Vintage Magazines

Fashion, childcare, homemaking and health care
advice were as close as the mailbox to each
homemaker. The family was the center of the
home and female figures were the core.

There was a time when printed periodical media, in other words magazines and newspapers, were centered on people and their family life. While bringing in the news, main stream media’s human interest features and advertisements focused on making life more rewarding by helping families spiral upward, economically and emotionally.  The goal was bettering each person’s vision of what was possible and what they deserved out of life.

Then, as now, selling “new and improved” product advertising was also the purpose, but it is fascinating how older magazines and newspapers focused on those family members living inside the home rather than on unrelated people living outside of the family group. In other words, while there was some mention of Hollywood lifestyles, most of the articles, ads and photos were relevant to the management of the home and its occupants. The focus was local and immediate as people felt celebrity happenings and far off celebrity relationships had no personal relevance.

Magazines didn’t promote unrealistic standards
of wealth, but demonstrated how to improve family
life. See the tag line above: “The key to happiness
and success in over a million farm homes.”

Women’s magazines in particular were emissaries of family values and home life standards that brought homemaking inspiration and camaraderie into the mailbox when the postman delivered. Homemakers were nurtured by the stories, ads and guidance found in magazines from the early 20th century up to and including the 1970s. Vintage magazines were a large part of families isolated in a culture without television and, in some areas of the country, without radio or telephone contact.

Since the 1970s, it seems cultural emphases on homemaking and motherhood have gone onto the back burner. Likewise, magazines have changed their tone from nurturing the woman of the house to pushing her into the corporate world while she tries to do all of the home chores as well without recognition. In addition, it seems what home-life advice there is, many times pushes families to incorporate false values and high levels of consumerism, concentrating on what celebrities and rock stars are doing, rather than encouraging families to relate to each other and to their neighbors in the community.

Most vintage magazines marketed to women have
“home” or “family” on the front. Compare that
to today, when most women’s magazine covers
say “diet,” “sex” or “staying young” while
homemaking magazines are androgynous.

The words “family” and “home” were inseparable in vintage magazines. This created a home sanctuary and a safe place for family members to fall and at that time, most family homes were organized by women.  Then, as now, the family homemaker did not have to be a women, but now, it would be nice to have more literature showing women affirmed and complete in the focused role of being a homemaker. While it was timely in the 1960s and 70s to open up work force options for women who wanted them, it was not good to demean the family group and the traditional “women’s work” that provided for it.

While it is heartwarming to recognize new types of relationships and different types of families, the lack of support for homemakers who happen to be women continues to be glaring. All homemakers should receive support and affirmation, including women who like traditionally feminine rolls. We need to move away from presenting women, who are married with children as “burdened” as all people and their vocations of choice have value.

 

Inner Peace For Busy Women

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Inner Peace for Busy Women: Balancing Work, Family, and Your Inner Life


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