Is the traditional 1950s housewife making a comeback? In 2022, specifically on TikTok, a trend picked up steam, with wives promoting traditional ideals, such as the need to keep the household in order, make grocery lists, and plan and cook dinners. These new wave housewives, or “tradwives,” are taking pride in prioritizing their family, husband, and home, rather than having a career. It’s also important to note that this trend is centering an identity rooted in male dominance and leadership, and most “tradwives” are primarily white women. Black women housewives are speaking out too though, sharing unique goals and perspectives; there’s even a hashtag, #blackhousewife, with 3.2M views associated with it.
There are Black women housewives more focused on establishing economic security and preserving mental health rather than solely choosing domesticity as an effort to divest from climbing up the corporate ladder and to escape burnout. Some Black housewives are choosing to center their needs and desires while balancing the responsibilities of their households and families, providing them agency to curate their lives and identities how they see fit. Throughout TikTok, you’ll find Black homemakers embracing their femininity and choosing to live what they consider to be the #softlife.
TikToker and lifestyle influencer Dana Chanel recently opened up to her millions of followers about how being with a partner who provides financially allows her to rest in her feminine energy and focus on other things outside of surviving. “In all transparency, I believe I was capable of embracing my full femininity, and my duties as a mother to nurture my children, when I knew for a fact that my husband could provide for us, without my efforts if necessary,” she wrote.
Trish A. White is a stay-at-home mom and wife who believes this way of being a housewife is healthier than what’s being broadcast with the #tradwife trend. “At the heart of being a ‘tradwife,’ you’re submitting yourself to caring for your family, the house, and the kids and not catering to your needs as well, whether it be a hobby or scheduling time for self-care,” she says.
She believes that while the movement does prioritize the importance of family time, women are receiving the short end of the stick, as it’s rooted in the upkeep and care of a man and children, leaving the woman little to no support.
When asked why she embraces being a stay-at-home mom and dutiful wife and if there are any downfalls, she credits her decision to the partnership she has with her husband. “I embrace being a stay-at-home mom and dutiful wife because my husband and I work together. Even in my role, I don’t take on everything. I also allow myself to be soft and schedule time to feel like me again in between taking care of a home and being a mother and wife,” she says.
White also notes that there aren’t many positive examples of Black stay-at-home mothers because, in our culture, we haven’t had the chance to be them, which can impact many Black women’s self-esteem. “The downfall to embracing being a stay-at-home mom is treating it like a corporate job and being so insecure with the fact that we have no real blueprint of a successful black stay-at-home mom that we question our worth and lose ourselves just for the validation of your husband, family members, and friends,” she says.
She continues, “Being a stay-at-home mom, especially one who came from the idea that you go to school and become ‘this boss babe who does it all on her own’ made it hard for me to transition my mindset once becoming a mother. Another major downfall is committing to being a stay-at-home mom without gauging whether or not your relationship is healthy enough to support you in that role. Once I could speak up and share what I needed to feel fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom, I was lucky enough to have a husband to help me balance being a mom and fulfilling my dreams outside of being a stay-at-home mom.”
White doesn’t consider herself a “tradwife” because she allows herself to outsource a full-time nanny, biweekly cleaning services, and grocery delivery services, which make motherhood a lot less stressful for her. While she doesn’t agree with all the tradwife ideologies, she does believe that Black women need to let go of being so strong and independent where they can’t receive and embrace a softer lifestyle. However, she does believe that marriage as a tradwife isn’t the key to escaping burnout.
“I don’t believe any marriage is the key to escaping burnout. I believe you are the key to escaping burnout,” says White. “Even as a stay-at-home wife and mother in the early stages, I took on too much responsibility and created this role in my head. That meant my husband didn’t have to touch a thing when he came home, all because, historically, what I saw my mom do led me to burn out. I will say that instead of any marriage being the key to escaping burnout, a healthy marriage is.”