Estee Williams was studying meteorology at college when she dropped out to follow her dream: being a stay-at-home housewife. Now, while spending her days packing her husband’s lunchbox and scrubbing the skirting boards, she films videos for TikTok in flowy dresses where she promotes a return to “traditional” values. Think Betty Draper minus the melancholy.
She is the figurehead of the #tradwife movement. If you’re not familiar, the online tradwives are the product of a marriage between Instagram models and Fifties TV moms. They reject however many waves of feminism there are now and long for a return of the traditional nuclear family that once existed in America (for maybe forty years). They claim their role is to provide for and submit to their husband, but Estee is keen to add that she doesn’t expect all women to agree with her.
It all started last June, when twenty-four-year-old Estee decided to share some tradwife tips online. With the caption “Forever romanticizing my life #housewife #tradwife,” she spoke about the things she does that make staying at home all day a little more pleasurable: always wearing makeup, listening to music while cleaning, wearing cute dresses, taking candle-lit baths. For any modern woman, this sounds like a dream weekend. “Why not play up your life if it makes it more enjoyable?” she says.
But Estee has faced criticism from all corners. Modern women, of course, claim she’s setting them back years. But there is one demographic that has been particularly harsh to the TikTok star: stay-at-home wives. They claim that Estee “trivializes” the role and that her videos are merely performative and not representative of the average American housewife. Some go even further, saying Estee’s “caricaturization” of stay-at-home wives is no different than that of a drag queen. After all, they’re both exaggerated performances of gender roles, aren’t they?
“There is nothing performative about my life,” Estee told me. I sat down with her for an interview so she could set the record straight.
Forever romanticizing my life ❤️#BigInkEnergy #foryou #fyp #housewife #homemaking #traditional #tradwife #sahw #spoiledwife #bluecollarwife
You’ve been one of the catalysts in the resurgence of the tradlife movement. What drove you to start promoting this lifestyle to others online?
Well, I understand that it’s somewhat looked down upon for a woman to reject a career and to just have simple life goals such as, you know, creating a family, getting married and making a home. I wanted to shine a positive light on this lifestyle, if I could, and just show it in the best light that I could.
How did your life as a tradwife start?
My husband, he’s an electrician. He’s the one who initiated it. We met in 2020, and I remember on our first date he mentioned how he would love to have his future wife as a stay-at-home wife. Secretly I always wanted this lifestyle but I never really talked about it and I was like, “oh, wow, people actually exist like this.” Shortly after we got engaged, he asked me if I wanted to really take a hold of this more traditional route and start taking care of the home and just kind of making this my job.
Did you have any qualms about it?
I had no hesitation at all. We talked about this during our dating life, and we jumped right into it. We dated for a year and a half before we got engaged.
And you were training to be a meteorologist when you met?
Yeah, I was in school. Shortly after I met him, I know it sounds crazy, but everything just made sense. I really started to become more of a spiritual woman and connected with my faith and my purpose in life. And God has really spoken to me to live this lifestyle. And so I really did just drop everything to get ready to pursue this. I took up nannying part time, but that was the only thing I was doing. And then we got engaged.
Why did you want to be a meteorologist?
Well, I’ve always had a passion for weather. And I’ve always enjoyed being in front of a camera in a sense. I guess I felt the pressure to pick something and it kind of just fit this career. So I went for it, or, you know, went to study it.
I guess you’ve got the best of both worlds now because you’re still on camera a lot.
What do you think the role of a woman is?
Well, I definitely think that women should always have the choice. It’s 2023: there is that choice out there. I understand that the economy and people’s financial situations are totally different, but I think women should embrace what they want to do naturally. Both of my sisters are what you would consider “boss babes” and they love working. One of them has a baby and she’s made it work. I think women should uplift each other. And I have nothing against any woman who works. I just talk about my lifestyle. There’s no point in going too far into working women, besides the fact that I support them, if that makes sense.
Can you tell me a little bit about your daily routine?
I always start the day off with coffee and I believe when you dress the way you want to, your time is well spent. So I always do a full face of makeup. I make sure my hair is the way I like it. I wear house dresses which are pretty much normal dresses, but I have some that are cleaning dresses that I wouldn’t mind if they got dirty. Sometimes I’ll even change my dress before my husband gets home. That’s something that I started doing probably in the beginning of our relationship. I used to be the Lululemon girl, but I’ve really tried hard not to wear pants unless I’m working out. I spend many hours in the kitchen. I love making things from scratch and I don’t always post everything I cook on TikTok. But I enjoy cooking and learning, the way different cultures cook, and I make sure that my husband’s lunch is prepared. That’s usually at night.
Reposting my summer day in my life as a homemaker ❤️ #AmazonMusicProudHeroes #StJudeDadPhotos #fyp #homemaker #housewife #traditional #feminine #tradwife #sahw #dayinmylife #dailyroutine #repost
What’s a standard lunch that you would make your husband?
Usually he loves easy on-the-go food because he eats in his truck. So he likes sandwiches. He loves chips. He likes basic stuff. Applesauce, yogurt, snacks. I always have a little bit of a treat in there for him, whether it’s cookies, muffins, and he loves an energy drink. That’s a standard lunch for him. And then I’ll make myself lunch, and I will sometimes take walks around the neighborhood. After that I’ll get into a craft if I feel like it, like maybe making a new wreath for the front door or organizing the house. Then my husband will call me when he’s heading home, and I will start an early dinner. And then we will relax together when he gets home or maybe go to the gym. That’s the standard day right there.
Does this ever change?
Yeah, sometimes he takes me out to dinner. I would say once every other week. We’ll usually do something nice on a Friday night. He enjoys taking care of me and spoiling me and every now and then he’s like, you know, don’t cook dinner. Let’s go out. And that’s what we’ll do.
Have you faced any criticism from friends or family members for this change in your life?
We have had a little bit of criticism from his side of the family. They’ve just been worried because of the economy. A lot of people are struggling in today’s economy, and they don’t want to see Connor or I struggle in life. They see that I’ve dropped everything in life in terms of priorities, just to make Connor my priority. Sometimes they worry that because I’ve never chased or continued to pursue a career that we may struggle in the future. That’s definitely some criticism we’ve gotten.
I don’t know if you already do this, but you could monetize your TikTok?
I don’t know how to do that. I’ve heard a lot of people say stuff like that. So far, I don’t make any money from social media. But yeah, that is, I suppose, a possibility.
Is it something that you would be open to?
Um, it depends. I don’t do sponsorships because I’ve never found any. I don’t like typical sponsorships. I don’t want to come off as like the person that’s trying to sell people. I’m just honestly posting my lifestyle because I enjoy it. So I want to try and keep it that way.
What does a tradwife look for in a man?
Definitely a man who believes in traditional gender roles and doesn’t see this lifestyle as a burden, like, “oh man, my wife doesn’t go to work.” They should want to have to provide and look at it as a blessing. My husband loves it. He loves that he gets to come home to real home cooked food, warm food. He loves that I do his laundry, he loves being taken care of and he takes such good care of me. I think a man really needs to have the right outlook on this lifestyle. And definitely a man who is just not afraid to hear criticism from others as well because I guess that’s what this lifestyle gets according to the outside world. Like, there’s lots of haters about this lifestyle, and people don’t like it. And so a man has to be okay with that.
Where do you buy your dresses?
I get my house dresses from Shein. I know that they’re a little cheaper and thinner, but that’s why those are mainly house dresses. And you know, if they get dirty or get ruined through time, I can get another one. I’ve gotten some on Amazon. A lot of people asked me that, and people have asked me to make a storefront on TikTok. I did make a video on where I got a couple of my most commonly seen dresses on social media. I’m also looking to take a dressmaking course so I can start learning to make my own. But besides that, Shein, Amazon and thrift stores, that’s where I go.
Do you get a budget from your husband for clothes?
I haven’t really gotten a ton of new clothes. My husband, he’ll often be like, “let’s get you a couple dresses.” And I’ll pick some out. But there’s no actual allowance or budget that we do. It’s kind of like when we have a little extra money. And he really loves seeing me excited for new dresses and stuff. Whenever there’s extra money, he’s like, “yeah, let’s get you some dresses.”
To be a housewife is a high calling #PlutoTVIsFree #fyp #AmazonMusicProudHeroes #feminine #50shair #housewife #homemaker #sahw #tradwife #traditional #blonde #grandmahair #50sstyle
There are a lot of people with strong opinions about you, good and bad. What do you think of the criticism?
The criticism, I mean, it exists. I’ve accepted that. And I would like to make more videos addressing some of the more commonly asked questions, because I know people are so scared to financially depend on somebody. But that’s what marriage is: you’re giving your life to somebody in a sense. You’re becoming one and you have to trust somebody to marry them. This life is a beautiful, simple and humble way of living. And it’s a choice for me. And it’s a choice for a lot of women nowadays. I mean, I understand that it’s not the Fifties anymore, and you know, the haters will always exist. But I just keep posting and doing my thing.
What do you think about the people who say this is performative? The blonde bob and house dresses… a lot of people think, “this can’t be real.”
That’s just another comment, I suppose. I didn’t cut my hair for TikTok. In fact, I cut my hair because I had really long hair extensions at some point in platinum bleach blonde and it broke. It all broke off and I had to start from scratch. Now I have a short, little blonde bob and I’ve always loved feminine dresses. But my style isn’t ultra-vintage. It’s more so just feminine, with a little flair of vintage.
There’s nothing performative about this. I think it’s fun to glamorize your own life. And especially if you’re at home, and you’re kind of alone. Like I’m an introvert, I get a lot of energy and spark when I’m alone, and I can get creative. So I enjoy doing the full face of makeup knowing that my husband isn’t going to be home for hours and cleaning the house in a little dress. I say “little dress,” but it’s just a normal dress. And I just enjoy playing it and having fun with it. And I want to start posting more of that part on TikTok, telling people that it’s OK to glamorize your life. And it’s fun. That’s what makes it fun!
Are there times where you get lonely?
I definitely don’t get lonely. I’m an introvert, so I really do thrive off being alone. And it’s nice to have that time alone before my husband gets home, and my mom is ten minutes away. Sometimes I will go visit my mom. That’s the closest family member I have. I don’t have any friends that live this lifestyle in person but I have online friends that I follow and keep up with but I haven’t been able to find somebody in the community similar. And that’s OK. For now, it’s just me and then I’ll go see family I suppose.
Is this a lifestyle you recommend?
I definitely recommend this for a woman who maybe just feels like a career is forced upon her. Of course you can’t do this unless you have a man willing to do this. There are many women who would want it and it can really liberate a woman from feeling like she has to do it all, you know, working a full-time job taking care of the kids after work, cooking, cleaning… that’s a lot. That’s why these working women bring outside help; cleaners and nannies and assistants for different things. Because it’s really hard to be able to do it all. There are some people who have a lot more balance or really love being busy a lot of the time, but I think it can liberate women from that pressure.
Are there any bits of housework that your husband does?
He’ll hang picture frames. He’ll move anything heavy, rearrange stuff, he does most of the yard work. And that’s it, that’s about all he does, which is plenty.
How do you feel about other housewives criticizing you?
There’s plenty of these housewives that do sweatpants, a bun, and no makeup most of the time. If that’s what they want, that’s totally on them. I don’t criticize women for not doing what I do, I think that it’s all a personal choice. But I enjoy doing and looking the way my husband likes me to look, and I enjoy putting the effort in for my husband, he notices it and having a more glamorized approach to this lifestyle has made this lifestyle a lot more enjoyable for me. I know that some of these women have kids, and that’s why it’s difficult to upkeep a lot of that stuff. And that is totally OK. I’m sure when I have kids it’ll be more difficult. Maybe I’ll have more days that I’m not able to do the full glam and that’s OK. It’s all about doing what works best for you, or for them or whoever. But why not try glamorize your life, if that’s what makes your life more enjoyable?
How does dressing up help you?
It’s kind of like putting on a uniform. When I cook, I wear an apron. Do I necessarily need it? No. But it’s the effect it has on me, tying it in the back and knowing, “Oh, I’m about to get to work.” I don’t know, it’s a psychological thing. That’s why some people have uniforms at work. It’s fun.
I think a lot of women associate the word “submissive” as something that happens in the bedroom.
Yeah, I think modern culture has it all twisted. Like they’ve turned the words “submitting” and “serving” into, I guess, a sexual thing, something totally different. And when I’ve talked about serving and submitting to my husband… I don’t talk about sex or anything like that on my channel. But I talk about serving him in the home, making sure that the home is ready for him. His life is easiest when he is home, he’s happy to be home. And women think that this is almost degrading. But this happens everywhere, like, when you go to work and your boss is telling you to do this, this and that. Is that not in some way submitting? People don’t talk negatively about that but they’ll talk about it when you’re married to somebody and you openly talk about submitting yourself to them. The Bible does talk about wives submitting to and serving their husbands, and that has definitely spoken to me from a biblical point to embrace this lifestyle.
Have you always been religious?
When I was a student, I was not in tune with my faith. I didn’t consider myself a very spiritual woman. I was never an atheist, but I didn’t have a relationship with God. The moment that I really started to have a relationship with God is when God was trying to tell me to leave the workforce and to live a more traditional life. And I felt that calling and I was so ready. I just dove right into it.
Do you think that there’ll be a time in your life where you do want to get a job?
Absolutely not. This life is so fulfilling and happy. I feel like I’m the most productive, happiest, best version of myself when I’m at home, doing my daily tasks and caring for my husband. He glows more, and I glow more when we’re doing this, it works for us. I would never want to change it. But if something were really to happen, with the economy or something with my husband, then you gotta do what you got to do. Obviously, I haven’t been building a résumé, but that’s where I look to God to help guide us to figure out those rough times if that were ever to happen.
And there’s nothing sexual about it? Some people are saying this is fetish content.
There’s nothing sexual about this lifestyle. And I’ve tried to keep sex out of my profile and stuff like that, like I don’t talk about if that makes sense.