Trapped in the Kitchen: How Advertising Defined Women's Roles in 1950s America




Catt, Courtney

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This thesis examines the portrayal of middle-class women and their role in 1950's America. The primary evidence comes from advertisements published in four popular magazines of the decade: Saturday Evening Post, LIFE, Good Housekeeping, and Ladies Home Journal. These advertisements primarily limited the placement of women into two overlapping molds, the wife and mother, perpetuating specific qualities that women should uphold to succeed in these roles. The ideal wife of advertising was eager, domestic, and competitive. The ideal mother then built off those qualities to become pleasing, nourishing, and thrifty for her family. Advertising also demonstrated the need for training young girls to prepare them for such duties. Lastly, advertising assumed that even when portrayed in different settings, a woman is never disconnected from her role as wife or mother. Lastly, an analytical comparison is made between the reality of 1950's women and their idealized, advertised roles.



History., Women's History., Advertising., 1950s America.