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:
It's hilarious how much Marie Kondo commentary was people bloviating about Shinto and Japanese-ness and Impermanence and a whole bunch of essentialized stuff and it turned out that no she just didn't have kids yet.
— Andrew Reeves (@AndrewSshi) January 30, 2023
Marie Kondo has finally realised what it costs to be tidy – and like me, has decided to chill the hell out | Zoe Williams https://t.co/17m0Sz4UFL
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 31, 2023
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:
Marie Kondo told y’all to chill out and organize and some of you took it to a cultish level. That lady was all vibes, if you feel betrayed by her admitting to being messy now because of her kids you were the ones who did too much. You didn’t need storage bins. You needed therapy.
— Jon Kung (@ChefJonKung) January 30, 2023
Maria Kondo said, "spark your joy" and people hate her because they perceive their suffering as part of their identity.
— ❄ Willie Jack's Favorite Unk 🍙 (@DanDanTransient) January 28, 2023
The main thing Marie Kondo ACTUALLY told us was if something in our possession no longer brought us joy, we should thank it and let it go.
If spending time with her kids now brings her more joy than tidying does, she's really just living by the same ethos she always has. pic.twitter.com/ykj4EUtxie
— Jody Houser ✒️🗯️🎲 (@Jody_Houser) January 28, 2023
The way people continue to willfully misinterpret literally everything Marie Kondo has ever said just to fuel their miserable racist (yes it is) vendettas against her is WILD. She said "you can create a space that supports a life you enjoy" &has had y'all in a chokehold for years
— andie would rather be outside (@plusverb) January 27, 2023
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.