On Reddit’s r/konmari, a subreddit dedicated to Kondo’s KonMari method of “tidying up,” readers analyzed her purported newfound disinterest in a clean home:
On January 31 2023, the 9Gag Facebook page shared a post suggesting that cleaning “no longer sparks joy” for Kondo. A few hours after that, Katie Couric’s page accused Kondo of admitting that she had “given up,” adding that readers were consequently “off the hook.”
Google Trends data evidenced widespread intrigue regarding Kondo’s purported messy breakup with cleanliness. Searches related to “Marie Kondo” with “Breakout” levels of interest in the seven-day period ending January 31 2023 included “Marie Kondo given up,” Marie Kondo 3 kids,” “Marie Kondo admits,” “Marie Kondo giving up,” “Marie Kondo three kids,” “NPR Marie Kondo,” and “Washington Post Marie Kondo.”
Claims that Kondo had “given up” on cleaning were far from the first viral backlash involving her or her organizing methods. In January 2019, Kondo was castigated for allegedly imposing a strict limit on the number of books she permitted in an organized home.
In early 2023, people on Twitter mocked Kondo’s perceived haughtiness, emphasizing the idea that children had knocked her down a few pegs. Editorials appeared, lauding Kondo for finally recognizing the “cost” of a tidy home:
The Reddit post to r/konmari (embedded above) linked to a January 27 2023 Variety.com article, “Marie Kondo Has ‘Kind of Given Up’ on Tidying Up: ‘My Home Is Messy.'” It began:
Marie Kondo delivered a shock to fans during a recent webinar to promote her latest book, “Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life.” The decluttering queen is no longer tidying up as much after giving birth to her third son, or as Kondo put it, “My house is messy” (via The Washington Post).
A January 28 2023 NPR story, “Marie Kondo revealed she’s ‘kind of given up’ on being so tidy. People freaked out,” also cited the Washington Post as the source of what was often framed as some sort of disclosure or major admission:
Marie Kondo, the queen of tidy, says her house isn’t so tidy anymore.
“I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me,” said Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, a self-help book that took audiences by storm.
She’s also a mother of three.
“Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home,” the Japanese cleaning consultant recently told listeners, according to The Washington Post.
On January 26 2023, the Washington Post published “Marie Kondo’s life is messier now — and she’s fine with it” — something of a book and seminar review, coupled with a loose profile of Kondo’s life in early 2023. In what was the apparent source material behind the rumor, the author interspersed quotes with their own observations about Kondo’s latest commentary.
The third paragraph touched on calming rituals other than cleaning, and the focus on those in Kondo’s more recent work:
… But the ever-organized Kondo, it seems, is a bit frazzled since giving birth to her third child in 2021. Like most of us, she’s having trouble keeping up with all of it. Never fear, though: She is still sparking joy. It’s just that, these days, that doesn’t hinge on having a tidy house. Her new rituals turn inward, to more thoughtful things than a drawer full of perfectly folded T-shirts or an Instagram-worthy spice cabinet.
In her latest book, “Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life,” Kondo expands on the Japanese concept of kurashi, or “way of life.” She elaborates on simple ways to bring calmness and happiness to everyday things. Yes, that can mean cleaning out your purse every night, but it can also mean playing classical piano music during breakfast. Or making your mom’s recipe for black vinegar chicken wing stew. (The recipe’s included in the book.)
Search terms often included “giving up” or “given up” alongside Kondo’s name. That appeared to originate with a singular mention in the piece:
She encourages everyone to create their own rhythm, their own routines, based on what makes them happy, and she offers more than 125 serene photographic examples to inspire …
Kondo says that, for many, the perfectly organized space is not realistic. “Up until now, I was a professional tidier, so I did my best to keep my home tidy at all times,” she said at the event. “I have kind of given up on that in a good way for me. Now I realize what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.”
In that context, Kondo didn’t indicate she had “given up” on cleaning, merely that she’d relaxed her approach “in a good way” for herself in order to be more present as a parent. Earlier in the article, the author noted Kondo’s commentary had been filtered “through an interpreter,” adding another layer of ambiguity to Kondo’s commentary “at a recent media webinar and virtual tea ceremony.”
Furthermore, Kondo’s translated commentary appeared in the Washington Post at the end of January 2023, possibly paywalled for and inaccessible to readers who had previously visited the site — leaving secondhand, free-to-view stories that paraphrased the quote as the most common context in which many readers encountered the claim. Twitter users defending Kondo often hinted at neither having viewed nor needing to see the source material to understand the backlash and criticism of Kondo:
In late January 2023, social media claims that Marie Kondo had “admitted” that she had “given up” on a tidy home “after three kids” prompted significant discourse, much of it apparently motivated by schadenfreude and disdainful of Kondo and her KonMari method of “tidying up.” The claims originated with a Washington Post piece on January 27 2023, “Marie Kondo’s life is messier now — and she’s fine with it.” In that article, Kondo was quoted “through an interpreter” as saying she focused less on cleaning to focus more on parenting. Broader context about themes in Kondo’s most recent book linking rituals other than tidying to a calm environment were rarely cited in the discussion. At best, the rumors were out of context as presented on social media.