The pressure to keep a beautiful home is a responsibility thrust upon women for decades, but perhaps most recently with the rise of social media and the additional pressures to not only have a tidy house but have one that is insta-worthy as well. It might be clean, but how will it look in those blog photos?
Having a perma-staged house requires more than a dutiful commitment to regular cleaning, but also the ownership of the prettiest stuff and in *just* the right quantities. As a lover of maximalist decor I am acutely aware of the ideals of minimalism, complete with an absence of cords. (Seriously, ever notice how there are NEVER cords in pictures of staged rooms? Where do they go?)
I recently read a piece about Big Decluttering that really spoke to me. In Dame Magazine, Kate Washington writes
The classism and privilege baked into minimalism are multilayered. Big Decluttering, by positing the streamlined home as a purely personal matter of choice and shifting women’s attention to the domestic sphere, can distract from larger systems of oppression—including the direct oppression of less-privileged women and, often, children, who are severely underpaid for the labor of making all the cheap stuff that more privileged women are taught to toss out of our homes.
This truth has become painfully apparent to me since living in the USA. I’m entirely susceptible to the charms of decor available at a certain chain store that recently also experienced a short-lived residence in Canada. *cough cough* And I’m not talking about Zellers.
This store sells its overstock and out-of-season items to the nearby Goodwill locations in my region that, in turn, sell the items at deep discounts. I can say with non-mathematical certainty that the marble cheeseboards, gold-dipped end tables, and copper-lettered wall art declaring “Seize the Day” and “It’s Wine O’ Clock Somewhere” lose 75% of their charm once strewn about the shelves of a thrift store, laying next to previously viewed DVDs, planners dated 2017, and sparkly cases for iPhones 5 and 6. (But if you think I didn’t still buy that gold-dipped end table, you are mistaken.)
The clincher is that we all already know that the producers of these goods, including fast fashion, are undoubtedly women, who are undoubtedly located outside of North America, and who are undoubtedly underpaid. This is not new information. Still, an artisan created end table of higher quality, produced locally, would most likely sport a price tag well above my budget.
Desire can only carry you so far. Perhaps if that end table was priced at 80% the regular cost for female patrons? Just a thought.
All this being said, I’m not here to criticize my friends who are striving to find balance between all the STUFF to create the home she wants, not just the one we are told we should aspire to. In fact, follow my gal Ruth at Everything Unscripted who is strategically (and bravely) working to declutter her home and share her progress. I’m tuning into her FB Lives to help figure out how to deal with my piles of papers all over my office (or what I affectionately call my “blogger hovel”).
Ultimately, as I mentioned in the previous 2 parts to this series, you have to take up the space that you want. Occupy your home. It’s where you can feel safe to express yourself. If you want to fill it up with baskets of yarn (woven wall tapestries are making a comeback, after all) or souvenirs from your travels, go for it. And, by the same token, if you’re looking to clear space, do it because it’s what you want, and not because of an aspirational room reveal you saw on Pinterest. I promise you: a staged home is not a comfortable home.