Is there such a thing as the perfect 1950s housewife or is it all just a myth? This is a look at the reality of 1950s housewives and what they were really like.
Like many when I think of the 1950s housewife I think of June Cleaver, Donna Reed, and Lucy. Hair and makeup always are done, home always clean, and hot meals always ready to go.
That ideal is something that is really appealing to me and others. When you talk about 1950s housewives people assume that is even what you are saying we should all try to be. However, that perfect 1950s housewife is largely a myth.
If Instagram had been around in the 1950s we would likely have seen photos that made us think that the housewives of the era were like the ones on tv. Just like now we can look through Instagram and think our friends all have it so put together. It’s a curated look at life, not a realistic one.
The Perfect 1950s Housewife Myths
Magazines from the time often pushed this ideal. The idea that the wife was doing all the household chores, looked perfect, and always had a hot meal ready for their husband.
The truth is most women found it impossible to do it all just like we often do now. They would turn to TV dinners and other conveniences to help them. And many never had much time to take care of their personal appearance.
Consumerism had become more of a thing post-war and it could be very stressful for a housewife to keep up with the jones. Magazines showed beautiful homes that often were out of budget. Trying to stretch one paycheck to pay for everything you were now being told you needed was hard, just like it is today.
Many housewives also found themselves resentful for having only the choice to be a homemaker. Women had fewer choices and that can be difficult. Even now if you are choosing to be a homemaker it’s always nice to know you have other choices.
The old magazines, images, and TV shows featuring 1950s housewives are still fun to watch and that idea of the perfect housewife is very appealing but we must remember it’s fake.
That doesn’t mean I’m saying throw out all the advice from the era as well. We can still learn so much from 1950s housewives, that is something I try to show on this blog. Just remember they weren’t perfect and you don’t need to be perfect either.
Realistic Advice from 1950s Housewives
- Meals don’t always have to take a lot of time and ingredients to feed your family well. It’s okay to use quick dinners from time to time.
- You don’t have to make everything yourself. If your budget allows it, go to a local shop instead of taking the time to make it yourself.
- Timesaving appliances are a must.
- Choose a hairstyle that lasts multiple days.
- A bit of lipstick can make you look more put together.
So next time you start feeling bad about your homemaking and wishing you were as perfect as the woman in the 1950s, remember they weren’t meeting that ideal either.