Monday, February 05, 2007

Apron Power!

Barbara Curtis over at Mommy Life recently hosted a contest for women who love aprons. It's over now, but pictures are up at Picasa Web Albums - Barbara - Apron Power!.

I applaud Barbara's comment explaining her contest:

I say it's time to bring back the apron - and I don't mean the unisex cloth chef's apron, but the frilly feminine - even to the point of useless - kind.

What's funny (or perhaps sad) is that up until last fall I might not have agreed. I remember that we were required to make aprons in home-ec class at school, but we were embarrassed about it. My friends and I didn't want to be caught dead in an apron. We were beyond aprons.

Last fall, I chanced upon some cheap (I mean $1.99 cheap) aprons at a local store. Feeling faintly ridiculous, I bought one, just because it seemed it might be practical to have one, and because I really liked the colors. If nothing else, I told myself, it would be a nice decorative touch, hanging on the wall.

Practical it has been (and how). But more than that, it has been fun. I've got two aprons now, both rather the chef's kind but in vintage prints (to go with my wonderful old-fashioned kitchen), and I'm thinking of making some frillier ones. Just because I feel like it.

Barbara elaborates in a post called Further thoughts on aprons:

As I told you in the beginning, I just started wearing an apron a year ago. It was only after the contest began that I "got" the significance of the apron - how feminism had changed it into a symbol of oppression. Funny how all those little womanly things that were passed down for generations were thrown out the window and now people like Martha Stewart make a fortune teaching us how to do them again :)

So my question is, have any of you had any further thoughts on the significance of aprons? Have any of you tried them for the first time and found them to be empowering? How about the fact that your clothes stay cleaner? :)

I think she's on to something. I'm having a grand time rediscovering the worthwhile know-how and wisdom and heritage and folkways that were given unwarranted bad press (or suppressed, or reinterpreted out of all recognition) in my formative years.

Like aprons.

I felt uncomfortable putting one on that first time, several weeks ago. Sheepish, you might say. Bad steers from bad company in your younger years can linger, worse the luck.

Then I went through a very brief defiant stage, a la Take that, you misguided mentors of my youth! I've outgrown you! I CAN wear an apron!

(Childish, I know. But there it is. Does it help any that it was just a flash, gone as quickly as it came?)

And now? Now those aprons are a part of my everyday routine. They make working in the kitchen easier. And they bring a smile to my face. They fit. Not literally. I'm short and they don't fit me well, but I've decided aprons in general are my style.

So's helping to run a business. And writing. And studying. And trying to learn something every day. (And blogging, when I've got the time. You might have noticed that.) And being neighborly. You know, trying to be a well-rounded, complete human being, improving as I go, if I can, but never (I hope) taking myself too seriously.

Tell me again why we ever bought into the ridiculous notions that a woman who liked being mistress of her domain - who enjoyed running a home - had taken two steps back and was somehow letting other women down? That wearing an apron was a badge of shame? Puleeze. How provincial can you get?

Feminists tend to panic too easily, I've decided.

That's their problem. Heh. Aprons for me, please.

Addition: Randi has a tutorial for making a "Mommy's Little Helper Kitchen Apron".

Addition: (via SFO Mom) My goodness, the blogger The Kitchen Madonna is organizing a National Wear an Apron Day! (An Apron Manifesto or How to Get All Tied up with Apron Strings of Love, The Kitchen Madonna, January 24, 2007):

There is an apron renaissance going on out there and much of it is recorded on the internet. Women everywhere are taking pictures of their aprons and posting them on certain blogs. They are scouring the internet looking for vintage patterns and materials. They are writing about what being a mother and a housewife means to them. These women aren’t depressed. They don’t need valium or to secretly drink or to watch a wildly popular television show that is a diabolical inversion of their lives.

I think a National Wear an Apron Day should be May 14th during the month of Immaculate Mary and the day after Mother’s Day. Amidst the quiet drama of our everyday lives, we can celebrate in gratitude our homes and families by toasting each other with tea and homemade cookies and fresh buttered bread. And go ahead, on Career Day at your local school, invite a girl over to see what your life is like. She most likely will have no idea how to hold a baby or how to make a stew or how to bake a casserole to take to a bereaved family or how soft your apron is for drying tears.

The devil very well may wear Prada but authentically feminine women wear aprons!

If you support a National Wear An Apron Day, please email the Kitchen Madonna...

This is my kind of revolution. :)

I don't think I'd go so far as to insist that authentically feminine women wear aprons. But if y'all want to sort females out into apronphobes versus the rest of us, well... let me think about it some more but it does have an appeal, I must say.

Update: Kitchen Madonna writes (see comments):

I need to clarify that while I love aprons, they also symbolize something THAT DOESN"T REQUIRE AN APRON TO ACHIEVE OR TO BE. You can be authentically feminine and not wear one. Don 't have to. I'm just taking a homey, common object and trying to say what women do in the home is so important...


Kitchen Madonna said...

I need to clarify that while I love aprons, they also symbolize something THAT DOESN"T REQUIRE AN APRON TO ACHIEVE OR TO BE. You can be authentically feminine and not wear one. Don 't have to. I'm just taking a homey, common object and trying to say what women do in the home is so important. Worth of great respect.

Kitchen Madonna

Kathryn Judson said...

Kitchen Madonna, Duly noted. Thanks for writing.