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The Use of Storytelling for Understanding Women's Desires to Tan: Lessons from the Field

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This paper presents reflections on a research project in women's health, providing both substantive findings surrounding tanning and social status and methodological recommendations for future research. The project under review utilized a picture-elicited storytelling method to: a) understand how women link tanned, bronzed skin to health, status, and attractiveness; and b) test the effectiveness of picture-elicited storytelling as a research method. The project found that, when tanning, women use their bodies to inscribe the social norm of the bronzed aesthetic. While women indicate considerable knowledge of the health dangers of tanning, they continue to link tanned skin to beauty, status, and attractiveness. Further, the research project found that the use of picture-elicited storytelling as a method is potentially powerful but requires considerable attention to concerns of power and representation on the part of the research team.

Keywords: Women's health; body politics; picture-elicitednarratives; tanning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: McMaster University, 2: Queen's University

Publication date: May 1, 1999


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