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Tradwives are once again at the center of online discourse. Tradwives, short for traditional wives, is a self-identifying term for women who prefer to be stay-at-home wives, cooking and cleaning while their husband is at work during the day.
On TikTok, this often looks like romanticizing a different era in America—namely the 1950s and 1960s—which is depicted on TV shows like Mad Men. Influencers who identify as a tradwife usually wear vintage-style clothing and make videos about their marriage practices, which usually involve doing most of the cooking for their husband and letting him be the deciding factor on big purchases.
The videos from one tradwife influencer, 25-year-old Estee Williams, drove the majority of the discourse over the past week. After a TikTok video from Williams was shared on Twitter—which shows a montage of her cooking and doing her hair and makeup, set to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”—it went viral and sparked a debate about tradwives. The text overlay at the beginning of Williams’ video says, “While the world continues to condemn traditional wives…,” which is the part that people focused on the most.
“Americans got psyoped into thinking a tradwife is simply one that looks after herself aesthetically and cooks food when that’s just what’s expected about any adult,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another video shared on Twitter, which has more than 2 million views, shows Williams in what one user referred to as “Marilyn Monroe cosplay”. The quote tweets are a mix of people piling on and others saying to leave her alone.
In interviews, Williams has defended her choices. Last fall, she told Insider that she chooses to “promote this lifestyle to showcase the fulfillment this lifestyle gives.
Why it matters
Women in America can make their own choice whether to work or not—although other choices about our lives are currently being taken away.
However, it’s not always practical: with rising costs of rent and food, a two-income household makes more sense for most couples. Living off of one person’s salary in 2023 is difficult. However, no one is saying it’s not something you should do if that’s what works for you.
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