Did you notice something when you were out shopping for the holidays this year? Did you notice that many of the mannequins and photos in women’s clothing departments and stores looked, well…normal? Like they’re not all size 0, and actually have things like hips and curves, or not… or that they were just all different shapes and sizes? There’s a whole body positive movement that has taken hold, and it seems to be spreading. From Wikipedia (links removed):
“Body positivity is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.”
I’m all for it, especially being the mother of children growing up in the age of Instagram, duck faces, and thigh gaps. When you stop to think about how much our bodies do for us, without our even asking them, it’s a shame this movement didn’t take hold sooner. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves, or that we shouldn’t try to look good when we want to. But the unrealistic standards of photoshopped images don’t necessarily serve what our definition of “best” can be.
I’ve noticed something else. Along with photoshopped bodies, there are heavily styled or edited pictures of organized rooms and spaces, too. They’ve always troubled me, because they seem to put much of the emphasis on containers, stylish labels, or everything matching perfectly. They usually involve purchasing more stuff to create the “look” (which is putting the cart before the horse). They are not always realistically maintainable. And while they can inspire and give some people great ideas and motivation, for many people I work with, they are deflating. Lots of my clients have serious time constraints, and not a lot of time to put (and keep) clothing in rainbow order or line up their cans perfectly in the pantry. Organizing is supposed to save you time, not add to it.
I’m also not suggesting that you can’t have beautiful, clean, stylish spaces. I’m saying that you don’t have to have those kinds of spaces in order to be organized. Organizing, in my experience, should create a framework or scaffold for the life you want to live – not be the center of the life you want to live. Do you organize to organize, or do you organize to produce results? In other words, organized spaces should be functional and supportive, just as taking care of yourself should be functional and supportive. If having pretty containers helps with that support, then that’s awesome, but that isn’t the only way to go about it. You can find and organize receipts in a clean shoebox as easily as you can in a complex, labeled, monthly file system.
I love how the body positivity movement can also inspire people to be creative with their fashion and individuality. Organizing can (and should) be individualized, too. Some people need to have things out where they can be seen, or else they forget what they have. Others find that leaving things out on the top of a desk or counter is stressful and distracting. Some of us like minimalist, spare spaces, some like lots of books and bric-o-brac. Both types of spaces can be organized.
And truth be told, both types can be disorganized, too. I’ve been in plenty of homes where there was very little clutter, but the layout for the homeowner was not intuitive. Their counters were clear, but they couldn’t find their keys or their sunglasses when it was time to head out the door. I love it when someone shows me a picture of a creative space they’ve made using things they already have, like:
- an old antique set of shelves for linens;
- their extra Washi tape for labels;
- some colored file folders they bought years ago and forgot about;
- repurposed, painted pegboard, with hooks for hanging small items;
- old cookie tins for office supplies
And so on. I like to call it “going shopping in your own home”, and the possibilities are endless.
So I encourage you not to get caught up in organizing envy. In this New Year, how could you employ a little “space positivity” in your homes and offices? What ways could you gain more control over your spaces, while still reflecting the authentic you?
Happy 2020, Moms.