Beauty School Dropout

Hardly a day passes when I don't read something related to the struggle of the modern day woman to balance her lifestyle. Today, hidden in some dusty corner on an old USB, I came across a piece I wrote some time ago deliberating this quandary. Whilst I am not a wife, or a mother, I have witnessed the problems that women face nowadays, and thought I would share this piece, just as a humorous reminder that  whilst we all possess many admirable, individual qualities, we don't need to try and be superhuman. Speaking as (I fear) an eternally unorganised young lady who finds it problematic balancing essays and blog writing, I have huge admiration for the working woman. I hope you enjoy the piece!

The days when sugar-coated fifties’ housewives seemed content to bathe in the joys of domestic proficiency and weekly Tupperware parties now seems a comical remnant in the historical tapestry of the female lifestyle. Society is happy to believe they perished in the wilderness of time long ago, alongside hostess trolleys and conical bras.

 But are women of the modern day really significantly liberated than from times past? Are we unfairly bridled with too much responsibility? We can laugh at the so-called captivity of the fifties’ lady bridled by a floral pinny but are we really the free spirits we humour ourselves to be? More importantly, what is the role of the modern woman?

Role One: Career Woman

Revolutionary though it may have been for a domestic deity of the fifties to sample the newfound follies of secretarial work, modern women are all too aware of the pressures in society of holding down a respectable profession. The Intelligent Woman’s Guide To Good Taste, by Susan Chitty, published in 1958 purports that it is “perfectly respectable to be an unskilled worker”, and startingly that the “least important thing about a job is being good at it.”

Sadly, this wishful thinking is rendered well and truly redundant in a world where qualifications, company training courses, and a comprehensive knowledge of technical jargon are all adversities we must overcome in the minefield that is being a professional. Women are all too aware of the impending electric bill and the new school clothes you have to buy the kids weekly as their growth spurts pull your purse strings.

But household expenses and children aren’t the only reason careers seem to be a big priority for the modern woman. We take pride in the fact that we are intellectual equals to men, and can match them with our degrees as well as with our pay packets. We don’t want to be confined to the kitchen where the extent of our mental capacity stretches to perfecting ‘coq au vin’. Climbing the career ladder through hard work and proficiency in our jobs equates to a huge sense of personal fulfilment and satisfaction, something that in my opinion, reaching competence in cuisine just can’t rival.

Role Two: Doting Wife

One choice phrase from “Housekeeping Monthly” in 1955 states that women should “Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return”.

Nowadays the absurdity of living in a shadow of subservience to men and cooking soufflés make us cackle at the fifties housewife life. Some champion the antics of the spontaneous Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, whom Austen created to challenge conventions of feminity and sexual inequality, influenced of course, by the renowned Mary Wollstonecraft. But back in the day, what to cook for their spouse’s evening meal was a genuine concern for most women.

Even though the modern day wife may be up to her nylon clad-neck in the stresses of work and her unruly brood of kids, some women might like to fulfil their husband’s hopes of looking perfectly groomed, cooking a meal from scratch and vacuuming a little from time to time. Sometimes it is a fight to fit those things into our quotidian lives.

But reality dictates that that spreadsheets and parents evenings take priority over trying a little fifties wifely finesse. One could argue that women are repressed as much in the
modern day by the pressure to be a super spouse, hold down a high-powered career and nurture the children as we were in the fifties.

 There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in baking a resplendent blancmange for our husband’s if that’s what takes our fancy. Similarly, bequeathing the domestic chores over to our husband is fine if we want to mow the lawn. What women are witnessing in the modern day is a disproportionate amount of responsibilities being shouldered because of the culture of the “super-mum”. If duties are shared equally between husband and wife, even I might be tempted in the future to embrace my inner domestic goddess and take flight with the feather duster.

I cannot say that I would don a prom dress and pearls though. Regretfully, my old faithful jogging bottoms and pineapple style ponytail style cannot compete with the polish and grace of the fifties lady. I am a self-confessed Beauty School Dropout; when at home, at least.

Role Three: Super Mum

Many a time I’ve witnessed a beleaguered mother’s anguish as she informs the other mothers’ at the school gates that her multiple talents do not encompass whipping up an angel costume for the nativity play with one night’s notice.

In between juggling a career and expectations of performing household chores, women also have to nurture their offspring so as to ensure they become well educated, responsible, rounded citizens.

Simple? Not so. My mother had five children and I can honestly say I have no idea how she had time to check whether we had our P.E kits, packed lunches and our slip of parental consent saying we could go on Friday’s trip to the activity centre; let alone run her own business at the same time.

The 1950’s “Housekeeping Monthly” has an epigrammatically short reference to one’s wide-eyed brood, in the context of appeasing The Husband. “Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and face, comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part”.

And finally…That elusive work/life balance

So we’ve established that the squeaky clean fifties housewife belongs to a bygone era. But before we all lose ourselves in a celebration of empowered femininity, the modern women should take a step back and review her life before we all fall prey to the womanly neologisms that society has spawned. Essentially, it doesn’t really matter what principles we adopt in our lifestyles. But we also must remind ourselves (and others) that sadly, women do not spontaneously mutate into a tentacled power house every time there’s a spot of multi-tasking to be done. It’s all about equality. In my opinion, relationships should be based on mutual support and compromise for both sexes if those mercurial temptresses, sanity and reality, condescend to stay around.


  1. Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog! Your blog looks great and love your hairstyle!

    1. Your welcome! It's a lovely blog. I will follow you on bloglovin' if you would like to do the same? :)

    2. Thanks! I start followin you now :-) I am happy that you want to follow me.

  2. You make such crucial points about "modern women" and our roles in society then and now. "Beauty school drop out" is a good way of putting it. As women we are expected to be able to balance every aspect of our lives. Plus the remnants of the 50's "domestic" glamorous woman is still prevalent today even though women's roles and occupations have gone beyond the domestic sphere. Having to balance these roles is not easy, and socially, is unfair..if "beauty" is lost in all this craziness..then that's just the way it is.
    Great blog post. I'm enjoying reading your entries :)

  3. Thank you for commenting Charie, I do appreciate it. There definitely should be less emphasis on female appearance and we are yet to get over that hurdle. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my ramblings :) x


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