Donning elaborate dresses, fastening an apron around their waist, and popping in their finest pearl earrings (or at least some iteration of pearls) for another round of household chores or cooking, more and more young women are following in the footsteps of the quintessential mid-century housewife thanks to the latest TikTok trend.
But while some women are eager to shirk all the hustle and bustle of today’s corporate world and channel Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver, others are none too happy with the trend.
“The new trend for submissive women has a dark heart and history,” reads one headline from The Guardian.
An article from Hypebae slapped the videos as “disturbing,” writing “[they] typically feature a cis straight white women, longing for the ’50s – an era where some women could opt out of participate in the corporate working world and be stay-at-home mothers instead.”
And a third from Grazia magazine accused the trend of “romanticizing an era where sexism and racism ruled.”
But those following the trend tell a different story.
A trad wife, short for traditional wife, according to TikToker Estee Williams, is “a woman who prefers to take a traditional or ultra-traditional role in marriage, including the beliefs that a woman’s place is in the home.”
While these women channel the structure of a stereotypical 1950s household in which the husband goes to work while their wives stay home to cook, clean, and care for any children, those behind the trend say it’s so much more – particularly in the age of burnout and struggles to maintain a work-life balance in the post-COVID age.
“It doesn’t mean that we are trying to take away what women fought for,” Williams said in a TikTok video from September. “There are a lot of people trying to make this a sinister thing or put some other, darker meaning behind the term ‘trad wife.’ Nobody is doing that.
“No trad wife TikToker is saying every woman’s place is in their home. We, as individuals are just choosing to be homemakers. That’s all.”