondo. This is a good thing, given that she is both an international tidying megastar and the centrepiece of the new Netflix sensation, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.
This smiling woman is the opposite of me in size, shape and disposition. When her book hit the bestseller lists in 2016, the maximalist in me railed against it. Who was this woman who instructed me (and the world) to hold up my stuff to check if it "sparked joy"? And if it did not, thank it and throw it away. I liked all 12 pairs of my distinctly different white sneakers, thank you very much!
And so, on January 1, when her show popped up on my screen, I was wary. But seeing as I was already deep in my own spring-cleaning binge, I figured: How could it hurt? And pressed play.
I didn’t expect it to happen. I didn’t think I would become the girl who spends her days folding her underwear into very tiny squares (placed in a newly dedicated box in my cupboard), and yet, here I am. I have become a disciple, an annoying follower — akin to a CrossFit junkie or vegan. My clothes, my décor, my breakfast, all have to "spark joy" in my life. And I am not the only one; the internet is on fire with jokes and converts alike — some going so far as to throw away boyfriends who don’t light that joyous spark.
I have to give Netflix credit; scheduling the show in a prime "new year, new me" slot was ingenious, but I think the allure of Kondo’s method is actually twofold — and this woman loves to fold. First, the root of her approach is positive. There is no shame here. You can keep whatever you like — and you’ve got permission to let go of the things in your life that don’t make you as happy as they used to. You’re allowed to be a new person and let go of those bootleg jeans that were so cool in the 1990s.
Second, watching the show, you feel a tingle of the excitement you could glean from taking control of your own life mess. Bathabile is still in office, but maybe 2019 will be less scary because I can find matching socks, with ease, every morning.