Much like how refined men of the 80s read Playboy “for the articles,” I follow most momfluencers “for the interiors.”
Loved this - thank you. This part really gets to the crux, and feels like it could be an elevator pitch (sorry) for your research overall, if we interpret "mess" broadly: "My motivation here is to “raise awareness” (🤡) that a lot of our household trends — trends that we allow into the intimate spaces of our family life, where we are meant to feel the safest and most ourselves — are actually linked to imperatives to convert sales on social platforms....When the home is a space for commercial activity, as it is for momfluencers, mess is not an option."
I loved this and found it comforting and stabilizing (like true coziness). Heres to dirtying the feed! Though I share the desire to demoralize dirt, I wonder if it’s ultimately impossible because of some small deep truth in dirt as “bad”. Like, to “take care” is at least in some way, tied to cleaning? We care for babies and wounds and old people by (sometimes) cleaning them? Same with houses/stuff? I thinking about hospitality and community. I am curious your thoughts. Like, it makes me sad that you didn’t have the goose girl to your commune, that you didn’t feel you could. How do you think she would have felt if she came? More or less alienated than you in her space? Isn’t cleaning for a picture on social media different then sweeping the floor before friends come over? Obviously its a tricky to know if I am sweeping for their comfort or because I care about how they see me, but I don't want someone to feel alienated in my home, and I imagine they could be if there was no where clean to sit? I like being in other peoples homes that feel lived in, which equals part mess, part cared for. Cause part of the slog of living is cleaning at least sometimes. And then there is something moral in there, because it’s about responsibility for others and for material things? Right? Like if my messes get too big I can’t find stuff and then it goes to waste? Is that inherently “bad”? Thanks for your newsletter I love it.
Another great one! My sister and I joke that in our upbringing with my mother dishes needed to be washed before going in the dishwasher, and you could definitely clean anything and everything wrong - there was always a right way to clean. I distinctly remember dreading when company was coming over because this need for spotlessness, no piles, etc, got turned up to 11. Your essay this week was therapeautic.
Also, please (please) do the Rae Dunn ethnography. I remember learning about her a long time ago from a Japanese design magazine about Bay area artists (before she was Rae Dunn TM) and then being kind of excited to see her ceramics in stores like TJ Maxx to then seeing this line of "pottery" explode and become (to me) super cheesy, with her writing on everything (pajamas, inner tubes). That said I don't know a single soul who owns any of this stuff but clearly people are buying it. I'm interested!
I’m on the other side of this, the cleaning never ends. I was brought up in rentals run by slumlords, the cleaning, the stress of things being not as they should be and the way to pacify this stress for my mom was her continual cleaning. She looked and commented continually about the houses she loved and coveted on walks in our town. We peeked into new builds in subdivisions wondering how people were able to afford them and fantasized about our dream homes on those walks. I find myself looking at rooms, pinning and envying the endless parade house porn. I hate/love my obsession. I wish there was therapy to rid me of it. How many bathrooms can a person look at before it becomes uninteresting, I clearly haven’t hit that wall yet.
I have loved every post you have made, I keep sharing them!
Damn! My first read and I am feeling all the feels - especially after I spent all of yesterday afternoon cleaning so that when my daughter and her friend come home from college, the house will be, presentable I guess! I have a ton of lingering childhood feelings of shame around cleanliness. Very few friends came to my house - which was a cabin in the woods - with no electricity or running water. We had an outhouse for awhile. Then upgraded to a hand pump in the kitchen and a bucket to flush the toilet. I was not voted most popular in my high school…
As the oldest of four growing up in a single-parent farmhouse with a composting toilet, not to mention an epic and constant mess—this hit home in SO many ways. I went to a private high school (thanks to my town’s high school stipend and some good samaritan who covered the rest)- and the one and only time I had a friend over melted to shit because of my messy wild house and (gasp) my composting toilet. She never spoke to me again and she did a great job of shunning me from the other boarding students I was getting friendly with. I keep a clean house now- partially as a knee-jerk reaction to my chaotic childhood- but I still live in spaces with “alternative” bathrooms. Now it serves as a litmus test for who rocks, and who does not. If my friends can’t poop into a bucket, mazel and goodbye.
I love that photo of your mom and Yeti, deep into dinner plans for 12. What did Mimi think of while cleaning> At the commune, maybe the characters she was writing, skewed versions of the lot of us, while straightening the living room from one end to the other. Later, not here, she hired women from her new neighborhood,and listened to their bad days. On the worst, she paid first, drove them home, and cleaned alone. Thanks.