Aprons: The Fabric of Our Lives

June 4, 2010 | NeW Staff

Of the women you know, who wears an apron?  How do you feel about wearing an apron? I think every woman should own an apron. The first woman to wear an apron was the First Woman ever: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7). Aprons were indispensable to a woman then, and they have been indispensable for American women since America was settled. Pioneer women wore aprons homesteading, feeding livestock, harvesting crops, gathering eggs, and canning food. Our grandmothers had specific aprons for every chore: a laundry apron, an ironing apron, a cooking apron, a gardening apron. Housework was gritty work. It was tactile and vigorous;  it involved hands and knees and back. It was work that constantly undid itself only to be done again. Women wore aprons to shield their clothes from this work, and to get into the spirit of domesticity.  

Until aprons were massed-produced in the 1940s, most aprons were handmade by the women who wore them. There were as many different styles of aprons as there were different kinds of women. Aprons were worn by women who didn’t question their place, women who didn’t seek reward and fulfillment outside of their homes. In our time, the apron seems to be a token of a lifestyle that is no longer lived, and family values that are no longer upheld. That traditional lifestyle and those traditional values, however, still apply. Aprons are not only tied to the women who wear them, but also to the housekeeping tasks themselves. So long as there is housework to be done and a family to be sustained, every woman could use an apron. Mothers should give their daughters aprons. Aprons can be great gifts for new wives. Give aprons. Wear aprons. Embrace aprons, from the first leafy one Eve wore in the Garden, to the one your grandmother wore to bake you something sweet, to the one you may be wearing today. Women should wear aprons to honor the generations of women before us, to provide an example for the generations ahead of us, and to celebrate the domestic life we intend to lead.    

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