Lifestyle or “Statement?”

Lately I’ve been seeing lots of kerfluffle about “minimalism.” Premise: we Americans tend to live with way too much stuff. Endlessly marketed to, we buy into the idea that we must have more, bigger, better… stuff. Yet the stuff we thought we needed often lies unused. Mere clutter. Managing that clutter sucks up our time, energy and money–even as we pursue more stuff.

See? I can do minimalism too. There is absolutely NOTHING sitting on that placemat.

See? I can do minimalism too.
There is absolutely NOTHING sitting on that placemat.

So, lots of people are shifting into a “minimalist” lifestyle, doing away with stuff they don’t use. Like 80% of their clothes (since they only like and wear 20% of what’s hanging in the closet). Or unused furniture or extra sets of tools and saucepans.

Those who jettison their clutter report feeling lighter, freer. They have more space and air in their homes, more time and attention for their families. “Minimalising” sounds like a project well worth the effort!

As with any popular idea, though, some self-proclaimed experts are bound to jump in there and tell everyone else how to carry it out… sometimes without really thinking, apparently.

Last week our newspaper ran an AP home-decorating feature about repurposing books. Well and good, but one of the interviewees got a little carried away. She proposed buying books, covering them with white paper, and shelving them as a large-scale decoration. The photo showed a built-in bookcase with blank white book spines filling every other section (I’d say about 15 feet of shelves, total) in a checkerboard pattern. The alternate shelves contained flowers or framed art. “Books can be purchased by the foot,” the caption read, “and covered with white paper to create a minimalist statement.”

Waaaaaaait a minute…. You want me to go to yard sales, buy 200 pounds of books that I’m not going to read, spend hours covering them with white paper, and fill up half my shelf space with them?

To make a minimalist statement?


I literally snorted with laughter as the irony sank in. But that got me thinking about other good ideas taken to a silly extreme that defeats the original purpose. F’rinstance, take the “Red Hat Society.”

ORIGINAL IDEA: Middle-aged and older women shouldn’t have to fit some quiet, mousy “old lady” stereotype. Why not go a little maverick — put on colorful, mismatched clothes and get together with friends for some lunch, conversation and loud laughter?

EXTREME: License the whole concept. Impose rigid age and wardrobe restrictions, meeting times and membership rules. Sell stationery and decorative merchandise. Peer pressure will ensure women buy into all this to make a statement proclaiming their “freedom.”

It’s easy to be snarky but, as near as I can figure, inconsistency can sneak up on any of us. Hmmm… have I ever tried so hard to “make a statement” that my actions ended up contradicting my words? (Like maybe when if I yelled at my kids to “STOP YELLING!!” — a phenomenon I can neither confirm nor deny.)

Your Turn: Have you ever found a “statement” of yours backfiring? Do tell!

Thanks for reading!
PS: I am linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood this week. I love these ladies!

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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8 Responses to Lifestyle or “Statement?”

  1. jodyo70 says:

    Nothing in particular jumps to mind at the moment….but just wait. I’ll let you know.
    Excellent post, friend 🙂


  2. nataliya says:

    I just still can’t get over buying a boatload of books just to make them look “minimalist”. Ain’t nobody got time for that!! lol. Thanks for the laughs this morning.


  3. It always irks me when people say “Christians are so judgmental!” when clearly they are judging a whole host of people they do not know. This was such a great post, Jan. Fun, but such a good message!


  4. mrs. spike says:

    This is hilarious: “You want me to go to yard sales, buy 200 pounds of books that I’m not going to read, spend hours covering them with white paper, and fill up half my shelf space with them? To make a minimalist statement?” How could someone go to so much trouble to appear to be someone that doesn’t go to a lot of trouble? I’ve become a lot more ruthless when it comes to minimizing the stuff we have around. One cupboard, one drawer, one shelf at a time, I’ve been sorting and purging over the last several months. I know if I try to take on the whole house I’ll quit, so I’m just taking on the things that really irk me.


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