You are probably familiar with the 1972 satirical novel by Ira Levin “The Stepford Wives.” The classic novel was turned into a movie in 1975 then remade in 2004. Basically, Stepford is a fictious Connecticut neighborhood where the women are perfectly groomed housewives who serve their husbands and children in what is a seemingly idyllic community. I recently watched the 2004 movie version of the book and it caused me to pause and think a minute. As I watched, I saw the Stepford wives dressed in 1940s & 1950s attire, their hair perfectly coiffed, keeping impressively neat homes, and making the world’s best baked goods and meals. The husbands enjoy the homemaking provided by these seemingly perfect ladies. The women were all former executives, CEOs, judges, and scientists prior to being transformed into Stepford Wives. As I watched the movie, I suddenly realized that I too was a Stepford wife. Not by force but by choice. After all, what is wrong with the Stepford community concept?
s it really all that wrong to want to look good, dress nicely, keep a neat house, cook, bake, and take care of your husband and family? Isn’t that what our grandmothers did only a few decades ago? As I examined Stepford more closely, I realized that my life was a non-intended parody of the movie. After all, I started out wanting to be a wife, mom, and homemaker just like my mother was, her mother was, and so on. Truth be told, being a wife and homemaker was all I really ever wanted to do. In the beginning, I had no desire to be a communications director, keep hideous hours, work endless days and nights away from my family, become a slave to a high salary and great medical benefits, endure high stress and chest pains, and be trapped daily in an office with no windows. I spent 31 years trapped in a career that I didn’t want but got anyway. For three decades, I kept my nose to the grindstone, carving out a good career and a nice paycheck for me and my family. They say everything happens for a reason and I fervently believe this. When I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis back in 2000, I had no idea that my pain and discomfort would end up forcing me to retire early. Call if fate, but RA played a key role in helping me choose Stepford. In 2020, when the pandemic was all a rage, I made the decision to retire. My health was dictating my choices and I was more than ok with giving into its demands. Little did I know that my decision to retire early would launch me into the Stepford life complete with baking, homemaking, vintage fashion, and a retro lifestyle.
Long before I saw “The Stepford Wives” I fell in love with vintage clothing, the lifestyle of the 1940s & 50s, the classic cars, and a simpler less complicated way of living. I longed to live in the era that my parents once enjoyed. A time when family dinners were a daily ritual not a special occasion, when women looked and acted like ladies and men looked and acted like gentlemen, when houses were homes, and the family unit was all that mattered. It was a time before Google, shopping malls, supermarkets, microwaves, and leggings. I always used to tell my mom, “I was born in the wrong era.” I realized that as a retiree, I was at liberty to do as I please. No more job or public image to live up to. I was free to be myself and not worry about what others thought of me. That is the moment when I willingly chose to become a Stepford Wife. Laugh if you will but becoming a Stepford wife was one of the best decisions I ever made. For the first time in my life, I was truly happy doing the things I loved, in the home I loved, for the people I loved. I had found my utopia!
Unlike the ladies of Stepford who were tricked into the 1950s lifestyle, I willingly chose to wear dresses every day, make sure that my make up and hair were always done, make my bread from scratch, and keep a cleaning schedule to make sure my home is always neat and tidy. My husband also did not insist on a 1950s wife and life. On the contrary, my wonderful hubby has always supported me in my career choices and was the wind beneath my wings and I learned my PR craft well throughout my 31 years. He has always been an independent man capable of taking good care of himself, a house, and his life. He never needed a wife to fill those roles, but he is always appreciative of my efforts as a vintage housewife. Not every man could adapt easily to a wife going from a full-time career woman to a vintage housewife, but my husband embraced the change.
Although I get the more than occasional look of surprise when I walk into a store wearing my vintage hats and gloves, I wouldn’t trade my choice to live a Stepford wife life for anything. No, this way of life is not for everyone. My life is no longer filled with business suits, pointless meetings, travel, or long hours. It now consists of cleaning schedules, baking, and enjoying my life one day at a time. Am I bored? Not a bit. I have a large house and it takes a lot of planning to take care of it. Everyone needs to choose the path they want to walk on during this brief journey. For me, I am proud to be living a vintage life. I am finally happy living the Stepford life as a Stepford wife – and I couldn’t be happier! 💋