The New American

The New American

An important tool for driving consumer desires and behaviour, Holiday magazine pushed travel as a leisure activity to the middle class American public in the post-war years. The idea of leisure itself was a fairly new one to this class of society, which now had access to a new affluence that the growing economic opportunities after the end of the war had brought them. 

While vacations were depicted as a carnivalesque activity that broke away from the routine of daily life, in reality travel ads contributed to solidifying popular narratives about gender, heterosexuality, and domesticity among the American public. They served to reinforce the centrality of the hetrosexual family, and the growing importance of the role of leisure to this family, in the country's imagination of itself. These ads served as aspirational images for the section of society (the working classes, people of colour, single, or homosexual individuals) that was excluded from this newly formed, affluent middle class that found representation in these ads. 

Grace Line ad

Issued by Grace Line, this ad for a cruise ship, paints a picture of the extravagant lifestyle that had now come to stand for the concept of "American Luxury". This aspirational image promotes travel, and as a result of that, consumption, as an integral part of the American identity. 

United Aircraft Corporation ad

The idea of a family "reunion" had become a popular signifier of the passage from wartime tumult to post-war domesticity. It marked the end of a period characterised by painful separation, and a segue into a period characterised by blissful domestic togetherness. It re-inforced the image of the white, middle class, heterosexual couple in the American identity. Issued by United Aircraft, this advertisement expands the idea of travel beyond leisure, to include the act of holding up the smallest sacred unit of American society ie. the family.  

Jeep ad

Issued by Jeep, this advertisement positions "vacationing" as an important post-war activity for American families. Using images of domestic items commonly found in American households, it re-affirms conventions of middle class domesticity, locating travel as a space where these domestic conventions and values would continue to be observed. Thus, it was clear that travel would not pose a threat to, but was an important part of, the American lifestyle and the values that comprised it.

Packing Tips for Women

This spread from the magazine acts as an instructional guide for women preparing to travel. It confirms the propositition that domestic norms moulded themselves to incorporate this new leisure activity of travelling, as opposed to being fundamentally changed by it. The middle class fantasy of travel continued to espouse the gender norms that relegated women to the domestic sphere. 

Samsonite ad

The new American identiy also fashioned a refined man, who traveled in style, be it for work or leisure. Consumerism, or the things that individuals owned and carried on their person, now played a significant role in determining their position in society. This Samsonite ad affirms that being able to travel for work, that too in style, was a point of aspiration for the new American society. 

The New American