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My Complicated Relationship With Minimalism and Three Netflix Shows That Will Make you Fall in Love With the “Idea” of it

I have a love/hate relationship with...



I love the idea of it in its true essence - you know - living a more meaningful and thought-conscious lifestyle away from the shackles of consumerism and fast fashion. Having a minimal home environment and work space that is not only better for the environment but also for your mental health, because having less stuff to clean means you are less likely to be overwhelmed. It all sounds like a beautiful dream to me!

But there is just something about modern day minimalism that also just screams elitist superiority to me. It's all about white walls, empty rooms and aesthetic Instagram pictures. The word makes me think of all the middle-aged white men who are so rich they can afford big storage houses and actually have time to declutter their apartments into nothing less than showpiece rooms. There is no doubt that there is a real class dynamic at play here, in which the average working class student or parent, who slogs it out every week from nine to five every single day, does not always have the time, energy or frankly the money to commit to this kind of lifestyle. It is also a privilege to be able to have the choice to downsize as opposed to those living in third world countries where they don't even have that option because of how scarce their resources are in the first place.

And it sounds counterintuitive, right? Surely a movement built upon downsizing and getting rid of non-essential items should save one's money not squander it? But unfortunately it sometimes feels like only those at the top can really afford to keep up with the minimalist lifestyle, because you have to be able to afford a big open space for a home, as opposed to a crammed, cluttered one, in order to make your home minimalist in the first place. For me, this kind of superior minimalism seems like a unachievable goal, sold to us all ironically by a capitalist system in order to profit off what began as an anti-capitalist movement.

For me, true minimalism is not about buying more aesthetic minimalist furniture and storage space or living in a cold, characterless icebox of a home just so you can post about it on Instagram, but rather living a simpler and more meaningful lifestyle in any capacity or means that you can. What springs to mind to me most is Studio Ghibli films, in which each protagonist fully embraces a lifestyle of simplicity. The characters spend less time with technology and more time surrounded by nature and visions of romanticism. That to me is what real minimalism is.

With that being said, I still do love to watch these three Netflix shows that present the idea of minimalism, because not only do they inspire us to live more thoughtful lifestyles, but they also make minimalism more attainable to the everyday, average person.


Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

First off, if you want to find out more about what minimalism is as a concept, this is probably a good starting point. This documentary gives a fascinating insight into why minimalism is an alternative to mass consumerism.

Watch the trailer for Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things here!

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

I absolutely love Marie Kondo - her style and aesthetic is just so neat and cute! What I love about her Konmari method is how useful and easy it is to apply to your current life. She begins organising by category rather than location, starting with clothing, then books, papers, and her last section: ‘Kimono’ which is for everything miscellaneous. Marie encourages her clients to be more sentimental and conscious with what they choose to store in their lives, only keeping items that truly "spark joy". I recently cleared out my wardrobe so I could reorganise my clothes and this show was the perfect thing to watch in the background while I was cleaning! Her folding method which allows you to see all your clothes at once is a real game changer!

Watch the trailer for Tidying Up with Marie Kondo here!

Tiny House Nation

I think I am addicted to watching this programme. It's all about downsizing your home into a tiny home! What I love about this idea is that each home is custom fitted to the needs and design of the individual and it is moveable so you can travel to any location and bring your home with you! (Talk about PIXAR's Up!) I also love how creative and inventive the builders are! They have to come up with some really smart, space-efficient solutions and it is so satisfying seeing them all come together by the end of the episode in the great tiny house reveal!

Watch the trailer for Tiny House Nation here!

In conclusion, I have a complicated relationship with minimalism. I love it in its truest form and simplicity, but I hate it in the form that it’s more commonly marketed today. These three Netflix shows however, are very helpful in bringing some practical elements of minimalism into your life!

British Muslimah. Intersectional feminist. Cynical Hufflepuff. Professional cat-lover. Shaheena is an English Literature student with a passion for social activism. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, reading and watching cartoons/animes. Her top fandoms include: Avatar (atla), Ghibli, Disney, Harry Potter, Marvel, Doctor Who & Sherlock.
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