I’ve seen a few videos come across my YouTube suggestions lately that claim minimalism is nothing more than elitism. I watched the videos and tried to understand what the people were saying, but it was hard. I guess what a person considers to be elitist may just be as unique as what a person considers to be minimalist.
But the question is out there, and people are talking about it… So… I guess I’ll join in.
I’d like to start by making it clear that the picture above is not a picture of my kitchen. It’s beautiful, but it is definitely not mine. It’s a stock image that I got from the Canva app. And it is also what many people imagine life to be like when someone says they are a minimalist.
Perhaps that is where the problem starts… Images.
When people think of minimalism, they tend to think of beautiful homes that are perfectly crafted and curated. We’re talking museum quality images that pop into people’s minds, and we owe our thanks for that to things like Pinterest and Instagram.
But the truth is, most people have pretty standard kitchens with stuff on the counters and dirty dishes in the sink. Heck, as I’m writing this my dishes are soaking in the sink just waiting for me to wash them.
But images don’t make someone an elitist.
So why would people equate minimalism with elitism?
That depends greatly on how you define elitism. You see, when I watched the videos previously mentioned, I was watching with my personal definition of an elitist. To me, an elitist is someone high up on the social ladder, entirely wealthy, a completely snobby about it.
To someone else, an elitist may be a person with a higher education and a well paying job.
And to some people, I guess minimalism is elitist because many minimalists speak about owning greater quality items so that you can have less of one thing – and doing that takes money, but so does buying cheap stuff over and over again… so to me there really is no difference.
Others view minimalists as elitists because they travel a lot. But that is a stereotype because not all minimalists live out of suitcases and venture to far off countries with camera in hand.
And yet others say minimalism is elitist because some people do tend to get a bit preachy about it. Yes, they do. They scream and rant about buying less, creating zero waste, and more… all while making it sound like those who don’t are just awful because of it.
So, the quick answer to all this, I suppose, is to figure out what you think elitism is and use your definition to decide if that is how you view minimalism.
I do not believe one leads to the other.
I’m a minimalist. The thought of being an elitist, based on my definition of the word, makes me laugh.
It makes me laugh because I am also a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for fifteen years now. This past year I took a part-time job for a very brief amount of time, but other than that I haven’t worked. That means we are a one income family. And that income is small.
We live in a small house by American standards.
We only own one car.
We don’t take fancy vacations.
We don’t wear designer clothes.
We live on a budget.
You see, this version of minimalism that I live out is very practical. In fact, it’s very much what I think your average person is dealing with. Most people don’t have giant homes with perfectly kept appliances. And most minimalists don’t believe they are better than anyone else because of their choice to live with less.
But the views of people outside of minimalism are always going to be skewed. The reason for that is that people only see what they want to see… and those perfectly curated images are easy on the eyes.
And people also tend to only hear what they want to hear. Unfortunately, in our current social media climate the ones who yell are the ones who tend to be heard. People want to hear the rants these days, so the minimalist that is screaming loudest about consumer waste is usually the one people remember.
People want to see the big.
People want to hear the loud.
And when people get what they want, they also form opinions.
And that is why I believe minimalism has become known as another form of elitism.
I don’t agree with it, but that’s life. And since I’m not one of the loud ones, I’m not sure my saying so will even make a difference… but at least I said it.