Woke up this morning thinking about aprons. Go figure.
As I remember them growing up, aprons were recycled from old dresses, made from scraps, feed sacks, or in the case of work aprons for men, old coveralls.
Or.. if like me, you needed to earn your 4-H Homemaking Badge, The Apron was your first sewing project. I don’t think anyone bought aprons and I certainly didn’t want one. The apron, symbol of dread domesticity, was to be avoided at all cost. Much better to wipe your hands on your jeans.
So after all our struggles to stamp out negative images of womanhood, why this apron renaissance? A quick search on Google will get you over 4 million hits for “women’s aprons.” You may choose from among 9000+ aprons to purchase on Amazon alone, not to mention upscale shops like Anthropologie. And a ton of books, websites and blogs! There are vintage aprons, X-rated aprons, fashionista aprons, his/hers aprons mother/daughter aprons, childen’s aprons.
There’s even a word for the apron aficionado; “apronist.” Safe to say it’s cool to wear aprons again. So maybe we’re finally beyond the semantics; maybe we women are free to do and be who we really are. I hope that’s at least part of the reason.
But I wonder if the love affair with aprons is it also is part of our larger love affair with nostalgia, a need to escape our complicated lives, a wish for a “simpler, more mannered time.” More and more I catch myself thinking “When I was young, we ALWAYS….” or “we wouldn’t have DREAMED of…” But really? Were things better? They were different, certainly. But were my apron-clad grandmothers happier? I don’t know. I’m not sure I could have survived their challenges. Their lives were simpler, but the work was physically demanding, their life choices were limited, and luxuries I take for granted were few and far between for them. They didn’t worry about drug lords and identify theft, but their lives were short and their sons went to war. There were treasured traditions, but the consequences for breaking them could be disastrous.
So tonight as I tied on my beautiful new cotton apron to make dinner in my kitchen with all the modern conveniences, using food I didn’t have to shoot or pick, I thought once again about my beautiful strong grandmother, her wood stove and her apron. Miss you Gramma.