Bend TikTok is a deeply satisfying and useful universe


But what exactly do collapsible socks make life easier? Or organize your husband’s boxer drawer to look like a Calvin Klein display? During the pandemic, people have understandably been spending more time at home, so it makes sense to be interested in organizational hacks and cleaning. But women – the group that does the most domestic work and childcare at home – have been overtaxed the most.

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Does it really make sense to add origami-like techniques to all the other home care expectations? In the 1950s, housewives purchased products like dishwashers and microwaves, a new technology that was marketed as a time saver for the busy housewife. But in reality, scholars like Ruth Schwartz Cowan have argued that these systems only raise expectations, creating more work for women. Of the housewife, Schwartz Cowan wrote, “She is expected to perform work ranging from the most menial physical labor to the most abstract of mental manipulations and to do so without any specialized training. Is CleanTok just another way to continue this tradition?

Not according to Lennia McCarter, the “Folding Queen” of TikTok. As the pandemic took hold, McCarter, a stay-at-home mom in Charlotte, North Carolina, felt like she was drowning in the responsibilities between her home, her toddler, and her six-month-old child. “I was always thinking about how I wanted to change the way I organized all my stuff because I felt so overwhelmed,” she says.

She had an idea. Some people post pictures of themselves online to hold themselves accountable to a workout plan. Could she motivate herself to organize her life by posting videos of folding clothes? McCarter had worked in retail in the past, but did not consider herself a folding expert. When her new followers started asking her to bend specific objects, she was researching methods online or trying to find her own. A popular request was for folding socks. “To be honest, I didn’t fold my socks back then,” McCarter admits with a laugh. She researched different approaches, until she found one that clicked. Her folding socks video now has 40 million views. “Basically, that’s how I fold my socks now,” she says.

TikTok content

This content can also be viewed on the site from which it originated.

For McCarter, who has a two-year-old and a six-year-old, complex folding isn’t about following an influencer image. “It just brings me a bit of peace,” she says. “I’m not saying my house is always spotless, because it’s not. I’m just working towards a place where I don’t have to think about it.

This is the central question of organizational tactics, including folding: Do you gain more time in the long run in folding? Or by storing all your clothes in a drawer? Laura Vanderkam, who has written extensively on time management and productivity, says, “Habits can help save time and energy in certain circumstances. We all have limited mental bandwidth. When we’re burning up a lot of that bandwidth making decisions about day-to-day living and life maintenance, we can feel like we’re living in chaos. But Vanderkam warns that you need to be careful not to overstress the housework. “It tends not to move people toward their personal or professional goals,” she says.


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