**Today's post is more of a thought experiment than anything. I blame my time in academia for my focus on definitions and meeting people where they are. Proceed with caution.**
Minimalism, for me, is about emphasizing increasing the amount of joy that I have in my everyday life. I do this by decreasing my dependence on consumerism and working towards valuing the things that I already own. This does not mean that I eschew owning things. Rather, I (try to) only own things that add value to my life. I think that minimalism gets a bad wrap because many people seem to conflate the meaning of minimalism with other "isms" including modernism, environmentalism, anti-consumerism, etc... To complicate matters further, in trying to make minimalism palatable to a wider audience, many minimalist bloggers and authors write about "how to be a minimalist" and create lists and rules to live by. While usually helpful for the beginning or budding minimalist, these how-to guides tend to force a certain amount of rigidity on the idea of minimalism and seem to forget that minimalism might mean something different for everyone. I am more than happy to talk with people about my ideas about minimalism and the blogs/books that I have read about the topic, but encourage those interested to come to their own conclusions.
One common theme that I have noticed lately in the minimalist movement is an obsession, or deification, of the color white. Some advocates of minimalism have encouraged readers to paint their walls white, own white belongings, etc... I find this to be interesting for several reasons. First, those who equate minimalism with environmentalism (M-E) might reject the color white as it rarely appears in nature and imposes a sterile feeling (instead of a natural feeling) to a room. On the other hand, those who equate minimalism with modernism (M-M) might embrace the color white because it fits in with that overall aesthetic. Second, advocating for owning white belongings seems contradictory because it doesn't meet people where they are. Essentially, encouraging people to replace what they already own in order to achieve a particular look. The anti-consumerist minimalists might certainly have something to say about this.
Further, and perhaps more convolutedly, the color white as I have been referring to it is not really a color at all. White, depending on the angle you take, either indicates complete color saturation (think about the white spots you see when you look at the sun) or complete absence of color. If one takes the saturation point of view, striving to achieve complete white seems to imply striving for more ownership. Taking the opposite point of view of absence, white seems to imply owning nothing. I think that minimalism falls somewhere in between.
For me, owning white belongings and/or having white walls goes against my brand of minimalism. It offends my anti-consumerist tendency because in order to comply with this rule or achieve this standard I would need to get rid of the majority of my belongings and start again. Also, white belongings tend to show wear and stains more readily than other colors. Thus defeating the pristine aesthetic and necessitating additional consumption. My environmentalist tendency is against this standard because white doesn't occur often in nature. Consider the rarity of albinos for most mammals, the varieties of flowers that are white, etc... I am more likely to embrace a more natural color scheme rather than a white one. I tend to decorate in earth tones with the occasional pop of color. I am also a fan of un-dyed linen. In the end, I think the over-reliance on modernism is what leads to this "rule" of white. I do not necessarily identify with this component and thus I struggle with being the best minimalist that I can be.
Maybe I have over thought this obsession a little bit. What do you think?