We Talked To TikTok’s Favorite Viral Couple Maya and Hunter About the Househusband Trend

Maya + Hunter
Courtesy of Maya + Hunter

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TikTok is a platform of trends. Each trend enjoys its five minutes before users move on to something funnier, catchier or more interesting.

Some, like a viral dance or funny voiceover, are a pure, dopamine-releasing pleasure. Others carry a deeper lesson. Some get lucky and stick around long enough for individuals to earn a platform, which is precisely what happened to one of TikTok’s favorite stay-at-home husbands, Hunter Leppard.

He and his wife, Maya, started sharing their life online in early 2021, and their series “Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Husband” put them on the map.

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The content on their page varies from structured videos like to cute, funny impromptu moments and even marriage and relationship advice. All of it has a clear message: that the patriarchy has prescribed gender roles that can be hard to break out of, but equitable relationships are so much better once you do. Hunter embraces his role as a homemaker while Maya takes on the role of the breadwinner.

SPY chatted with them to discuss the larger TikTok “househusband” trend, and how everyone should embrace flexible gender roles in relationships.

  

TikTok’s Househusband Trend

The househusband trend has spread ever since they posted their first video, with men sharing their desire to stay home, cook and clean while their partners go to work every day.

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The sentiment of househusband videos can range from progressive enthusiasm for an anti-patriarchal lifestyle, to content that comes dangerously close to applauding men for staying at home and contributing as little as possible while the women shoulder both the financial and homemaking burdens. Both Maya and Hunter agreed this is not the point of their content, and shouldn’t be the goal in general.

For Hunter and Maya, their relationship is about more than swapping restrictive roles. It’s much more about breaking free of gendered roles in the first place.

“We want to show you don’t have to have certain characteristics as the man or the woman in the relationship, and you’re going to take turns on all of those,” Maya said over Zoom. “And it’s not really about what your gender is, you know? Hunter is sometimes the strong one, but sometimes Hunter has really hard days and I have to be the strong one. It kind of just switches all around.”

How Maya + Hunter Got Their Start

Mutually Feminist Childhoods

Maya and Hunter met in high school and started dating when they were 15. They both explained how their upbringings primed them for their current relationship and to have a more progressive view of gender roles in relationships in general.

“I grew up in a house with three little brothers; chores were ever present all the time,” Hunter said. “My mom was always stressed about having a dirty house because we were just messy boys and so we always, on the weekends, had our chores. People comment on our account, ‘Who raised you?’ and it’s like my mom really did raise me to clean and to do chores and to do it the right way.”

Hunter and Maya both pointed out that the chores weren’t gendered in Hunter’s household because they couldn’t be; Hunter’s mom became “inadvertently feminist” while teaching her sons how to be responsible.

Maya explained, “My mom is actually the CEO of our family business, and it’s in manufacturing, which is a hugely male-dominated industry, and I actually work there too now. The only people that really are girls is me, my mom and three other women. So it’s kind of crazy, it’s 60-plus males and five girls, so it’s kind of funny but basically, to me, it was never something weird to see my mom as the breadwinner.”

An Equitable Marriage, From the Start

After they got married in their early 20s, they were stuck at home watching TikTok when the app was really popping off in early 2021. It was Maya’s idea to start a couples page about their life together. Hunter is in law school, and Maya works for her family business and supports them. Hunter stays home and, while juggling all the demands of school, also contributes to many of the household chores, including doing the laundry, grocery shopping, making the bed and keeping things tidy.

“Early 2021, TikTok is just starting to get in its full swing, and Maya comes to me, and is like, ‘I think we should try doing TikTok’ and I was like ‘Absolutely not, that is so embarrassing,’” Hunter said. “But I gave in because she was convinced that we could do it together and make like a couples page, which were a thing at that point but still a new idea.”

Hunter added, “We were just laughing so hard doing the voiceover kind of tongue in cheek and you can see the sarcasm in it, too. We just had fun, people liked it, and it kind of blew up from there.”

@maya.and.hunter

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The Househusband Series, and How Their Content Has Evolved

Their first piece of viral content was the Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Husband vlog. At the beginning, their intention was to simply share their lives and, like many influencers and content creators, garner some attention and a following.

“I feel like you have a fake idea of what you want, and we were just like, ‘We want to be a positive example of a relationship.’ So that was kind of where we started out, but we didn’t know where that was going to lead at all,” said Maya.

Once their vlogs went viral, they were given the opportunity to speak to a real audience, but with that came grappling with some of the biggest questions that come with building a successful content strategy online. Do you continue to crank out as much content as possible? Or do you stay authentic to you and hope that people respond?

“When the stay-at-home husband first blew up, we kind of went through the phase that everyone does where something works and you’re like, ‘Okay, I have to do this until I’m blue in the face, and I just have to keep doing it,’” said Maya. “And that’s not quite how TikTok works. People move on pretty fast. So there was a shift we had to make. We’re not just a skit page, not just a vlog page or anything like that. Our page is us. And I think that was when we had the most success — when we realized that we just need to show who we are.

Hunter clarified that Maya is the brains behind many of their most successful videos, and he’s the actor willing to bring them to life on screen.

“I compared us to Bill Hader and John Mulaney. On SNL, John Mulaney is the hilarious writer, and Bill Hader is the hilarious actor. And not that John Mulaney can’t act but Bill Hader goes out and does these skits. Maya is writing and she comes up with these ideas, and they’re hilarious, and I’m not as good at coming up with them but I’m more willing to make a fool of myself on the internet,” said Hunter.

Maya’s Advice for Men and Aspirational Househusbands

As for what advice they’d give men who are interested in embracing the househusband lifestyle but wary of the stigmatization, Maya says that men should reframe what they think women find attractive.

“I think it’s so valid to feel that initially, kind of worrying about what people will think because that’s been drilled into all of us that it’s not okay for the man to stay home. It’s not acceptable and not manly,” said Maya.

“You have to rewire what you think women want in a guy. And I think a lot of guys go for this ‘I need to be really really buff and really tough, and not care what people think and be kind of a jerk sometimes.’ And when you talk to the majority of women, that’s just not what they want,” Maya said. “We’re all kind of into the Harry Styles type and Timothée Chalamet. Guys who are sensitive and willing to do things around the house. Our comment section is filled with girls being like, ‘This is so hot’ whenever he’s cleaning, and I totally agree.”

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The Mismarketed Desire of ‘Househusbanding’

Hunter explained that while the intentions behind wanting to “be a househusband” are typically good, it’s really about communicating with your partner what the needs are of the relationship in general, and how you’re each being of service to those needs.

It’s not necessarily about making a political statement, but rather getting done what needs to be done at that moment in time alongside your partner.

“So it is not the message to want to be a stay-at-home husband for the sake of being a stay-at-home husband, it’s to be in a period of your relationship or the dynamic of your relationship that you’ve communicated with your partner that this is what’s best for you, best for them, what’s okay with them. Like I said, I’m in law school right now for this three-year period, Maya is working to support us financially. That was a decision we made collectively outside of TikTok,” said Hunter.

“Totally, because there have been a couple of comments that we’ve gotten that say, ‘My husband is a stay-at-home husband but he doesn’t clean or cook or do anything, I’m still doing all of it.’ And you’re like no, that’s not okay,” said Maya.

Hunter also pointed out stay-at-home dads as a perfect example of this type of thoughtful decision-making.

“Once you add kids in there and the woman’s working and the kids come along and the dad stays home, if that’s a decision you make as a parenting couple? Fantastic. That’s a great, mutual choice that is valiant and honorable and is manly, all those things,” said Hunter.

“Because you decided on it together. And I think what’s the most manly, being in an equal partnership with the woman you’ve decided to be in a partnership with. So yeah, not to say that your aspirations to be a stay-at-home husband aren’t good, but I think the message really is about communication and equality within the relationship.”

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