Books · Retro Housewife: A Salute to the Suburban Superhero

Retro Housewife, Intro pt. 1

I split the introduction into 4 parts (each one page of the introduction. I think its necessary to read the introduction to really understand the contents of the book, and where it’s coming from.

This is Page 1 –

I love to wear my mother’s old floral print apron when I’m working in my kitchen. It’s faded, if threadbare, peppered with antique burn marks and Crisco spots that no amount of scrubbing can remove. Now that I’m all grown up with a job and home of my own, I can certainly afford to buy a brand new apron made of stain resistant, high-tech fabric. But I prefer my moms because, when I slip it on, I slip back in time.

Like the majority of American Baby Boomers mothers, mine was a housewife – a label that has ridden a roller-coaster of connotation over the last 50 years. And the mid 20th century, being a stay – at – home mom was considered the pinnacle of success. When’s the man is Amanda sexual revolution of the 19 sixty’s came along, being a housewife was shameful, a prison sentence for timid underachievers. Over the next two decades the concept of a woman’s fulfillment – keeping a tally home, raising flight children, and attending to her husband’s comfort – began to seem as dated as Victorian values.

Then, around the turn of the new millennium, something happened. And no way did women with careers, Independence, & expertise and multitasking fancy returning to the limitations of the old days. But the well – documented stresses involved with “having it all” we’re giving rise to a wistful longing for simpler life.

The trend once called cocooning was renamed “nesting” and continued to grow. So did, what some pundits called, “the domestic-bliss industry”. Old style home cooking was once again in vogue, a guilty pleasure loaded with carbohydrates, fat, and salt. The comforting accouterments of the 19 fifties, such as Fiesta dinnerware and brightly Carlos aluminium tumblers, begin appearing on store shelves once again. Hit magazine started running articles on the joys of housework, lending it such qualities as therapeutic, self esteem building, even thrilling. Martha Stewart, the all-time queen of domestic goddesses, begin to experience the kind of runway popularity formerly reserved for pop idols.

Of course, emulating Martha didn’t exactly make life simpler. Nor did the latter day housewife float through her days on a carefree cloud of whipped topping. She did, however, live a life and which her role was sharply defined, the borders of her territory clearly marked. She hovered around her bread-winning man and their children, making their meals and cleaning up after them as if that was what she’d been put on earth to do. As the original “do-it-yourself-er,” she was also frugal, keeping up appearances – her own and her home – on a shoestring budget. From the turbulence of World War 2 through the optimism drench 1950’s a woman’s place was indeed in the home.

Tillotson, Kristin. “Pg. 1.” Retro Housewife: A Salute to the Suburban Superwoman. Portland: Collectors, 2004. 1. Print.




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