Young women and their physical appearance on holiday

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Annual Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education, 2010, pp. 1 - 21
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While it is acknowledged that the tourist experience is embodied, few researchers have considered how physical appearance is experienced on holiday. The present study employed the research method, memory-work, to examine how a group of young Australian women felt about their physical appearance on holiday. The study explored whether the holiday was a site in which the women could escape the traditional feminised ideal. The findings suggested that the importance of physical appearance was related to the holiday context (destination and type of holiday) and the people in that context. The womens perceptions of themselves were formed through reflected appraisal, social comparison and feedback. It was clear that the women felt positive about their appearance when they were toned, tanned and dressed appropriately. Self esteem was lowered when women felt that they did not fit their ideal image. Most memories involved the reinforcement rather than the resistance of the dominant social message of the ideal feminised identity. The negative experiences suggest that women continue to experience inadequacy of their body especially when exposed on the beach. Despite feminist gains in other areas of womens lives, for the women in this study, the dominant image of the body is still oppressive.
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