Minimalism & Labels

As soon put any form of label on yourself, you open up to endless criticism.

My generation seems to hate labels. We avoid defining our sexualities,  relationships, beliefs,  religions, diets, careers, preferences and so on. Labels are viewed as limiting and negative, in particular when administered by other people. Sometimes we avoid them to sidestep perceived limitations.

Here's what I think; giving yourself a label in the context of minimalism can be powerful.

I call myself a minimalist, so my possessions and my attitudes to consumption are often questioned. People will jokingly say 'that's not minimalist of you!' or tell me what I should get rid of next. Then, there is the self-doubt. I am a perfectionistic person with a tendency towards setting high standards. While that's almost always a good thing, I try to disentangle it from the enactment of this lifestyle.

It's a process requiring no justification.


It's oh so tempting to believe that terming oneself a minimalist is unnecessary. Surely it must hinder the act of detaching from consumer culture by connecting identity to possessions. It could be seen as alienating, a loaded label which discourages the embracing of this lifestyle. But when its meaning is dictated on a personal basis, it has a real function. Movements require definition to spread in a cohesive manner.

I call myself a minimalist, so I am sending a clear message that I believe in a particular lifestyle strongly enough to regard it as a substantial part of me.  I have chosen to drastically alter my attitude to consumption. It's a choice to undo years of socialization and redefine happiness.

I call myself a minimalist because the decision to step away from consumer culture is not, despite some claims, something everyone is doing. The reason that this exists as a label is precisely as it is outside the norm.

Choosing to attach any classification to yourself can be complex. It requires either conscious acceptance or change, creating a sense of accountability and awareness. Labels create a dialogue, invoke creativity and connect people.

That's why you need to stop being scared to call yourself a minimalist if you believe in this way of living.

Stop waiting until you own a certain number of items, or haven't brought anything new for a certain length of time, or have moved into a smaller house. It might always be something you need to consciously work on. That's fine. If you identify as a minimalist, start labelling yourself and see what happens. You'll be surprised.