Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Living The Viva Vintage?, Or Just Plain Loco?

Hubby sent me this link to Jen But Never Jenn's 50s Housewife Experiment; he found it via this post at MetaFilter, which was anything but kind.

This made me think about addressing an underlying question about this blog: Do I live a vintage lifestyle?

The simple answer is, "No, I do not." (And if you've read any of my other blogs, especially Kitsch Slapped, you'd probably know that lol) But the more in-depth answer is that I pick and choose what tips and practices of the past fit the needs of my family and myself.

My reasoning, is two-fold.

One, that I'm too well-aware of the unrealistic expectations of that time, for both genders, to pretend otherwise. As Jen mentioned, and I'm pretty sure I myself have written somewhere, is that the past is far too easily romanticized; we tend to recall and pine for the powerful love story of Casablanca, but forget the realities such as the actual pain of unrequited love and living with someone we are beholden to, but do not love -- let alone recall the wounds of war!

Two, I'm too busy to summarily reject out-of-hand modern conveniences which actually do the work more efficiently and even more cost effectively than if done the way our grandmothers did it.

While I'm too old to just pretend and play house, my age (an astonishingly old -- especially on the Internet! -- 46) and experience does provide me an interesting perspective...

It's true that some of us have overly romanticized the 1950s (or any era, really); but some of us have demonized the past as well. In the process, we've thrown the baby of helpful household tips out with the bathwater of modernism and/or feminism. This "either or" or "all or nothing" thinking has diminished the value of housewives and housework, and, in my opinion, many of the so-called conveniences are anything but -- they've only raised other economic, environmental and health problems, for individuals and our country as a whole.

I'm in the middle of reading a great book about the history of home economics which addresses much of this and, as I'll be reviewing it here, I'll wax on then.

For now I'll just summarize that there's a lot we can learn from the past, practical and otherwise, and I use this blog to help remind us all of it; it's up to each individual to decide what, if anything, is helpful enough for them to reclaim.

Image Credits: Housewife Marjorie McWeeney with Broom Amidst Display of Week's Housework at Bloomingdale's Store, photo by Nina Leen for LIFE magazine.

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