(Re)Viewing Domesticity and Gender Roles in the 1950s: The Valorization of Housewives in Advertising

Publication Year



Gender, advertising, housewives, 1950s


Art and Design | Business | United States History | Women's History


Magazine advertisements not only served a space in which to be informed of new products, they also helped to visualize the role of women as housewives during the 1950s. This image of housewives worked as a part of the sale strategy of advertisers during the time.

As consumer products act as a source of fetishistic desire, the image of the housewife also acts as a source of fetishistic pleasure. Fetishized objects elicit undeniable reverence; consumer products act as sources of wealth and power while the image of the housewife is meant to induce visual pleasure. The relationship of the image of the housewife to the product interpolates the meaning of the housewife, as her image is circulated in within a political economy of the sign Her image, and, by extension, the product she advertises function as representations of the affluent middle-class lifestyle.

There are visual devices, which I have identified, that are used within advertisements that elucidate the housewife's role as a visual object. By identifying these devices, we are able to see how the image of the housewife is used to sell the product. The housewife's role within society as the submissive, loving caregiver is also alluded to within these advertisements. She becomes an object whose mere purpose is to be looked at.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status


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