If you’re a parent on Instagram, or generally someone who uses Instagram to scroll through current trends then you’ve more than likely already encountered reels of women looking somewhat like a character from a 1950s movie either sewing, baking sourdough bread, gardening, or giving you advice on how to have a successful marriage.
These women, who are fast becoming influencers and popular content creators across a multitude of platforms, are now being coined “tradwifes”. These creators seemed to have traveled back in time, revisiting the 50s and bringing elements of the era back into current-day life, including homemaking and one-income households. One of the main points that tradwifes like to discuss is the rejection of modern-day feminism, and for some creators, this spans into the ultra-conservative political dribble as well.
But, if you haven’t heard of the term and are wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of this popular trend are then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the tradwife community and some of its most prominent figures.
The Trad-Wife Phenomenon Taking Over Social Media
What are TradWifes?
The term tradwife is a combination of the words traditional and wife. This popular term originated in the 1950s, when gender roles were clearly defined, and women usually were the homemakers whilst men would leave the home for work each day to earn an income. A women’s role was to look after her husband, family, and household, which resulted in women not working as most of their time was consumed by tasks such as cleaning, cooking, ironing, and raising children.
Nowadays, gender roles are much more fluid and less defined, as are the roles of parents. In fact, most people now hold the belief that the act of looking after the household and offspring should be a shared endeavor. But in some cases, we’re seeing that women want to adopt this antiquated gender role of being a homemaker – thus being coined a tradwife.
It’s somewhat self-explanatory, although ultimately it encompasses a lot more than just being a housewife, homemaker, or stay-at-home mum.
Being a tradwife is much more than that, it’s an identity, one where the male figure within the household is in a dominant position, with the idea of promoting the act of feminine submissiveness. The tradwife trend seems to oppose all the key points of feminism and in fact, rebels against these principles.
This trend seems to be growing as new social media creators and proponents of the movement grow in popularity and following.
Pros and Cons of the TradWife Movement
At the time of this writing, social media platform such as Instagram is buzzing with influencers and content creators sharing the importance of tradwifery. Some of the main selling points, that are seen across most creators content are the following:
- Tradwifes are religious women who sacrifice their wants and needs, specifically career ambition.
- Tradwifes manage the home.
- Tradwifes are the only party in a marriage responsible for raising children.
- Tradwifes must be submissive and agreeable toward their husband and people outside the home.
The discussion seems to have exploded in virality over the past three years, and glancing at the popular hashtag on social media can make anyone think that women are rejecting modernity in droves, yet the data doesn’t at all support that.
The data from the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that although there seemed to be a spike in the number of women exiting the workforce in 2020, this event was due to the pandemic.
The data shows that there were only 18,2% sole-income families where the male figure was in employment, a major decrease since the 1960s when over 35% of households were one-income based only.
The number of stay-at-home wives has remained pretty steady since 2003, which is more likely due to economic factors rather than ideological ones.
And while platforms such as Instagram can lead us to believe that women are exiting the workforce in droves to become traditional wives, that is just not the case, when in fact, in 2022 and 2023 we’ve seen more women returning to work post-pandemic era.
What happens is that social media has a nifty way of making these niche communities and trends seem all the more widespread, when in reality that’s just not the case. That’s just how the algorithm works!
This can actually be quite dangerous for viewers, especially on a mental health front, because content creators like to depict their lifestyles as easily attainable. Paired with the talking points we mentioned above, and promises of a slower life filled with farm animals, gardening, kid-raising, and homemaking. They make it sound somewhat dreamy, yet while doing so encourage the viewer to self-judge and question their lifestyle choices.
For example, you’re sitting at work and it’s your lunch break so you start scrolling through Instagram reels, you come across a viral video of a stay-at-home mom taking a midday walk with her toddler only to return home to take her freshly baked sourdough bread out of the oven. The content grabs your attention as you spot a photograph of your young child on your desk and wish that you were able to be at home with them right now, so you head to the creator’s profile and consume another ten reels before shutting down your phone to get back to work.
Now, the algorithm is showing you nothing but stay-at-home moms sharing idyllic content that makes you question your own choices, and you begin to think that the tradwife movement is widespread – that you’re missing out and need to adopt these new values.
The battle between tradwifes and the feminist movement is ongoing, and some might say that feminists are taking a hit, especially over the last couple of years.
But, what matters is that whatever you choose is what’s right for you and your family. Whether that’s going out to work a full-time or part-time job, or staying home to raise your children and manage the household. Both are more than respectable paths for women to take.
What matters is that you don’t allow the small glimpses of highly curated content from tradwife influencers to affect your mental health or decision process, as everyone’s circumstances are different and both paths come with their own unique set of challenges.
Most Viral TradWife Creators
Now that you have a better idea about what the tradwife trend is all about, and some of the pros and cons of the movement itself, it’s time to take a look at some of the most prominent figures and influencers in the space.
- Estee Williams
First up we have Estee Williams, a 25-year-old tradwife creator based in Richmond, Virginia. Estee traded her love for working out and athletics for a more feminine lifestyle filled with floral dresses and homemaking.
Estee went viral in February 2023, after her account started to receive major pushback and criticism on Twitter.
Her TikTok account is now home to over 115 thousand followers where she shares short-form clips of traditional wife values, recipes, and homemaking tips.
In one of her viral videos, she discusses how a tradwife is a choice, one that she fully believes in, and addresses that a woman’s place is at home not out in the workforce. She went on to add that no one forced her to follow this lifestyle and that she’s not trying to undo all of the work that women have fought to achieve over the years such as equality, the right to vote, and the abolishment of conventional gender roles.
In another viral TikTok video, Williams shares her opinion on what she believes creates success within a marriage.
“My husband does not have to lift a finger when he is at home. He’s the breadwinner and he goes out as the provider. He works long hours and he does a very physical job. He does not need to come home and help me cook and clean up. But there are times when he just wants to help me every now and then, and that is welcomed, but he absolutely does not have to. A homemaker should have the house ready for when her husband gets home. It should be clean and tidy and there should be a meal on the table for him when he gets home. It should be a really welcoming environment.”
- Cynthia Loewen
Next up is Cynthia Loewen, a content creator whos been sharing about her lifestyle as a homemaker since the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns. She started posting tradwife content before having children, but now she spends her time as a stay-at-home mom of two, which is also reflected in her social media posts.
Loewen has come under scrutiny for describing herself as feminine but anti-feminist movement and old fashioned.
Cynthia has 18 thousand followers on Instagram, at the same time as having an audience on platforms such as TikTok and Youtube as well.
Cynthia also has a blog page where she shares tips on femininity, homemaking, and etiquette.
- Alena Kate Pettitt
Alena is probably one of the most prominent figures within the tradwife movement. She’s a British author, blogger, and influencer, who used to house over 38 thousand followers on her Instagram – she has since deleted her profile and is now focusing solely on her blog and business.
Alena has stated that the reason she ended up as a homemaker is due to feeling constantly tired working as a marketing manager, which would lead to arguments with her partner.
Alena is in her mid-30s and runs a business called “The Darling Academy” which offers resources, articles, tips, and other valuable information, as well as courses in etiquette and femininity.
On her site, she invites her audience to join the “Apron Army,” and states on countless ocassions how husbands should come before anything else.
Alena also has a published etiquette book, where she discusses how modern-day tradwifes may have rejected working a nine to five but that their career is at home and more valuable. Making a point to emphasize the seriousness of housewifery. Yet Alena still claims she is a feminist, because she has had the choice to live the lifestyle she leads.
Alena’s opinion on female submissiveness has also come under fire after a BBC interview where she stated that she submits to her husband and spoils him as if it was 1959, yet on her website she contradicts herself by saying that a tradwife isn’t subservient.
What’s ironic, is that Alena’s social media and business work as a tradwife content creator and course teacher surely counts as a full-time job. This is also the case with other tradwife influencers that claim to reject modern-day workforce culture and claim that women have no place in a work environment yet earn an income from brand collaborations, ad revenue, and other online methods. Some of the most popular figures sell their own books, affiliate products, classes, courses, and other products, in a similar fashion to Alena.
- The Tradwives Club
You can even find the tradwife movement on Twitter, under the name The Tradwives Club.
The Tradwifes Club also has an Instagram account with over 24 thousand followers, where they share content related to the traditional wife lifestyle.
But, while the tradwife movement is trending on social media, it’s not actually a trend that we’re seeing reflected in real life. Thousands of women aren’t quitting the workforce to stay home and bake bread all day. In fact, with inflation increasing to over 6.5% more women are contributing the same amount as their partners to the monthly household income.
There’s definitely room for speculation as to why Petit and other tradwife proponents are opting to return to a lifestyle synonymous with the 1950s. Is it because they genuinely prefer this marital dynamic or is it rooted deeper due to modernity failing them?
Nowadays, women are often times expected to take on a full-time job and also handle the vast majority of household chores and child-rearing. And in the U.S. a country with horrendous parental benefits such as maternity leave paired with insanely expensive childcare – is it truly a wonder why women are opting for a change in the form of traditional values? At closer inspection, the movement appears to be a mere symptom of a greater and more widespread cultural problem.