Canadian Journal of Media Studies
Women have long considered home making, parenting, and fashion magazines, addressed directly to them, to be a trusted source for advice and for models of behavior. This trust is problematic given that sample magazine articles from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s show cultural portrayals of motherhood that appear more proscriptive than descriptive. They changed little, although real women’s roles in both the domestic and public realms were undergoing significant shifts. During these decades of Great Depression, World War II, and unprecedented post-war prosperity, women went to school and entered the workplace in growing numbers, changed their reproductive choices, and shifted their decisions to marry and divorce, living more of their lives independent of matrimony. All the while, popular culture’s discourse on the Good Mother held to the same sweet but increasingly stale portrait that failed to address the changes in women’s lives beyond the glossy page.