Meet The ‘Trad Wives’ Dividing The Internet

Influencers like Nara Smith are embracing old-school gender roles on social media.

Meet the Tradwives

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

Imagine the scene: you’ve woken up to your children asking if they can have cereal for breakfast. It’s 7am and you’re heavily pregnant. Do you throw some Nesquik in a bowl and be done with it? No, you put on your silk dressing gown, apply a full face of make-up (smoky eye included) and style your hair into the perfect ‘clean girl’ bun before heading to your immaculate kitchen to get started on a fresh batch of baking.

You rustle up two types of cereal, chocolate chip cookie and cocoa puffs, from scratch. The whole thing appears to take no time at all, and somehow there is no mess anywhere at any part of this process, no ‘hangry’ screaming toddlers distracting you every 10 seconds, not even a hair out of place. Welcome to the life of 22-year-old Nara Smith, a model-turned-influencer and the internet’s latest ‘Trad Wife’ hero.

TikTok’s traditional wives are the US equivalent of stay-at-home mums, but with a twist. Far from the modern housewife fighting to legitimise how hard she works, Trad Wife influencers intend to make child-rearing and homemaking seem easy. They embrace old-school gender roles with a smile that never falters, and their followers endlessly celebrate them as ‘real women’.

Nara (@naraazizasmith), who has two children under three and a third on the way, currently has 2.3 million followers and her viral videos have amassed nearly 100 million likes. To be clear, she’s never self-identified as a Trad Wife – the internet has just claimed her as one. She’s even made the disclaimer that she cooks for her family because it’s her ‘love language’, not because it’s expected of her, but nevertheless her content neatly fits into the Trad Wife trifecta of virality: a beautiful, groomed, tranquil woman in an impeccably clean kitchen, making every meal from scratch, while well-behaved children play patiently in the background.

In the occasional video, you’ll see her husband pop in to caress her pregnant belly. He happens to be Lucky Blue Smith, 25, who Millennials will remember from his meteoric rise to modelling fame in 2015, when his platinum blonde hair and bright blue eyes forged an obsessive fandom on blogging site Tumblr. Now, his TikTok content consists of styling videos, romantic montages of him and Nara (sometimes sponsored by Calvin Klein, of course) plus mornings spent reading scriptures from the Book Of Mormon.

That’s the other factor here: religion. While not all Trad Wives are religious, many are Mormon or fundamentalist Christian – religions that promote traditional gender roles. So too is Hannah Neeleman, the perhaps unintentional queen of the Trad Wife charge, known as @BallerinaFarm on TikTok. With near 7 million followers, Hannah posts organic cooking videos from the rustic corner of her farmhouse kitchen with her eight children in tow. Except the quaint-seeming farmhouse is actually on a 328-acre ranch, in Kamas Utah, which she shares with husband Daniel, heir to a £315 million fortune built by aviation businessman David Neeleman.

Hannah’s most viral videos came when she announced she was taking part in the Mrs World pageant just 10 days after giving birth to her eighth baby. Now, self-proclaimed Trad Wife accounts are popping up everywhere. Estee Williams, who boasts online about ‘submitting’ to her husband, has 150,000 followers. Gwen The Milkmaid, who made her fortune on OnlyFans, now posts homemaking content to 66,000 followers after ‘finding God’. Alexia Delarosa smiles so fixedly in every video while she bakes and homeschools her ‘42-month-old’, she is almost a Trad Wife caricature, and there is an ongoing debate as to whether her posts are actually satire.

But how has this content become so popular? It’s not just misogynistic men desperate for a submissive wife who fill the comment sections, it’s everyday women too, of all ages. Caro Claire Burke, a media critic who has been investigating the growth of Trad Wife influencers, thinks it’s down to the way the working women who want children have been failed by society.

‘In America [like the UK], our childcare situation is abysmal, there is no support for working families,’ Burke says. ‘Now there are so many women who are looking at these idealised versions of motherhood – or women to whom mothering isn’t mmediately associated with financial stress – and it’s so addictive to watch because it’s something we just can’t get right.

‘These women are homemakers but they’re also businesswomen profiting off this performance of homemaking. They’re inordinately wealthy... enjoying their lives cooking these beautiful meals and spending time with their children, it’s like the one major thing woman can’t have – a successful career and be with your children.’

Burke doesn’t think Trad Wife influencers themselves are consciously indoctrinating women into a subservient lifestyle, which they’ve been accused of. ‘I think this is more about the addiction of social media success,’ she says. ‘These women all have a long history of trying different types of content, but when you find something that works you don’t stray from it.’

Our inability as viewers not to engage, despite having complex feelings around it, is exactly what proves this is a serious cultural moment rather than yet another airless viral trend, Burke says. Whether you like it or not, the Trad Wife movement is only just getting started.

Georgia Aspinall is features editor at Grazia UK and writes regularly about sex and relationships. She has investigated all of the best sex positions, sex toys and speaks to women regularly about the realities of their sex lives now.

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