This week, twin sisters Dr. Lexie Kite and Dr. Lindsay Kite join me for a discussion on body image resilience. As women, we've been conditioned to care about how we look and as such, become fixated on our beauty and body. And for many women, only when we feel we have conformed, do we feel confident. In addition to informing us how to step into body image resilience and away from body shame, Lexie and Lindsay offer their insight about topics such as self-objectification, body shame, and how internalized misogyny is central to our self-perceptions.
“Body image resilience provides the opportunity to see the trigger as a stepping stone instead of a burden you carry around the rest of your life and cope in the same ways you’ve always had.” Dr. Lexie Kite
Lexie and Lindsay received their PhDs from the University of Utah. Their academic research on media studies and body image inspired them to establish the non-profit Beauty Redefined in 2009 (while concluding their co-written master’s thesis and beginning their doctoral research) to help women recognize and reject harmful messages about their bodies, worth, and potential, and redefine the meaning and value of beauty in their lives.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- Lexie and Lindsay’s book, More Than a Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament, takes on the topics of body image positivity and a reclamation of a woman's body. They share what inspired them to write this book. (6:30)
- Body image resilience: what it is and why it is important for women to work to raise theirs. (8:35)
- Why it is important to normalize the diversity of all bodies. (28:25)
- Many of us are disordered eaters and we don’t know it because it has been normalized in our culture. (36:12)
- We can prove the worst fears about ourselves are wrong. (39:44)
- The first step towards body image resilience includes taking inventory of your environment. (51:41)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Find a complete list of our sponsors and their offerings visit andreaowen.com/sponsors. Thank you for your support!
Twin sisters Dr. Lexie Kite and Dr. Lindsay Kite received their PhDs from the University of Utah. Their academic research on media studies and body image inspired them to establish the non-profit Beauty Redefined in 2009 (while concluding their co-written master’s thesis and beginning their doctoral research) to help women recognize and reject harmful messages about their bodies, worth, and potential, and redefine the meaning and value of beauty in their lives.
Since then, Lexie and Lindsay have become leading experts in body image resilience and media literacy and have been featured in a variety of national publications and interviews. Today, they continue to build on their academic work and the passion it stoked for helping girls and women through Beauty Redefined’s online body image resilience course and course facilitator program, and regular speaking events for thousands of people of all ages at universities, high schools, and community organizations.
Body image resilience it's different than anything else you'll see out there because it gives people the hope to see the shame and the pain that has that has taken over so much of their lives to be able to see it and call it out, and then use those experiences. The weight loss, the weight game, the people making comments about your body, but sexual harassment and abuse whatever it is. To use it to become stronger and more compassionate, to use it as this kind of disruption to make a better choice that serves you better than the harmful coping mechanisms most of us turn to when we feel body shame.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 412 with guests Lexie and Lindsay Kite.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owenn, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience, and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad that you are here. I'm recording this, as I have just come home from a conference. My first conference in two years. Yeah, two years since the pandemic and whoa, I'm tired. socializing really wore me out. It's very interesting how that worked. And if any of you have done anything in person that was with a lot of people, maybe it was a party, or a wedding that you attended, where it was meeting new people and, and the small talk and all of that. It was exhausting. I had to, I had to take a lot of breaks and have a lot of downtime. So I'm still kind of in that in that place of, wow, I need to rest my brain I need to rest my body. But that being said, I had a really great time. I met some fantastic people that I had known in the podcasting world. It was a podcast conference. And women that I had known in the world of podcasting for a long time and finally got to meet them in person and hug them. It was super fun.
I'm excited about today's guests. These are two women that I have known online. And speaking of having internet friends, I've known Lexie and Lindsay Kite for a long time, and we'll talk about that when you hear the conversation.
And I wanted to just mention that tomorrow, October 28 is my sister's birthday. But it's also the kickoff of Make Some Noise Confidence Course we start tomorrow, Thursday, October 28. And if you're not signed up, but you're like, oh my gosh, I waited till the last minute. Where do I go to join you? Owen.com/confidence. It is a low-cost group program. I wanted to have something that was affordable, where you could come in with a group of women create a community and I am leading it. We're having weekly calls. Of course they are recorded in case you missed them. But we're going to do the book instead of just read it. We're going to do Make Some Noise and we're going to go chapter by chapter. I cannot wait to start this program. It's going to be amazing.
The last thing I wanted to tell you was that did you know that there's transcripts to each of the episodes. We started this several weeks ago, and if you miss something in the show and you wanted to go back and read it, you can go to my website AndreaOwen.com and find the podcast there. There's a there's a search bar. And yeah, just something extra I want to make sure that you have. And for people who are hard of hearing, I wanted to make it accessible as well.
All right. on with it on with the show. Let me tell you a little bit about our guests today. It's a twofer. We have two guests and let me tell you about them. Twin sisters, Dr. Lexie Kite and Dr. Lindsay Kite received their PhDs from the University of Utah. Their academic research on media studies and body image inspired them to establish the nonprofit Beauty Redefined in 2009, to help women recognize and reject harmful messages about their bodies worth and potential and redefine the meaning and value of beauty in their lives. Since then, Lexie and Lindsay have become leading experts in body image resilience and media literacy, and have been featured in a variety of national publications and interviews. Today they continue to build on their academic work and the passion for helping girls and women through Beauty Redefines Online Body Image Resilience Course, and Course Facilitator Program, and regular speaking events for 1000’s of people of all ages at universities, high schools and community organizations. So without further ado, here are Lexie and Lindsay.
Lexie and Lindsay, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Happy to be here.
I am so excited to have you. It's it's very rare that I have two people on together at the same time, and you are the first twins that I've ever had on. So congratulations.
Thank you. Well take that honor.
Setting the standard. And we were chatting a little bit before the show, and I found you to online about a decade ago when you were still in school. I don't even know if you were getting your PhD yet. You were probably still in grad school. Many, many…Yeah. Right. And I loved what you were doing. And I was this wasn't the beginning of my career when I was talking a lot more about body image and I made the decision to walk away from it for a few reasons, and move into more of like, general women's empowerment. And I have been meaning , my apologies, I've been meaning to have you on the show for years. You're here, but you're here. And I want I have lots of questions about you. And I know this is such an important discussion. And, so your book is called it's not out yet, right?
Oh, it's out? Yep, it is out. October 9, 2020. Yeah.
Your first book, okay. That's right. It is called More Than A Body: Your Body Is An Instrument, Not An Ornament, where you take on topics of body image, body positivity, and basically a reclamation of a woman's body. So like, let's start from the very beginning and what inspired you to to write this book?
Yeah, well, Lexie and I grew up being extremely fixated on our looks. So as identical twins, as you can probably imagine, when people would meet us, or even if they would see us for the first time in a week or whatever, people would scan us up and down, and then look back and forth, and compare us to see who was different. And they would always call out whatever differences they saw, to try to help them differentiate between the two of us. So it created this unbelievable competition between us, but also this really overt awareness of how we looked and how everyone was constantly evaluating and monitoring how we looked. And I think that really led to a real fixation on beauty, weight loss, things that a lot of teenage girls really get hung up on starting in middle school was very much us.
And the way that we first found our ways into this whole career is that we were freshmen in college, and we both took a class separately that was on media literacy. How to recognize media messages and the way it's they're engineered the way they are to influence you and the way you perceive the world. We were so struck individually, by this whole section about how women were represented, and about how the very limited ways we see women, what they're valued for, how they appear, what they're doing. All of that had really shaped this ideal in our minds of how we needed to be, and appear in order to be happy and successful and loved and all that. And it was honestly like this shared twin goosebump experience, where we were both overwhelmed with this feeling that we had been so impacted by this. This obsession with how we look at really held us back from a lot of happiness and things we could have been doing with our lives. And that's where we made the decision to move forward, really learning about it, not only how and why women are affected so much by these messages, but most importantly, how we can help women recognize them and work their way out of it through what we call body image resilience.
Body image resilience, okay. And so what is, Okay. So you took this class, and it kind of changed your life? And did you then decide, like, I'm going to dedicate my college career to studying this? Like, what did the conversation sound like between the two of you?
It was this, we went back to our shared dorm room our freshman year talked about the first day of this class, we took separate sections of to not be such twins. And we both realized like, this is it this really spoke to us. And we didn't know exactly how we were going to get there. We knew we wanted to help women break free from this body shame and fixation on appearance. And that took us down this path of 10 years of college each. The doors just were thrown open for us to get there. We had dual fellowships, to go to the University of Utah to get our masters and our PhDs. And that was now, what, eight years ago at this point. And we founded our nonprofit Beauty Redefined at that point based on this shared research that helped people develop strategies to break free from this feeling that they were defined by and confined by their bodies. That led us down this kind of like public activism work that we've been doing for many years online through Beauty Redefined. And a few years ago, a literary agent reached out to us and said, I'm a big fan of your work. I think this needs to be a book, let's make it happen. And thankfully, we shopped the book around it went up for auction, we got a really life changing deal to get our work out to the world. And that work is his body image resilience, it's different than anything else you'll see out there because it gives people the hope to see the shame and the pain that has that has taken over so much of their lives. To be able to see it and call it out and then use those experiences, the weight loss, the weight gain, the people making comments about your body, the sexual harassment and abuse, whatever it is, to use it to become stronger and more compassionate. To use it as this kind of disruption to make a better choice that serves you better than the harmful coping mechanisms most of us turn to when we feel body shame.
It's interesting to me as a I just turned 46 and I think I assumed maybe like when I was in my 20s and maybe even in my 30s that once I got to my 40s that, myself included, and that women would we would care less about this and it would be less of a topic of conversation. There's a Facebook group that I'm in, you this is going right? There’s a Facebook group I’m in for peloton and it's, I won't say what it's called but it's only for women in their 40s and it's fantastic. It's such a great resource for like perimenopause and parenting things and all the things and I can't believe how much women are still talking about their weight in their 40s. It’s infuriating to me as someone who is in the women's empowerment industry. And as a fellow human woman who identifies as a woman who I'm so tired of myself being fixated on it. And I have done some work. And also seeing other women spend their time and energy and resources on something that most people don't give a shit about. Like most people don't care about. And it's easy just to say that. Like no one really cares about what your body looks like. But we have been conditioned and socialized to care so much. And that's the thing that pisses me off.
Oh, totally. If we really talk about this body image stuff as the final frontier for women, because what you're describing is women who are probably very successful in other aspects of their lives. They're taking care of their health and fitness, they're getting it at their careers, they're there in relationships, taking care of families, really living fulfilling lives. And yet, so much of their happiness, their day to day, their mental and physical energy is dedicated toward what they're eating, what their bodies look like, what they need to fix about their bodies before they can qualify to live their best lives and feel their best and finally, be confident. This really is the final frontier, it's women who are killing it in every other way, are still completely burdened by this. And that's intentional. We are in the midst of a culture that is fully banking on all of us being so fixated on our beauty on our bodies as our real currency, our real source of power and confidence in this world, to the point where they've got us from the time we were three years old thinking that princess ideals where every single princess and every female character in animated media looks exactly the same in terms of the exact same body type, facial structure, all of these tiny yet curvy and very young and youthful ideals. We buy into those when we're extremely young, and we will continue to buy into them for the rest of our lives to the point where we're 95 years old, and we're still buying the same wrinkle cream and counting our carbs and our sugars and everything because we are so fixated on this. Our bodies being the key to who we really are.
And if I can jump in. I our, in our book, More Than a Body is it is set up dedicated to helping people see when they split from themselves when they were little. It's this it's this thing called self-objectification. When you live in a world that objectifies your body from every conceivable angle and asks you to do the same, to cut yourself into parts in need of fixing. To look at yourself as just a compilation of things that need to be constantly worked on. That leads you to self-objectify. That means that you are living and you are picturing yourself living. You are monitoring yourself according to your worst fears of what somebody else might be thinking when they look at you. That's on purpose. This culture sets us up to self-objectify our lives away. Even the most self-actualized among us are doing this. We're picturing ourselves living and all of our research shows that when you're in a state of self-consciousness, then you perform worse. You perform worse in testing like a physical fitness test, you can't get into a flow state, you can't lift as heavy of weights, reading comprehension is lacking, math tests, and on and on and on.
So in our book, we asked people to think about when they were young, when did they catch themselves slipping from their bodies to evaluate themselves. For most of us that happened when we were really young, when we heard our mom say, I can't eat that I'm on a diet. I don't like seeing the cellulite on the backs of my legs. Or when we go to school, and we hear the other girls being bullied for being too thin or too big, or too black, or too pale, or whatever the thing might be. We ask people to consider when did that happen? And how can we reunite again and again, with ourselves every time we feel ourselves slip away? It's the only way we can actually be liberated.
Wow. I need a moment. I think that people listening are probably thinking of their first time if they can remember a specific moment. I know for a lot of women, their mothers and grandmothers and older sisters and aunts, were talking about dieting, picking apart their own bodies, picking up other women's bodies, etc, etc. And when I was first going through this journey, I didn't have that experience. I don't ever remember my mom being disparaging about her own body or other women's bodies. My parents were both very active, they played tennis for because it was fun, and my mom exercised. And I think that I was a victim of circumstance in that group in the 1980s when there was like the big aerobics craze. And I still have my Hello Kitty diary from when I was very young. Started writing in it in about third grade when I was writing about roller skating, all the boys I had crushes on. And, and I dated everything. So I knew how old I was as time is going on. When I was 11, I wrote in my diary that I thought I was fat, and that I was going to start weighing myself every day and start to exercise. And there's only five entries of me weighing myself I must have quickly lost interest, thank goodness. But I weighed 82 pounds. And I was a little girl. And I think what was happening, I don't know for sure. But I think what was happening is, I was starting to go through puberty and as we know, we start to gain body fat as a part of human biology. And there was a girl a little girl, I went to school with who was in a larger body, and everybody made fun of her and bullied her. And I remember I was never the kid who was mean and picked on other kids but I definitely was the bystander who was afraid and just didn't say anything and shut my mouth and felt visceral secondhand shame for people. And that's the only thing I can think of is knowing at a very young age that that fat equaled bad, larger bodies equaled bad and that it really meant something to not be that way. And I my heart breaks for that little girl who was bullied in school, my heart breaks for my former self who was set up to live a lifetime fixating on my body.
That is such an unbelievably common experience. When you ask, especially young girls, when you look back at journals of young girls, you see starting around that same age, just like you mentioned. Right before puberty, and around that time, girls get extremely fixated on their weight. And one of the interesting things about that is that during puberty, girls’ bodies get pushed further from the physical ideals or female bodies today. So on average, we gained about 40 pounds of weight during this time. We develop body hair. All of these things push us further from the really prepubescent androgynous body ideals except for hips and boobs, which we know can never be quite right. If you've got too much body fat than your stomach's not going to be flat enough. And if you've got, you know not enough, then you don't have the buck that's required for today. So it's always just a losing ideal. But for boys, they get closer to the ideal. They start developing muscles and facial hair, body hair, and all of that they get taller, and all of these things that make them actually feel better about their bodies in this culture. And so it just it points us to the fact that our culture is set up in such a way that girls and women are failing because the importance of our bodies is too much. It's too great. It's too great for us to bear and those ideals are so unrealistic. If puberty pushes us further from the ideals we know we are set up in a losing game. And so it's time to really take back that narrative of what makes a girl valuable, and to take it out of honestly the patriarchal perspective that tells us women's value comes from how they are perceived by men in a sexual manner.
We are constantly being observed and evaluated through our own eyes and through other's eyes from a lens of a heterosexual male perspective. We're evaluating ourselves on whether or not we are sexually desirable enough. And when little kids start to do that to themselves, that's where the trouble really starts. And it to some extent, your parents can only do so much. If you live in this culture that teaches you so much about which bodies are desirable, which ones are acceptable, you're going to learn one way or another, what it takes to be desirable, and happy and successful.
Oh my goodness, okay. Talk to us about, a lot of your book is about what you call body image resilient. So what is the importance for women, you know, to work on raising their body image resilience.
So body image resilience is this model that we came up with during our dissertation research. That is, it is truly the light at the end of the body shame tunnel. Body image resilience is built on and banks on the fact that we will continuously face opportunities for body shame. We will continuously face opportunities when we come up against somebody saying something about our bodies. Pregnancy, whatever it might be divorce, a breakup, a photo you don't like of yourself that somebody took of you. We are constantly faced with these triggers. Body image resilience is the opportunity to see the trigger as a stepping stone, instead of this burden you carry around the rest of your life and cope in the same ways you always have.
So our model of body image resilience asks everybody, the baseline question, how do you feel about your body? And if you are, like 80%, or more of the women in our research and in our ongoing online course, then you answer that question by explaining what your body looks like. Not how you feel, not what you can do, not what you've experienced. But when we asked you, how do you feel about your body, you say things like, oh, I've gained a lot of weight, you know, over COVID, and I'm just I'm not feeling great, but I'm getting back in action. I'm getting back out there. I know, when I lose a few pounds, I'm gonna feel great again. Or things are sagging things are not where they used to be. I've got lines on my forehead, I cannot get rid of. I feel really embarrassed about those parts. That is how women talk about their bodies. And when you hear those answers, you can hear that self-objectification and shame have totally taken over that person's perspective of their body. When you answer that question, if you answer in those in similar ways, where you're self-objectifying, you're not prioritizing a first-person perspective on your body. You need to recognize and you now can recognize you have opportunities to choose a new path.
Most people sink into body shame when they are faced with a disruption to their body image. They self-harm in in great numbers. Young women are self-harming. They deal with addictive behaviors. They deal with eating disorders and disordered eating. We cope in ways that do not serve us, they numb us for a minute. They never serve us. Another way people cope when they're faced with these disruptions to their body image is by clinging to their comfort zone that is actually deeply uncomfortable, but it’s all you ever knew. You find that you don't like yourself and so you think, okay, I need a new wardrobe, I need to get this procedure done, I really need to step up my game. Or you hide. So many of us sit on the sidelines of our lives because we think we don't qualify to be seen yet. We write in our book, we get personal. It was a scary book to write because it's not just research. It's personal. We share journal excerpts, too. We share our experiences of quitting competitive swimming when we were 16 because we were too self-conscious of the cellulite on our legs. And it took years to come back through body image resilience to realize that our bodies are instruments, not ornaments. To choose that path again.
That path, the third path, the one that we teach people through this model is to rise with resilience. You can use a million strategies to get there but every time you face that shame, you know that you have the opportunity to choose a new way of being that serves you that brings you back home to yourself. Instead of stuck in that place of watching yourself from afar, ashamed of what you look like fixing your days away.
I'm just seeing my life flashed before my eyes over here, that’s why I’m so quite, which so many people I think listening probably are.
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We touched on this briefly before we started recording and I'm curious what your thoughts and opinions are of it. And I've seen some pushback with people. I remember a few years ago on Instagram I posted when Tess Holliday was on the cover of was it Cosmo?
I think Glamour.
Was it Glamour? Your probably right? Yeah, glamour. And there was a lot of arguing going on over there. And I feel like now in 2021, we have made some progress in terms of even just starting the conversation, talking about marginalized groups. And how we can be more accepting how we can be allies to these marginalized groups, LGBTQ people of color, etc. Even you know, people with disabilities. In my opinion, and this is what I want to know from you is, are we accepting of the community of body acceptance and fat acceptance?
Yeah, well, that's actually a really important part of this whole body image conversation because while everybody, most women might feel negatively toward their bodies, or feel really fixated on how they appear. It's those that are being actively discriminated against and marginalized and, and have bias against them, that are actually experiencing the worst outcomes of this objectifying culture that we live in. And so it is important to be able to recognize the privilege that each of us hold. Even though we might, you know, we might fit into straight size clothing, you might be able to walk into any clothing store and find clothes that fit you. You could probably fit into a standard airplane seat, a stadium seat, you are probably not discriminated against at the doctor and I'm speaking to you and generally to the listeners. You're probably not discriminated against at the doctor's office. All of these things you can go about your life, and all of those things may be true, and that has privileged built into it. And still, even with all that privilege, you might hate your body. You might have experienced trauma, you might experience pain daily. And all of those things still put you in a different class than somebody who is in a marginalized body that maybe feels terribly about their body and experiences similar pain and trauma and also have that inflicted upon them from the outside from other people's judgments from discrimination in employment of hiring, at the doctor's office and in in dating and everywhere else in their lives.
So for us, it is really important to call back to some of the origins of the body positivity movement, that were in fat acceptance. That is important because there needs to be space for everybody. And it's important to normalize the diversity of bodies. That's a huge step forward in our culture, when we are able to normalize what it means to look different, especially for marginalized people, people with disabilities, people of all races and ethnic races and groups. We need to be able to see diversity, and not have instant judgments and stereotypes about it. We need to make it normal. To say the very least. And so yes, it is really important for all of us to think of our privilege and to be aware of the biases that we project onto others who probably have it worse than we do. And at the same time, what we really need to do is make sure that that focus and and that judgment is quelled by compassion. We need to demonstrate compassion, not only toward ourselves, for all the things that we've gone through, in this really difficult and objectifying environment that values our bodies at the expense of our humanity. But we need to extend that same compassion toward other people who may have it harder than us and may not. May be making different choices than we would. It doesn't matter. What we need to do is express kindness, compassion, and hold space in our heart for people to be different, to look different and to make different choices than we would and still have that be an okay thing to do. And to make it important for them to be able to take up the space that they need.
What a revolutionary way of thinking, Oh, what an amazing world we would live in if that happened. One of the things like switching gears, but not switching gears, one of the things I talked I talked about, and in my book that's coming out this summer Make Some Noise, and that I did research on, which was incredibly eye opening and, and pushed me into further my own work, and that is internalized misogyny. And one of the things that that I was reading about is, you know, the ways that internalized misogyny manifests is chronic dieting. So what did you, I'm curious, because you two are much better experts at this than I am and much more studying, what are your thoughts about that?
Oh, good question. And a question I don't think we've been asked. But I mean, absolutely internalized misogyny, and really internalized patriarchy, like as our way of being is, is central to our own self-perceptions. We become our own overseers. We become our own, what is what is another way of describing this way of controlling ourselves that patriarchy doesn't even have to do for us because we have internalized it to the point that we police each other. We, in so many ways, internally and among our sisters, we police each other as bodies first and people second. We see each other as sexual threats to our partners. We see each other as a look at those boots she just got done or look at what she's wearing. We see each other as parks instead of people would not only ourselves, but we turn that eye on everybody else. Because once you've internalized objectification as your way of being and your body as your whole currency in this world. A foe power because it can be taken from you as freely as it is given. You know, when that's the only power we get in this world, especially in conservative cultures where women are not given the voice, they are not given the representation, the leadership opportunities. Instead, we seek it through our bodies. We seek it through our sexuality. And in that way, we have all internalized the heterosexual male gaze that has been, you know, that has been wrought upon us our entire lives.
And so one thing Lindsay and I tried to do, we've been trying to do since the beginning, is help people understand that when you are not living an embodied life, when your body is not your own, when you see your own body as a burden to drag around, and every other girl and woman's body as a threat, a burden, something disgusting, something shameful, something that should be fixed or hidden away, we are at odds with ourselves. And it is it is a damning place to be for women. We think about you know, everything that women have lost by spending our time hiding and fixing ourselves away. And the opposite end of that coin, which we write about in the book is what does the world have to gain when women can come home to themselves? Our book is based on this metaphor of, you know, the beginning is about how we slip from ourselves. We enter the waters of objectification, the sea. And that the end of our book, the rest of our book is about how we navigate those waters back home. Back home to ourselves, the end is a reunion. I get goosebumps talking about it, because it is a reunion that every one of us need so desperately, and the world needs so desperately for every woman to have with herself. Because when we come home to ourselves, when we embody ourselves and prioritize a first person perspective on who we are, how we feel, what we can do, that is divorced and disentangled from how we appear, mostly to people we don't even care about that have no power over us, then our lives change. There is freedom, there is joy, there is more time, energy, that can be placed in doing good for ourselves and doing good for the world. But when we have internalized this deep massage, this deep hatred of ourselves and other women, we can not get there.
Sing it Lexie. Lindsay, do you have anything to add?
Yeah, I think well, amen. To what Lexie said. And the dieting part of it, I think is especially crucial, because it's so invisible to people. So many of us are disordered eaters, and we don't know it because it's been so normalized in our culture. From the, you know, low fat craze in the 90s, to the low carb obsession in the early 2000s. And on and on, it gets rebranded every year and now it's keto. And it's intermittent fasting, and it's everything else. Yes, think about the amount of mental and physical energy that is purely dedicated toward monitoring what we eat. Restricting, which inevitably 100% of the time, leads to bingeing. Either on the weekend, the end of the month, or, you know, it can happen within a day, when we start out with a restrictive mindset, we will eventually binge. All of that, whether you're excessively counting macros, calories, carbs, whatever, that takes women, primarily women's mental energy, and diverts it toward this one thing where we feel like we have control where we place so much emphasis on how our bodies look. And we don't even question the fact that all of the things we've been promised all of the desirability, the optimal health, the happiness, the fulfillment, and especially the body confidence that we've been promised, we will feel once our bodies look a certain way once we can muster the self-control and discipline to finally restrict as long as we need to, in order to get our bodies to look a certain way. We don't even question that those promises don't come true. That overwhelmingly, those promises are lies, are myths, and we worship them our entire lives, women who look perfect according to you and who fit every ideal in our culture, they do not necessarily have the happiest lives. Their partners may still cheat on them, they may not have success in love, they may not be able to have all the things that you want in your life, whether it struggles with infertility, or illness, disability, cancer, all of these things happen to people, including mental illness, regardless of how they look. And we need to question our allegiance to this lie that tells us once we get our bodies to look to conform to this ideal that is, you know, desirable to a heterosexual male audience, we need to question whether that's something that we really need to be pledging our whole lives to.
And what I want to emphasize is that both in our research and in my own personal life, as I've tested this for myself, I have proven that it is not true that these myths don't really hold up. That happiness can be found in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and desirability, and health, optimal health and fitness. Of course, you're not going to be able to escape every negative thing that happens in this world, within relationships within health or whatever, by how your body looks. And so but what we do know is that you can find fulfillment, and love, and self-compassion, and kindness, and success and all of the other positive attributes that we need to have in our lives and seek to find in this world, you can find that regardless of how you look. So look around and see who is doing that. Find the good examples in real life that don't fit into this whole marketing narrative about which bodies are worthy of love and happiness and success and everything else. Challenge yourself challenge those, those beliefs that you have in your mind about why you need to diet constantly and find out if your body can be an instrument instead of just an ornament to be looked at really find out.
One thing if I can add that Lindsay has been good at teaching me, that she wrote a really powerful part in the last chapter of the book about, is proving yourself wrong. We live with all these anxieties that are abstract, and in our minds. They don't actually exist in reality, we picture ourselves living, we picture ourselves doing the thing that scares us and we don't do it because we don't like how we think we'd look when we do it. And Lindsay has been an amazing example of really pushing our work and resilience forward by proving that we can prove ourselves wrong. You know, even as body image experts, we've been doing this work for so many years. We still have human bodies that do not fit the ideals. We are still navigating this world I'm doing it married thankfully, with the most supportive wonderful husband who has been by my side as I've gotten off the diet, yo yo weight loss train. And Lindsay's been navigating this dating in New York City. Like she has proved to me that she can prove her worst fears about herself wrong and tells the most incredible story about getting up the courage to move to Manhattan in the book. And I'm just personally so proud of, of seeing her be able to do that, because it shows me and so many people just on a really personal level, that when we just get out there and move and do and be and lead without that fear of how we look, the results are amazing. The results reinforce that you are more than a body, that you have work to do, that you deserve, love, happiness, joy in your body as it is right now. And that is just the most liberating thing in the world.
Oh, that's really nice. Thanks Lexie
You guys are having a moment.
Their few and far between so.
I'm glad that it's being recorded I love that. There's so much that I want to touch on and underscore and a couple things to add. One of the things that was very interesting to me that I wrote in my in my last book is the whole concept of punishment versus reward in our patriarchal culture. We as women are rewarded for fitting into this quote unquote box of conformity you know? From being accommodating to making other people, especially men, comfortable. Putting everyone else before us and that also includes the way that we look. You know, we are rewarded if we are white and thin and our hair is a certain way etc etc. And to I want to my point is that I have compassion, if it feels incredibly uncomfortable for people to even think about challenging those norms because we are rewarded for it and we are rewarded a lot of times with the feeling of safety, the proximity to white men. And personally it has been a journey that I'm still going through and part of…the first step was really looking at that really looking at that punishment versus reward. And being at a place where I could admit how incredibly uncomfortable it is. And also you know what is my reward really though, if I walk away from this or or at least try and work on walking away from it, so that I can honor my values and who I truly feel in my bones I was meant to be and even just talk about.
Your question is fantastic and we do address this in our work this idea that we feel like the reward of conforming is so great. I mean because every message in the world tells us it is the only way to happiness success love, you know fulfillment is to conform is to get as close as you can to these ideals and yet, it is chasing a mirage. It's it really is a lie. If you examine your own life, if you examine your own privilege, the ways you think you are having to conform to feel safe, to access power, they might not be as safe as you think they are because in it you are sacrificing your health, you're sacrificing your identity, you are sacrificing your own power and purpose in this need to conform to a smaller dress size or whatever the thing might be. We ask people to examine their privilege. So one thing for me as somebody who is a body image expert that's also navigating life in a body is coming out of this pandemic. I was talking to Lindsay one day and I was like my jeans are super tight. I haven't had to wear jeans, I had a baby 18 months ago, so she's like basically a COVID baby. I have not had to wear jeans in like two years or more. And I put them on and they were super tight and I had one of those triggers. Those body shame triggers to talk about and I said to Lindsay I'm just they're tight and I'm self-conscious of my cellulite showing through my jeans. We were going to some family event with my house. Since family and Lindsay was like, what are you talking about? What are you actually afraid of? Look at your privilege. A husband who we are doing as awesome as ever, a great relationship, kids career. I've got all the things I need all the privilege in the world, even in a body that doesn't conform to what the ideal say it should. My life is, I am deeply privileged. And yet I live in this place of fear in my mind that somehow I could gain more power or more safety or more love if I changed my body. And it's not true. And I've proved myself wrong about that by gaining weight and being healthier than I've ever been. I get to work out regularly. Throughout this pandemic, my mental health has improved drastically, by working out. My body hasn't changed. If anything, my butt has gotten bigger, I'm sure, but I'm stronger.
And so yeah, yeah. And that doesn't mean that there aren't real rewards that come with conforming to the ideals, we want to definitely make that clear. Part of the process of questioning your privilege and your ability to opt out of some of these ideals, that we've been pledging allegiance to our entire lives, including the whole youth and anti-aging thing, and the thinness thing, is to be able to see what will you really lose? Outside of the fears that you won't be loved, that people will think negative things about you. Are there real tangible things that you might lose? For some people there are, you know, for some people, their employer will not allow them to wear their natural hairstyle, or their employment depends on their body looking a certain way, because we're in this patriarchal society that rewards women financially, often for looking hot.
There are lots of ways that we do reap power. But unfortunately, a lot of that power is is faulty. It can be taken away from us as quickly as it was given. That doesn't mean that it doesn't feel good in the moment, it doesn't mean it won't yield financial rewards. But it does mean that it's not necessarily going to last. And so it's really, really important for each of us to be able to find our value, including the value of our bodies, and our real personal relationships to our bodies outside of this system of power, that's really an objectifying system that bestows rewards upon those who fit the ideals. Because again, that is that's a bit of a losing game. So those who do have the privilege to know that your partner is still going to love you, it's still going to be with you through this, even if you do gain some weight, getting off the yo yo diet cycle. Or even if you do forego the anti-aging procedures that you've already started, or that you've been planning to do, that the people who really matter in your life, your employer, your family members, your friends, they're not going to like you any less or value you any less if you do start to age. In fact, what you may be doing is setting a new example, for people who need to see some reality just preserve that a little bit in a world where we don't get to see it very often.
Yes, one of my dear friends who was going through her own body image resilience process with a therapist, because, you know, she realized she had been chronic dieting her entire life. And she told me something really interesting that that I don't think I ever have done. I may have unconsciously but I feel like this is probably very common. She told me that what she does, I don't think she does this anymore, but most of her life, when she would meet a woman, she would kind of size her up and look at how attractive she was and the size of her body. And based on that she would immediately like her more or less as comparison to her own. So if the woman was in a larger body and was you know, she thought she was less attractive, then she liked her more. And this was kind of shocking to me. And but at the same time not surprising, because of the internalized misogyny that and internalized sexism and patriarchy that so many of us have, where we look at other women as competition and adversaries.
Yeah, that shows up in research. And, yeah, we have a section about that in the book where women will rate female, they seem to be employees or staff in a certain experiment, they will rank them lower, give them lower scores, if they find them more attractive. And this happens among young girls too. It's a very real phenomenon and it absolutely is an extension of this patriarchal idea that we are in competition for resources that are limited. And that's you know, attention, validation, attraction, love, all of this kind of stuff. And so much of it is really just a myth. We're not really in competition with each other.
Well, let me ask you something because I only read a little bit of the research and what research, and I can't remember exactly who it was that was talking about this, and this particular woman said that the studies show that unfortunately, yes, some of it is biology. That we are hardwired to be competitive with each other, but most of it is learned and is not is mostly nurture.
Yeah, yeah. And that makes sense, you know, if you're thinking about trying to keep your mate or whatever in caveman times, that makes sense, you know, we have whatever qualities that he deems attractive or whatever. But yes, most of it really is nurture from this environment that we live in, that teaches us that we're in competition with each other. And the way to inoculate against that comes really naturally as you build up your own body image resilience. Because as you develop this ability to see more in yourself more than a body, more than an object, you naturally extend that to other people. I found over time, as I started thinking more positively toward myself, and having a more holistic, embodied relationship with my own body. I started doing the same for other people, I was no longer gravitating toward people that I felt I was prettier than or not threatened by. And instead, I was recognizing people as more than bodies for what we have in common. Things I liked that they said or if you know, she owned something that I wanted to compliment her on, or you know, even shallow things like that. They don't have to drive you apart, they can actually bring you together if you're open to somebody as more than a body.
Well, okay, I have so many more questions. We're running out of time. So, okay, so I'm going to tell everybody to go out and get your book and everyone it's in the show notes. It's called More than A Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not An Ornament by Lexie and Lindsey Kite.
And I just want to ask one more question before we wrap up. You've kind of touched on it a little bit. But what do you think is the first step that women need to take if they are brand new, starting this journey? Aside from getting your book. What is it?
Good question, I would say the first step and that's actually how we lay it out on our book, is to look around at your environment. We call it your body image environment. So take some inventory about how you actually feel about your body. What's your mental thought process around it every day? And then look at the sources that have shaped it. Is it your family members, the people in your immediate circles, the way they talk about their own bodies, or your body? Is it the media that you're exposed to, whether you know, voluntarily or involuntarily, what you've got in your social media feeds, what are those bodies look like? All of that is shaping the way you see yourself, even though you're not really aware of it on a conscious level. So start to notice the ways that you can curate your environment to be a bit more healthy, to value body diversity, to not be so rigid about which bodies are worthy and valuable so you can expand your mind a little bit. And that reaps huge rewards over time for your body image as you start to value more in yourself and in everybody else.
Yeah, definitely. I think once you, you know, you've learned about what self-objectification is today, for people listening. You've learned that it's that thing where you picture yourself instead of just living, and that most people nod their heads in agreement and amazement, that they didn't have a word for that before. But now, when you're scrolling through Instagram or watching TikTok, when you're watching a show with your kids, whatever it might be, when you catch yourself, comparing yourself slipping outside of yourself, to look at how you appear. When you catch yourself doing that, or you see media that is objectifying women, and causing all of us to self-objectify, that's this baseline. That's where you say, what does that feel like? It doesn't feel good. I feel it in my chest. Like I feel this kind of sinking feeling when I catch myself self-objectifying and that's my cue. Like that's my opportunity to come back home. How am I going to do that? Am I going to look down at my body and express gratitude? Am I going to mute unfollow do whatever I have to do online or with what I'm viewing to make sure that I am taking care of myself because nobody else is going to do that for me when it comes to the media I consume. What am I going to do to invite myself back home again and again and that's what we want for everybody that's what we all deserve.
Here here lovely ladies. Thank you so much for being here. We could have gone another hour with this conversation and I want you guys to come back on to talk about aging later. A whole other conversation Okay everybody the book is going to be in the show notes and I really want everybody to go and follow Lindsay and Lexie on Instagram it's @Beauty_Redefined is that correct?
@Beauty_Redefined. Please take a screenshot of this episode wherever you listen to your podcasts and put it in your Instagram stories and tag us I'm @AndreaOwen and @Beauty_Redefined. I always do my best to make sure that I repost those. Thank you, thank you, thank you, everybody, for listening. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
Hey everyone, thanks again for listening to the show. And just a quick reminder that if your company needs a speaker or a trainer, I might be the right person for you. I speak and do keynotes on confidence and resilience for mixed audiences as well as do trainings on the daring way, which is the methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. So if you think it might be a good fit, hit me up at support@AndreaOwen.com or head over to my speaking page AndreaOwen.com/speaking.