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Seven Reasons I Love Being a 1950s Style Woman

Dear Friends,

Why would a feminist who fought her way almost to the top in a male-dominated profession relish being a 1950s-style woman?  After all, weren’t the 1950s the ultimate in feminine repression?  Here is why I love being a modern retro woman:

#7.  The ubiquitous gelatin concoctions:  Yes, I know everyone makes fun of it but gelatin is useful for more things than just “Jello shots.”  I don’t use it all of the time but you’d be surprised by how many delicious recipes there are that use gelatin.  Sometimes you just need a little gelatin to hold things together.

#6.  The great clothes: Seriously.  Have you seen what “they” are trying to get us to wear?  Ill-fitting-poorly-made clothes that are designed for young women who want to emulate a prostitute.  No thank you.  I prefer modest but pretty clothes designed for women that fit well, thank you very much.

#5. The “We Can Accomplish Anything” optimism: Pessimism and cynicism are the rule of the land these days.  And, if we let it, the toxicity of that attitude pervades all aspects of our lives leaves us emotionally paralyzed and unable to find solutions to problems.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how optimistic and positive I feel now that I’ve stopped watching television, limit my radio (even my beloved All Things Considered and Morning Edition on NPR) and Internet news reading. My mind is free to be optimistic and find creative solutions to road blocks that show up in my life.

#4.  The homemaking as viable noble career option. Conventional wisdom says that women had no choice but to be a homemaker (or teacher or nurse) in the 1950s.  That is simply not true.  For example, both of my grandmothers, my mother, and my mother-in-law all had successful careers.  In fact, my maternal grandmother was a successful businesswoman, owning three beauty parlors, as they were called back then, on Los Angeles’ Westside.  But they viewed themselves as homemakers first.  By most measures, I’ve had a successful career in Higher Education but it was never as satisfying as being a homemaker is to me.

#3.  The ability to be ultra-feminine. I’m not “girly.”  I am ultra-feminine and love, love, love being a woman and all of the rights and responsibilities that go with it.  To me, “girly” gives the impression of never having grown up and diminishes our contributions as women.  I get to bring beauty to the world around me.  I get to be sensuous without being overtly sexual.  I get to be nurturing.  And, for most women, the ultimate in femininity is the ability to give birth and raise children.  When I was a young woman, I was told that in order to be successful, I had to act like a man.  *Phht*  I’m much more successful being true to myself…an ultra-feminine woman.

#2.  The “traditional” value system. In some ways, I feel like our society has careened out of control.  The notion of community and greater good has given way to every man for himself and nobody willing to come to “win-win” solutions anymore.  Thrift has given way to debt.  Personal responsibility has given way to entitlement (yes, I’m also talking to you, college students, who show up an hour or so late for class because you were out clubbing the night before instead of doing your homework and then wonder why you don’t get an “A” in the class).  As for me, I prefer to incorporate Coach John Wooden’s teachings about making “each day a masterpiece” into my life.


#1. I am a “help-meet” to my husband. I know it seems almost blasphemous for a feminist to use the phrase “help-meet” and perhaps the term “wingspouse” would be a less controversial term.  But the point is that my new career as homemaker enables me to work with The Mister toward our mutual success. Consider this: there was a time when a husband and wife worked together to make a farm or a small business a success.  We are simply doing the same thing in a modern world.  I love that our lives are much more integrated now which has led to a deeper and more satisfying relationship.  Yes, I still have my own interests and activities but I’m also using what I learn in ways that will help The Mister be successful, too.  Additionally, we are also much more clear about what our respective “jobs” are in the enterprise known as our little family.  We both are working toward our mutual success in all aspects of our lives.

What about you?  What entices you to be a modern retro woman?

To your fabulous Technicolor life!

Dr. Julie-Ann


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  1. My favorite part of the “Atomic Age”, besides the clothes of course?

    “The “We Can Accomplish Anything” optimism.”

    The 1950s and early 1960s had unbridled optimism that permeated every aspect of life. We went from the overwelming austerity of the Great Depression and WWII to the prosperity of post war America, I attribute this period of history for defining the modern concept of the American dream.

  2. I sometimes wonder if the lack of austerity is where this national feeling of pessimism and cynicism is coming from. Once you’ve been through “Heck” and come out the other end in one piece, there is a sense of euphoria and optimism about life.

  3. I like the simplicity of the 1950s and 1960s. Families seemed more united. They spent more time together without 21st Century distractions like texting, HD televsion, Iphones etc… People seemed more personal bakc then. They spoke to each other, visited each other, connected with each other face to face.

    Also, the values seemed stronger. Children had respect for adults, people had manners and were polite. I think that is why I never had a fondness for the late 1960’s and 1970s. It seemed like we lost so much during that time.

  4. Lisa~It also seems like around the mid-70s the kids that were portrayed on TV started being smart alecs? Even Eddie Haskell would probably be appalled by the way these kids spoke to adults. And it went downhill after that, it seems.

  5. I don’t know that I would want the 50’s or 60’s to come back entirely. I like living in a world with Civil Rights and the Polio Vaccine.

  6. Once upon a time, the position of housewife and the raising of children was considered a noble vocation, worthy of a woman’s time and attention, regardless of the era in question. A woman held high standards for herself, her home, and her children. Meanwhile, she associated with other women to bring higher standards of living to her neighborhood, the community, and the world. This mindset is what interests me.

  7. When I watch old movies I wish the 50’s and 60’s would come back. The women seemed to enjoy life and motherhood way more with way less stress that we do now.

    Love your list and I am on board with all , but gourmet gelatin dishes….


  8. You know what makes me happy? This blog! I just love it! It’s definitely a bright spot in my day.

    Completely agree about how cheerful one feels after limiting TV & radio! I am an NPR fan, also, but I recently stopped listening when I realized it was making frustrated on my commute. Now I listen to old radio shows, and I’m relaxed and in a good mood when I get home from the office. I’ve also stopped reading comments on most blogs (not this one, of course!) because that’s another place for negativity to dwell. As a result, I’ve felt MUCH lighter and happier!

  9. Kathy~ Noble! That was the word I was looking for when writing the post! I’ve changed #4 to reflect it.

    Come on Bibi, gelatin is what held the world together during that time! 🙂

    Sara~The Mister can always tell when I’ve been reading comments at the news sites by how grumpy I get. I try to keep Modern Retro Woman a No Snark Zone. My goal is to create a safe community where we all learn from each other and it can’t be done if the comments are a snark-fest.

    I’m feeling the Modern Retro Love this morning. Thank you. I’ve got two big deadlines this/next week that are trying their best to overwhelm me, but I’m not letting them!

  10. Miranda — As one who remembers the ’50s and ’60s, I thank you for pointing out some shortcomings. I struggled to say it in a way that wouldn’t brand me as pessimistic. I really like coming here and don’t want to be ostracized. I was thinking of McCarthyism, the cold war, civil defense discussions at school that scared me to death, social unrest, the coming of television (which my parents allowed but also discussed as a developing evil), even “the pill,” — factors that signaled societal change and began to undermine the value of the home.

  11. You guys have kind of jumped the gun a little…I’m in the process of writing a post about why I’m glad I’m a MODERN retro woman–the things I’m glad we’ve left in the 50’s. 🙂

  12. As with any time period, there are pros and cons. As much as I focus on the negatives of the late 1960s and early 1970s I’m sure there were good aspects of those years (but definately not the burned orange kitchen curtains with avacado green appliances LOL).

    Kathy, I agree that homemaking was and still is a noble profession or way of life.

  13. I think what I’d like to capture from a retro perspective, besides all of the fantastic attributes you have already listed about (LOVE this post!), would be the sense of wonder and pride in innovation. As a teacher, I feel that too many students look to the future only hoping for financial gain or fame, without much thought about how to better oneself, one’s family or society with their skills and/or knowledge. It makes you look at the world differently, I think, if innovation is valued.

  14. I wish Home Ec would return to our schools! We’re raising a generation that doesn’t know how to cook, sew or do anything around the house!

  15. I agree with you. I couldn’t believe it when I learned it was no longer taught. I had a great time in Home Ec. It certainly would be a benefit to young people to learn these things in school.

  16. Carrot and Pinapple Jello Salad is my FAVORITE. They were even served at my bridal shower :-)!

  17. “Homemaking as a noble career option” = my number one. Horrible that it’s a “retro” idea… hopefully it comes back into fashion. It’s so needed.

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