A super-bright career woman who studied Japanese at university but quit work to become a fully-fledged 1950s-style housewife has hit back at critics who call her “anti-feminist” – and insists she is “happier than ever. ”
Jayne Hall is part of a growing movement of so-called “tradwives” – short for traditional wives” who choose to adhere to old-fashioned gender stereotypes.
It casts men as ‘breadwinners’ and charges women with creating domestic bliss for their partners.
Jayne was a retail manager before studying Japanese at university and eventually becoming a swimming teacher, but her ambitions did a U-turn as she went from working full-time to part-time to focusing on cooking and cleaning for her partner and their sons from previous relationships.
Still earning what she calls “pin money” for the family, Jayne, of Blyth, Northumberland, had hoped to one day opening her own swimming school, but lockdown meant she became a full-time housewife – even dressing in 1950s gear and using vintage appliances.
The 45-year-old now says she no longer wants to return to work again.
Responding to critics who say tradwives’ attitudes are “outdated,” she said: “I am very grateful to women who have fought for equal rights and know that sexism still exists in the world, but that’s not what is happening here.
“Being a tradwife, making my family home lovely and having my partner’s dinner on the table when he gets home from work is my choice – not his.
“Living this way makes me happy.
“I’m not being held back, and I’m certainly not disrespecting feminism by being a tradwife.
“As women, we should understand that it’s about choice. There is no one set way to be a woman and, just as I don’t belittle women who go to work, they shouldn’t belittle me.”
Jayne left school with no qualfications but threw herself into work.
After having her son, who is now 12, with her ex-husband, she decided to become a mature student – returning to college, sitting A levels and landing a place at university studying Japanese language and culture.
She then pursued her love of swimming and retrained so she could teach the sport.
But Jaye now says she wasn’t happy in her “very feminist, independent life”.
She added: “As a bigger girl, I never wanted to draw attention to myself. I’d see women sometimes in beautiful, glamorous dresses and think, ‘I wish I was brave enough to wear that.’”
A single mother for some time, after her marriage ended, her independence gave her more confidence and she met Allan, who works in engineering, online seven years ago.
She said: “I wanted somebody who would cherish me and give as much as they took from the relationship. That’s exactly what I found in Allan. We’re very similar, and grow together.”
Jayne says she was exhausted after each day at work, followed by lesson planning in the evening and seeing to her house and family.
She started working part-time – but at the beginning of this year handed her notice in at work.
She hoped to focus on opening her own swim school but enjoyed being a full-time housewife during lockdown so much that she has decided not to resume her career.
She said: “I feel mentally much better and on top of things more. The house is tidy, the garden looks lovely, the kids are happy and I’m more able to support Allan, who has a stressful job.”
Now, not only is Jayne living as a 1950s housewife – she is looking like one too, after buying a red lipstick in a vintage shop changed everything.
She has now ditched all her modern clothing in favour of 1950s styles, which will either be retro-look copycats, or genuinely vintage, mostly bought online from stores like Miss Candyfloss, Love Your Look and Popsy.
Jayne also wears vintage-inspired makeup and sets her hair in rollers – but says that unlike some women in the 1950s, she doesn’t get up before Allan to do her hair and makeup.
Her house is also decorated in a 1940s and 50s style, and all her furniture is vintage, with retro appliances in the kitchen.
Jayne has joined a Facebook group full of like-minded women who share homemaking tips and tricks online.
She hopes that speaking out will show that she can be a tradwife and a feminist.
She said: “I wish I had started living this way years ago. I’ve never been happier.
“Being a kept woman is seen as lazy, or old-fashioned, but I have had the opportunity to be whatever I want, and I choose this.”
Day-to-day, Jayne’s routine varies, but mostly, she will get up to fix breakfast for the rest of the family, before airing the beds, which are made up with vintage bedding, including wool blankets and feather eiderdown.
Next, she gets herself ready then works through laundry, washing up and various other household chores.
She may then decide to spend the afternoon baking, or gardening, before starting the evening dinner – which often includes some of the fruit and vegetables she grows herself, or a recipe from a vintage cookbook.
She said: “It’s never set in stone, and that’s not to say the rest of the family don’t sometimes cook and clean, too.”