A Modern Twist on a Traditional American Family Ideal from the 1950's

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Depictions of families in the 1950s were extreme in a myriad of ways. The notion of a “nuclear family,” in which a husband, wife and their children were considered the smallest unit of our society, became incredibly popular. Husbands and wives each seemed to have particular roles and duties from which they couldn’t stray. The husband, of course, was a working man responsible for bringing money to the household. His wife worked on something else: their household itself. She cleaned, cooked, and decorated. She bought groceries and clothing for everybody. She watched their children, fed them, and took care of them. In the 1950s, advertising advocated these roles and these roles alone: straying from them was rather unthinkable. The “nuclear…show more content…
This is suggested by the fact that the image is completely styled in light colors, with both characters wearing shades of pink. The entire situation is given an aura of femininity, distancing itself from where a man would be. Presumably, he is working instead, raising money for his wife to pay for the groceries. The advertisement presents a lesson that a husband’s job is completely separate from keeping kids healthy or doing household chores. These roles within the nuclear family are exactly what was depicted in the 1950s. These ideals support that “a woman would be immature ‘if she wants all the advantages of marriage’ but resents doing housework, and a man would be less-than-grown-up if he shirked the bread-winner role” (Ehrenreich 17-18). The threat of being perceived as less mature than other adults is pervasive in the modern advertisement, and carried over from 1950s ideology. This threat creates a subtle pressure in the advertisement that carries 1950s attitudes into modernity. There is pressure on the reader of the advertisement to be a responsible, capable parent. In the 1950s, this “involved a reduction in the moral aspect of domesticity and an expansion of its orientation toward personal service” (Coontz 27). The advertisement continues this trend: while the copy states that the company has stopped targeting children, it hardly gives a reason. The closest is that “parents tell [Coca-Cola] they prefer to
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