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katie-britt-sotu.jpg

The Dangerous Lie Of 'TradWives'

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | March 11, 2024 |

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | March 11, 2024 |


katie-britt-sotu.jpg

“Tradwife Influencer” is a hot topic and a lucrative hustle these days. But it’s just another MLM scheme like Arbonne, Primerica, and Lularoe. These influencers, who amass as many detractors as they do followers on TikTok, are selling women on the fiction of “traditional” marriage (read 1940s and ’50s white, middle-class American) that is no longer achievable, or even necessarily desirable. In most cases, these women aren’t even living the Tradwife Life they espouse on Social Media.

Take popular TradWife Influencer Nara Smith, for example. She and her husband, Lucky Blue Smith, are both models and social media moguls —and Mormons. Their kids have very normal, traditional names: Rumble Honey, Slim Easy, and Gravity.

Many of Smith’s TikTok videos are of her doing ridiculous things most of us have no time for, like making homemade cereal and Oreo cookies. Her aesthetic is luxurious neutral tones and the occasional piece of lingerie. Unlike the wives of yore, whose lives she would have you believe she emulates, Smith has money to burn. Her skincare routine involves products by Primally Pure, a company that makes a $16 deodorant stick. She shops at Williams Sonoma, buys new Apple products, and presents a spartan home without decor. That’s how the rich live these days. Having nothing on display in your home is a total flex.

@naraazizasmith my new babies!! truly a pinch me moment 🫶🏽 #unboxing #shopping #luxurybag #bottegaveneta #luxurybagunboxing #fypツ #cooking ♬ original sound - Nara Smith

None of this is “traditional.” My grandmother was “traditional.” She wore a housecoat with buttons up the front, her hair in a net when she cooked, and my grandparents’ home was cluttered with family photos and knickknacks. Her kitchen always smelled like something delicious. Nara Smith’s kitchen looks like it smells of fresh paint and Lysol. And she dresses like a Stepford Wife expecting diplomats for dinner, not like she’s cooking for three kids under 5.

BallerinaFarm, another popular Tradwife TikToker, at least dresses the part in smocks and aprons. But the Mormon mom of eight, whose real name is Hannah Neeleman, is married to the son of JetBlue’s Founder and is worth somewhere around $400 million. You can buy a lot of free time to bake homemade bread and start an online store that stocks six different kinds of salt with that kind of money. If you look carefully at the ‘rustic” home in her videos, you begin to notice things like the AGA stove, which retails for around $40,000 according to a cursory Google search. She’s also a Juilliard-trained ballerina and was recently crowned as the Mrs. World Pageant winner. All of which screams “Traditional Housewife.”

@ballerinafarm

We were suppose to go to rodeo practice too but decided we didnt want to brave the cold 😎. Love making food for my crew.

♬ original sound - Ballerina Farm

Women like Smith and Neeleman have millions of followers across their monetized social media channels and have influenced other women to become influencers, who, in turn, influence other women to follow in their footsteps.

Mikaela, who posts on TikTok as Mikaela_homemaking, speaks a lot about being a good Christian woman, touching on the importance of modesty, homeschooling, and being submissive to her husband. In one of her videos, she encourages SAHMs to become “influencers” to make extra income. “Even if you only make $11 a month, that may be $11 that blesses your family.”

She posts little videos like this one, which is laughable when you can see how well-appointed her house is in her other posts. These are not “poor” people. But, like BallerinaFarm, she’d really like us to believe the lie.

@mikaela_homemaking Please say it’s not all Starbucks & Target runs for everyone?!?!? 😬😅 This is not me complaining because I LOVE my life but I can’t be the only one on here who lives on a budget! #foryou #mom #sahm #sahmlife #homemaker #coffee #homemadefood #bread #fromscratch #sacrafice ♬ Possibility - Lykke Li

Mikaela has almost 85k followers on TikTok and far fewer on other platforms. She may not yet be as “influential” as BallerinaFarm or Nara Smith, but she’s working on it. Her YouTube channel banner proudly announces her belief in “Traditional American Values.” It’s women like Mikaela and her followers the GOP was trying to reach last week when they gave the State Of The Union response to Katie Britt, the junior Senator from Alabama.

Britt, whose speech was lampooned by SNL over the weekend, had on her Tradwife cosplay that night. In strong contrast to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert she was the image of the “traditional” American housewife with her GCB crucifix peeking out from beneath a tastefully modest blouse.

Seated at her cozy kitchen table, Britt give a speech that became progressively more unhinged as she went on in her performative “fundie baby voice.” It was an act not unlike BallerinaFarm’s, designed to appeal to predominantly white women who see themselves as upholding a lifestyle and personal values that were set aside decades ago when American women decided we would be better off if we could have our own bank accounts and credit cards.

As many journalists were quick to point out, Britt is anything but a traditional housewife herself. And she probably hasn’t seen the inside of her own kitchen in weeks since she’s required to spend so much time in DC as a Senator. This is a well-off family; her husband previously played for the New England Patriots and is now a state lobbyist (as well as her campaign chairman.) And Senator Britt probably has plenty of help keeping the house clean and her children fed. I can neither confirm nor deny if her kids get homemade Pop-Tarts, but my money’s on no.

Activist and Social Media personality Brittany Packnett Cunningham came out swinging the day after the SotU to explain what a lot of Black women put together a long time ago. The rise of Andrew Tate and his ilk in the manosphere necessitated a return to traditional womanhood. All of this is part of a coordinated effort by Christian conservatives to win back the social narrative from a generation of women that is opting out of marriage, having children later (if they have them at all), and shouting out their abortion stories.

Like their Men’s Rights Activist counterparts, the TradWives are just the newest page in the playbook that the GOP and its Christian Conservative coalition have turned to to win hearts and minds in America’s neverending socio-political battle. When Ron DeSantis’ campaign of hate flamed out spectacularly before the primaries even began, the GOP needed a kinder, gentler approach. And who’s more kind and gentle than a TradWife?

We know that social media TradWives are selling lies, just like the lies Katie Britt told during her speech and perpetuated in her delivery. Eventually, the truth will be revealed in all of their acts (remember when everyone thought Ree Drummond was just a sweet ol’ ranch wife?) We just need to make sure they don’t beat us to the ballot box before then.