The Nineteen Fifties Housewife Returns

Posted by Lisa LaGrou January 7, 2009 OCM Blog

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altI read a recent article by Kylie Hansen titled “Return of the 1950s housewife?” in The Advertiser. It discussed how there has been an emergence of the old-fashioned housewife – with younger women embracing traditional domestic crafts, i.e. sewing, cooking, and gardening. Is the 1950’s housewife making a comeback? There have even been reported increases in fabric sales, purchases of sewing machines, demands for sewing classes, knitting yarn sales (a whopping 10-20 percent increase), home-cooked meals, and gardening. Sales of tomatoes plants are hot, as are beans, peas and herbs. 

Amid all the discussions of recession, profit declines, and big business losses, we are hearing about industries experiencing upswings? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? In actuality, it’s not odd at all, and I don’t know if I would consider it to be the best news either.

First, the way I see it is that the downturn in the economy has forced our generation into a survival mode. With many people out of work, people are doing what they can to make ends meet. Women, who either have lost their jobs, and/or whose husbands have lost their jobs, are trying to be sensible and frugal with their spending habits. There are many moments lately where we have to look around us and ask ourselves, “Ok, what can we scale back on…where can we make some cuts so that we can save a few bucks each month?” 

Second, I wouldn’t say that women today are looking to be June Cleaver again. This is not the 1950’s. This new trend of increases in domestic crafts is not by choice, but rather a necessity.  Today’s woman is driven and sometimes holds a part-time or full-time job in addition to maintaining the household.  She is busier than ever, and doesn’t usually have time to sit back and think of what new hobbies she would like to explore. She also knows how to adapt when things go wrong. Hence, the sewing machine.

These women are adjusting to the situations around them. I have seen many who have had to make big changes in their lives because of recent occurrences. They’re not easy changes, but necessary ones. Nobody likes to give up the finer things in life, but sometimes we need to scale back a bit and get back to the simpler things in life. 

Maybe these not-so-new frugal methods would be an important lesson for the big businesses who are now struggling. Maybe they need to break things down, simplify the process and restructure how they work. It’s time to cut out the unnecessary expenses and get back to the basics.  I was 100% supportive and hoping for the financial assistance to the automotive industry. I was relieved when the loans were granted because I felt it was vital to our nation’s economy. Now, I just hope that the companies rethink how they do things and use the funds appropriately. They might even benefit if they could incorporate a little bit of the “housewife” mentality.

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