Your body is an instrument not an ornament and just in time for the New Year, I’ll help you understand what you can do if you want new tools and skills to be kind to yourself. My guests Doctors Lindsay and Lexi Kite, co-founders of Beauty Redefined, share their wisdom from years of research in their new book More Than a Body.
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. They are here with their first book: MORE THAN A BODY: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament, on sale now.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 0:01
Hey listeners, one of the most important questions that you're going to be asking yourself is, what is it that I can do to do a better job at self care? Where do I begin? How do I make sure that I'm doing the things that are really right for me, and I have an opportunity for you to work with me. It's in a small group. These opportunities are very rare these days. But I am forming a 12 week group, we start January 9, and we're meeting on Saturdays at 1030. Eastern. So no matter where you are, I hope that you can make that time work. And you could join a small circle of folks who want to learn and grow and practice body kindness, who want resilience from body shame, who want to stop the diet roller coaster, or who want to very work on a very specific aspect of their personal well being. You're welcome in our group, and I really invite you to learn more about this group program and other offers that I have going on at BodyKindnessBook.com/offers
Welcome to the Body Kindness Podcast. I'm your host, Rebecca Scritchfield. And I'm here to help you find your inner caregiver, you'll have more compassion, less shame, and the tools you need to deal with a culture that just does not want you to be free to give yourself fierce love. You are welcome and you belong in our community, where we value your well being, we share our experiences and support each other on the body kindness journey. And we know that your health and your worth is not dependent on your weight. If you would like to enjoy self care, be less self critical, and make your life about more than your health routines. Join us at body kindness book.com slash start.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 2:07
If your power has to come from your beauty and how you believe you are being perceived by others. That's fleeting. That can be taken away as easily as it is given. We want people to find their power, not just through their purpose, not just through their bodies as an instrument rather than an ornament. But also we want people to find their power through their pain of living in an objectifying world.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 2:34
That was twin sisters, Dr. Lexi Kite and Dr. Lindsay Kite. They got their PhDs from the University of Utah. You may know them as the co founders of the nonprofit Beauty Redefined. Their latest book is called More Than a Body - Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament. It is a major topic of this podcast interview. I love the book, the prompts the conversation, they do a really great job of pulling out some of the societal elements of how, you know, women's bodies have become objects and how even other women engage in objectifying women. And we talk about this and relevance to celebrity culture. And specifically, in 2020, we saw conversations around Rebel Wilson around Adele, around Billy Eilish, and you know the ways in which of course, we always look at the patriarchy as the example but there are also ways in which we uphold unrealistic standards of kind of leading body positivity among very, very human celebrities that aren't necessarily asking for those jobs. So there's a lot of beautiful things to learn from in this conversation. I'm so grateful for their time I'm grateful for their work. Make sure you check out the links in the show notes to find and follow all their wonderful stuff. And I wish you well, I'm working on your Body Kindness journey. I am running a live group in January. And I would love to see you there you can learn all about ways you can work with me at BodyKindnessBook.com/offers
Lindsay and Lexi Welcome to Body Kindness.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 4:30
Hi, thank you for having us.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 4:33
Was that simultaneous "hi" a twin trait?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 4:38
We're going to have that a lot today, so get ready. Yeah, I was just gonna warn you we talk simultaneously. We have very similar voices and we echo each other just constantly. Get ready.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 4:49
Well, you are not interestingly, my first set of twins on the podcast.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 4:53
Rebecca Scritchfield: 4:54
So I had Emily and Amelia Nagoski, who co-authored Burnout. I know right? Yeah. They were recently on Bene Brown. I was like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe I got to them to so show.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 5:06
Rebecca Scritchfield: 5:07
Yeah. So, so cool. So, yes, I'm so grateful to have you on the show. And and talk to you, I know you have a great book coming out called More Than A Body.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 5:17
Rebecca Scritchfield: 5:19
But before we get into that, I usually love to let listeners know how I came to find the guests. And you know, my story of how you is like, man, Beauty Redefined. And on Instagram, just killing it day one, that is my recollection of finding your wonderful content. It's so inspiring. And you do an excellent job about like, pulling a current event like a current celebrity quote, that's the example. And then in your language in your posts. It's this awesome conversational blend of like, and here's the receipts data point, 123. But like that we can all understand, you know, and so I just love everything about Beauty Redefined. Your body is is an instrument, not an ornament, I teach that to my girls, even at a young age, you know, when I ended up creating and contributing, you know, Body Kindness out there in the world, it was really this idea of, you know, there's so much pain and suffering and cultural pressure when it comes to, especially women's bodies and what they're for. And, you know, running self care, right? And it was like, it turns out, it all depends on your intentions and your why's. And so I really wanted to like offer this idea of that self care can be a really good and meaningful thing. And it depends on who you're listening to, and what you're doing and why on so I really feel like we're a peanut butter and jelly sandwich here today. And I'm so excited to for you to share more about Beauty Redefined. And you know how it came to be and and what you're doing these days to help people?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 7:06
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm in New York City, Lexi's in Salt Lake City. So we're in different places now. But we got our start at the University of Utah, where we did our masters and our PhDs in communication with a real emphasis on body image, especially objectification of women's bodies, through media and cultural influences, and how that affects the way women in particular perceive their bodies feel about them. You know, that's what the whole body image thing comes in. And so all of our work has really focused on how messages whether culturally interpersonally, or through media affects the way women feel about their bodies, which then translates into their self worth, in a culture where women's appearance is the most important thing about them. And so our work was then directed to not only how to critique these types of messages, but how to help women think their way out of it. And really reject those messages in a empowering meaningful ways so that we can go about living even though this world is going to continue to be objectifying a tough place for women.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 8:10
It's so true even to get to that point that where we start to question like, why is this anyway? It can be very powerful. it you know, in mixed emotions, too, right? There's, like proper rage, ah, you suck culture, not me, you know, this kind of fierce rage about it. And then also this sadness, like, oh, the wasted time and energy and the last, there's aspects. And then I think it's like, well, and then what? Right? So you know, because that is, I think what the ask is, is, where can you find your power, and your true power, and that is, you know, within your body and your role and your family and your communities and the world? It's really, I think you really hit on some very contemporary and essential work. And honestly, I feel like you were doing your research at a time when social media was just coming to pass and then what it's turned into now. Yeah. And I just wonder, you have you want to respond to like, any sort of differences in social media or where we're at with it. What's particularly hard these days?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 9:23
Oh, my goodness. Well, we started when we started our master's degrees in media literacy and body image in 2007. I mean, social media was so different than it is now. We had Facebook and it was for socializing, you know, and posting pics. And when Instagram hit the scene, I mean, we were on Facebook early on. So when we started, when we started our Ph. D program in 2009, we decided to put our work online. And we started with just a simple blog and a Facebook page. Just to get the word out about the stuff we were studying. We were studying things like Victoria's Secret And the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue I was talking about the ways that empowerment in quotes is sold to us, and how that might actually be disempowering. And really, kind of selling us our bodies back to ourselves, defining women as our bodies, and giving us like prescribing both the flaws and the solutions for our bodies. We're talking about that kind of stuff. And we posted it all online, as just kind of a side gig for what we were doing. And a lot has changed in that time, when we started, people were not talking about body image, that wasn't a thing, like very few people were. And now it's become such a buzzword, you know, body image, body positivity, celebrities speak out about it to to be real, to be more vulnerable to be more likeable human. You know, it's definitely a different world now. And we are grateful we got on when we did I mean, social media is hard. And honestly, this is still our side gig, our nonprofit beauty redefined as a nonprofit that we began many years ago, and we both worked full time, outside of that nonprofit. But social media has been the way that we've gotten our message out to the world, and hopefully have made a bit of a difference in how people feel about their bodies to feel less defined by their bodies, you know, our mantra is you are more than a body. And that is kind of that's the basis of all of our work. And that does diverged from the work that other people are doing in the body image space. And in the body positivity space, I think in the beginning that maybe created a little bit of friction between what we were doing and what our research was showing, which was that when you are still emphasizing beauty as so central to women's worth and power, when you know body positivity, so much of it is about embracing your beauty and expanding the the definition of beauty to include all women, our flaws are beautiful, we are all beautiful if we understood our power, in our beauty, if we understood that our flaws are beautiful, we would have the you know the power and the courage to change the world. And our response to that was Yes, that's a great first step, to feel beautiful. But what we want people to know is you are more than beautiful, you are more than a body, if your power has to come from your beauty. And how do you believe you are being perceived by others that's leading, that can be taken away as easily as it is given. We want people to find their power, not just through their purpose, not just through their bodies as an instrument rather than an ornament. But also we want people to find their power, through their pain of living in an objectifying world, we want people to find their power, not just in spite of the crap they've dealt with, by living in their bodies, by the harassment and abuse and catcalling and shame and self objectification. But we want them to find their power, because of that pain, to shine a light on it, to see how it could help them as a catalyst for their growth, to help the world to help them open their eyes. You know, that's, that's what it was for Lindsay and I, it was our body shame that kind of catapulted our missions.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 13:16
Mm hmm. I have so much to say in response to that. But I want to start with exactly where you ended was that it was your own lived experience of body shame that ultimately led to your research, and then your discoveries. And this, this real sense of urgency. And I love just as a side note, I love the yes and approach because people do need to start where they are. Right? So if you have that moment of, you know, sending your belly some loving kindness, yes, you've never done that before. And that will so empowering, right? Yeah, do it. And do it again and again. And again, notice how you feel, you know, does that create this caregiving, this compassionate, this gentle self wisdom? And then it's like it's build from there, you know, and I think that that's the flaw, right? When we only focus on individual, you know, my experiences and what I can do, right, we're likely to keep, you know, women oppressing as objects, right, you know, the ornaments, right? And also likely to exclude people who don't carry as much body privilege as we have, even though our pain is individual pain is valid and real. We've got to work through that. I think by make doing the yes and we validate those moments and experiences and also it's kind of like, stretch the idea that, you know, this culture is kind of really crappy to everyone and they, you know, they create these burdens that They wouldn't love us if we just stopped here. Because they get to maintain their power.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 15:06
Yep, totally. And if we've kept playing by those rules, like the rules, say, the beauty is the most important thing about you, and then play by those rules by thinking, Okay, then the way to improve my life is to feel like I'm beautiful, even if I don't fit the mold that they've said. And so then we're still working within the same structures of beauty is the most important thing. If I feel beautiful, then I'm winning. But not everyone is going to be able to feel beautiful, like this mold isn't going to stretch to fit every single one of us. It's just like nature of the game. And also, that feeling of being beautiful or being acceptable and all of that, it goes away really fast, because of the nature of the world we live in, where there are constant messages, defining us by our beauty, our thinness, our you know, skin tone, our hair texture, all that kind of stuff. And so it's a real uphill battle to try to maintain that feeling of Yeah, I am beautiful people do find me attractive, I'm okay, we got to get outside of that structure altogether. And instead be able to feel comfortable enough to move on with our lives to not be so fixated on how we look and how other people perceive us. And then find our value and our power and really our fulfillment through so many other sources. That's only possible when you can step out of this rubric of beauty being the most important thing.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 16:21
Yeah. It makes me want to recommend this. reframe like, what if when you're asking the question, Am I beautiful? That really what this curious, I know, you talk about inner child part in the book. So that's a great section of the book, by the way, when, um, but this curious inner child is actually really asking, am I good enough? And and how do I know I'm good enough? And I think the answer that you just provided essentially, was back to a yes. And of what are the other values? What are the other things that tell us that we are worthy? Where are we living by our values? And taking that? You know, yes. And approach helps us to divest from the rules that we're supposed to follow and expand what we what we want to claim as our own.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 17:21
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 17:23
So could we back it up a minute and learn a little bit more about your history? I know that you guys were swimmers. And while you love the sport, there are maybe some issues that happened. So what would you like to share with listeners about your difficult struggles?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 17:41
Yeah, swimming was a huge part of our lives growing up from super early on, you know, it started in like toddler aged swimming lessons. And within just a few years of that, we were competitively swimming on our cities team. And so this is like a five day a week practice schedule, and a lot of swim meets on the weekends and things like that. It was a real source of our, like, physical fitness and our own confidence and all of that kind of stuff, it was a great way, it was a great thing to be involved in. And it certainly wasn't body centric at all. Even though you're wearing a swimsuit, there is no focus at all on how you look at that swimsuit, while you're swimming and competing. But still, as we were growing up, I have distinct memories. And so dyslexia of being really young, like, you know, we wish no one experienced feelings like this, but we know it's extremely normal, at eight years old to look in the mirror and think, Oh, I have a dimple in my thigh. Like I have to cover that dimple before, I will be eligible to stand on that deck and not be embarrassed, like, I don't want my friends to see it, I don't want my mom to see it. And that was kind of the start of it, where we started to self objectify a little bit, which is to imagine yourself from the outside, you evaluate your body, according to your appearance, and you monitor it. And that started pretty young for both of us. It wasn't too long, like I was 15 years old when I stopped swimming all together. After having an experience where some high school boys joined the swimming class at the same time I was there in the pool. And I completely pretended that I didn't care about swimming anymore. I didn't want them to see me in my swimsuit. So I would talk to them on deck and I would forget my suit and all these things all the time. And that was the beginning of this hiding and fixing but Lexi and I did for a long time. And it wasn't until we got to college that we first started to question this idea that our bodies were wrong. And we started to instead investigate the idea that maybe our thoughts about our bodies were the ones that were wrong. Maybe we had been led to believe that we were abnormal, when really we were perfectly normal. And these ideals we were holding ourselves up against were the ones that were wrong. That's part of our freshman year in college.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 19:45
So I have a question. It sounds like you don't necessarily recall, like explicit events from the coaching or the differences in how boys and girls were treated on the team. That that, you know, could have been traumatic, you know, like, specific to swimming per se. But that, is it that maybe, obviously because you're a person just growing up in our world and I did my first diet at nine, so yeah, at eight I was definitely looking at dibbles and stuff. It's sad, right? I have an eight year old so that I can't even block that out of my mind. So that because that could it be that you cared so much about swimming and doing well at swimming, and that the that sort of that because cultural messages are seeping in and that it wasn't necessarily a connection of coming out from swimming to you, but more of just being a person in the world. And here you're doing something that you care about. And it's the anxiety of being in the world and anxiety of being in swimming is leading to like making this connection up. I'm not sure I'm just really curious, because sometimes we like beat ourselves up, not related to the thing that we're doing.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 20:58
Yeah, totally. Swimming was actually a super healthy environment. For us. We had this really progressive lesbian swim team coach for so many years. Like, for like, armpits, we didn't even know it was weird for women to have like her armpit hair, until we were like teenagers honestly. And, and there was I don't recall any body shaming at all, like, there was a huge 80 of body types on the swim team. And so we didn't stand out as being abnormal or anything. It was really more like messages we were receiving at home and from our, the culture that we were involved in and, and other people from school and media messages in particular, where we started to get the idea that fitness was important. And we weren't necessarily fit. But we Yeah, we grew up in a in a media environment where Lindsay and I have always been interested in like it. We didn't ever like baby things we didn't like dolls and dress up we loved like Saved by the Bell was a favorite show. And we would watch it coming home from school, you know, for an hour a day after school. And we had a family and a community where thinness was clearly valued. Everybody was dieting at a young age, we had a community where our best friend in it was like fifth grade was and we wrote about this in the book was posting Victoria's Secret models on the back of her door as inspiration to not eat. We had all of our friends, it was just I mean, we were in a very white town in Idaho. Mm hmm. But all of our friends knew their weights at you know, we have a friend who knew her weight from any given day that she The photo was taken of her, she could tell you how much she weighed. And Lindsay and I were reading teen magazines and grew up in a very wholesome conservative environment. But we were just desperate for outside information to help us know how we could be valued. And I knew very early on that thinness was how I was going to be loved and how boys we're going to like me how wrens we're gonna like me how I was going to be more popular and more valued. It didn't come from swimming, swimming was like the antithesis of that swimming is where was where we knew our bodies were instruments, not ornaments, but it was every other message that was so normal. That is still so normal. That is how kids are growing up these days.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 23:18
Yeah, I was just going to say, oh, if if it's changed, it's only gotten worse. And we could talk more about that in some social media media tips later, but just you know, I do individual counseling in the DC area. And there was a specific time a couple weeks ago, and I know it was related to kind of COVID in the spring. And they could get through the end of that year. And then this summer of nothing fun. no friends, no camps, no trips, nothing. And it was a you know, several weeks ago, and it was just boom, just a group of people. Several were athletes. And and I definitely counsel clients with eating disorders, but I just my gut tells me that there was a relationship in the timing of the trigger between that downward spiral of timing in isolation and pandemic. And the intention, oh, get better at soccer while we're not practicing soccer. So I'll add running and oh, I'm getting faster. So I'll get better with my food, which is code for eating less and, you know, and performance is suffering. You know, I'm thinking of clients who the teenager clients, they're texting, they're saying connected to their friends by texting food pics, and getting really competitive around it. So yeah, it's it is, like I said it's if it's changing at all, it's getting worse. But we will talk about that in the context of talking about your book because I am so excited about so it's called More Than a Body - Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament and it's available everywhere books are sold. And I feel like duh, I know why they wrote it. But I'm gonna ask you anyway, why did you have to write, in order to write a book, you have to be so passionate about something that you're willing to do what it takes, which is a lot of hard stuff.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 25:17
Rebecca Scritchfield: 25:19
Right, we could commiserate over that.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 25:22
We always say that about getting a PhD, like, That's such a hard thing that you have to be so passionate about the subject. And it's the only thing that will get you through or justify doing something like that. It's similar for the book, I feel like it was such a long process. But one that was, I think, really important for us, because we did 10 years of higher education, studying this stuff, and then continue to run our nonprofit for several years after that. And so we have so much information, we've been running this online course for, I don't know, seven years or something like that, maybe a little longer. And we've been collecting data from participants where they record, you know, baseline information about how they feel about their bodies, to find health and fitness, whether they hold themselves back from sports, or dating or activities, or anything like that. And so we have a really good sense for how women feel about their bodies, how they take that out on their selves and how they treat themselves. And it was important for us to not just like, share it in little bits on social media, but to be able to synthesize it in a way that's really digestible for people, and also walks them through the steps to be able to understand all of the reasons why they might feel negatively toward their bodies, why they might be really fixated on their appearance for in positive or negative ways. It doesn't matter if you feel good about your appearance, if you're thinking about it all the time, you're still it's a detriment to you, because that's part of your mental and physical energy focused on that. And so all of our PhD work was based around this idea of helping women to develop their body image resilience. So going through really difficult things in this objectifying world we live in where most of us feel some shame about our bodies. And we'll go through difficult things, it's important for people to know how to respond to those experiences. And we all respond in ways that typically make us feel worse, or don't make us feel any better at the, you know, the best possible outcome. And what we want people to do is to recognize that there are skills and strategies that you can develop some that you already have access to and and innately know how to do, and something that you can learn and really easy, practical ways that will make a world of difference to how you feel about your body, how you treat your body, even how you look at other people and value other people. So we can root out that objectification in our own worlds in our own lives, and in how we relate to other people as well. That's what the whole book does, is walks people through these steps to be able to develop their own body image resilience.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 27:47
I love the words body image resilience, I think that's so powerful in the word resilience, right? Because it's like, we can't do anything in this very present moment that's going to instantly make culture do exactly what you know, we as women want it to do. And even there might be differences in that. But what we can do is take immediate and meaningful action in our own well being. And a big part of what does it mean to be well, right, is, you know, to look at the ways in which we meet our needs and care for ourselves. And when we're in a culture that doesn't want us to do that, that is where we need the resilience, you know, we need to be able to make our life meaningful and you know, reduce our suffering and our harm in any tangible way. So that we can get better physically, but take care of people we love.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 28:47
Exactly, we see this as of course, body image, resilience happens on an individual level, but that individual level can lead to liberation, body image, resilience can also be collective, it is women, it is female, identifying people, it is every gender breaking free from the power that has been imposed upon us, that we do not deserve, you know, we do not deserve the pain we have experienced in our bodies, the pain of sexual objectification, of self objectification, of illness, of childbirth. You know, of pain in every from the from the up and down glances from your coworker that's judging your body, to the things that people say about your body after you have a baby, or you know, whatever the thing might be, we don't deserve that pain. But we better not normalize it anymore. Like it is up to us to stop swallowing it and allowing it to just be part of our very uncomfortable comfort zone. It is up to us to name it, to shine a light on it, to call it out, and then to liberate ourselves and every other person that needs it. Like our mission is to help We believe in a world where we're women, and all people can do and be so much more. And we know what it feels like to feel so confined by your body, and so defined by your body, that all of your hopes and goals revolve around your body, you think, maybe I will get a new boyfriend, when I lose some weight, maybe I'll have a better sex life with my partner, when I lose some weight, maybe I will be healthier and happier when I lose some weight. When I fit into that pair of jeans in the back of my closet. That's when you know, that's when my life will be complete. None of those things are true. That is the message that has been sold to us that makes hundreds of billions of dollars a year. The truth is that you can't fix your body image by fixing the outside. And we want people to find their power beyond their outsides. Mm hmm.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 30:54
Yes, just before we came on to record, I had a new client, a male, who's that who's fighting for his sobriety. And he also wants to weigh a weight that he's never weighed, except for maybe, you know, sometime between high school and college and holding space for that and holding space for all that pain and trying to gently work in a counseling scenario with that it just, yeah, it's very like I can, I'm bringing it up, because I can feel exactly what you're saying. And I instantly thought of that, that is like a of him right in this gripping power, that diet, culture and body shame will have over someone. You know, it's just, it's really painful and heartbreaking.
Let's take a quick pause from this conversation for an important message from Bernie Salazar.
Bernie Salazar 31:59
Hey, listeners, Bernie Salazar here asking you to support our show, make your contribution at Gofundme.com/bodykindness, and 100% of any amount you can give goes to offset to production expenses. If 20 people can donate $25, it pays for this episode. Again, that's Gofundme.com/bodykindnessGofundme.com/bodykindness to chip in and support our show. We're so grateful to have you as a listener. And we thank you for your support.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 32:35
I wanted to pivot on just because I had written it down in my marker that's about to die out. But I just keep highlighting it several times. You know, when you use the old marker, you're like, wait, it's like, because you had mentioned about how we talk about people's bodies. And so I'm going to mention Adele, Rebel Wilson and Billy Eilish. And I don't know if you know any of the stories behind any of them, or all of them, or you want to pick one. But those are the ones that I could think of that just most recently, you know, there's trolling, there's articles, there's a weird focus on things, you know, that might just help people see what we're trying to talk about in this cultural body hierarchy.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 33:19
Absolutely. We just recently posted about, I guess it was a while ago with Adele, when she first revealed herself without even talking about her body, but just posted a photo where she was much smaller. And there was just a ton of conjecturing about how she did it and what her diet might be. We found that to be a time where a lot of women who identified with Adele, because of her bigger body, were suddenly thrown for a loop, where body shame just thinks in and you see that photo of her, and you feel it in your chest, you feel like weight. So her body was wrong, she felt like she needed to lose all that weight. What does that mean, for me, like so many body positive activists, were suddenly feeling a little bit sick inside, because we hold up these women who there's very few of them that are that have larger, fatter bodies. in mainstream media, we hold them up as our body positive icons, simply because of their bodies. And so we talked about the fact that Adele and every other larger woman who then loses weight becomes an involuntary before and after in our public consciousness. And what does that mean for us? You know, Lindsay and I, for many years have spoken out about the harms of before and after photos. I remember years and years ago, seeing all these before and afters coming up for body positive activists who were talking about how I love my body now because I got healthy and the weight just fell off. And we were calling it out the harms of after photos, objectify women and objective by our help, which is something we've been talking about for so long, and people were so mad when We started talking about that. But now, now within the body positive and body image community, everybody calls up before and afters. So I'm glad that we've come full circle in that way. But there's still this world where we hold up these women. And we inadvertently objectify them, by defining them by their larger bodies. And then all of a sudden when they lose weight, due to societal pressure, due to their career pressure, maybe for their, you know, they may be adult thinks she was losing weight for her health, maybe she was we have no idea. She hasn't talked about it. All of a sudden, we are shocked by this and don't really know how to deal. Lindsay, do you want to add to that a bit? Yeah, it's like all of these women never intended to be role models, because of their audience. And yet, we placed that pressure on them. And even somebody like Billy Eilish, who has tried so desperately to not be defined by her body, like, in in more ways, she's defined by like her hair color, and her outrageous fashion and all of that stuff. Obviously, she's more defined by her singing in this incredible career. She's built for herself at such a young age. But she has completely taken her body out of the equation, in every way a person possibly could. And yet, the one time she's featured in a photograph where her her clothes are a little more form fitting a little more revealing than that is all the news can talk about. That's all anyone can talk about is how her body looks, that is the epitome of objectification, when the most important thing we see in a woman is how she looks were objectifying her doesn't matter if we are celebrating her for being big and proud of whatever or being or losing weight and getting healthier. Every single thing we do when we are talking about these women's bodies is objectifying them. And we then internalize that same pressure on ourselves. We're all inadvertently comparing ourselves to these women all the time, we're seeing how we measure up. It's how our brains operate, especially with social media. And this isn't so much the case for boys and men, a lot of times when they're comparing themselves on social media, it's often in terms of popularity, success, related to their career and their talents and things like that. But for women, research shows, overwhelmingly, we're simply comparing our bodies, our appearances, even the appearance of our lifestyles, to other women. And this leaves us at a disadvantage every single time. Because not only when we're comparing ourselves to someone who we think is more beautiful or more, you know, popular than us, we come up short, because we feel less unity toward all other women, anytime we're comparing ourselves. This is where we really end up hurting ourselves, because this self comparison thing is tearing us apart. And what we need to do is unite together and recognize these common bounds that are, you know, that are binding all of us that are keeping us fixated on comparison and driving us apart, as opposed to uniting together to say, Hey, we're all kind of suffering in these conditions. And we can do better than that.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 37:58
Yeah. I love how you threaded it in the book, because it goes from introducing social comparison and compare and despair and reflections that help you make sense of what you've been doing. And then it leads into self compassion and self kindness. And then it leads to what I've been. So I have the the net galley on my phone. But what I've had open on my phone of like, Oh, it's a chapter I want to talk about, which is "From divided to united as women" I think you did an excellent job at kind of carrying readers along the way. Because we do need to get to this, which is your fourth chapter. And you have like a few reflection questions like one of them is, have you ever passed judgment on someone because of how they looked or dressed? Have you ever found out those judgments were wrong? Have you ever felt judged by someone because of how you looked or dressed? And then you ask folks to to write about it? And then you go on to write an awesome epic chapter for where where we want to Yes, on this conversation in our healing. So what would you like to share with listeners about being united in this? transition?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 39:12
Yeah, I think that you know, the chapter right before it is about self objectification, to self actualization. How can we individually get from a place where we feel so defined by and fixated on our bodies as our prisons, our prisons, we decorate? How can we step outside those doors? And then the next chapter is from divided to united as women, how can we collectively lift ourselves out of this myth out of this myth that beauty and bodies are everything?
Rebecca Scritchfield: 39:43
And how are women divided and they're not seeing it? Because I think this is very much the wake up call version. You know, I feel like for me this year, it was when I was interviewing the co authors of Believe me, and we talked about feminism and what's wrong with white feminism and they said, what we just tend to make it about ourselves and not it's not intersectional enough. And so I could see that being kind of a key reason, you know, to what keeps us divided. So I would love to hear you talk a little bit more about your beliefs and like what what women need to know to do better and, and how you can help them.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 40:21
Yeah, women are divided against each other in an objectifying culture, especially in a patriarchal, patriarchal culture, because we are in competition with each other for finite resources. And those finite resources aren't really about finite, but we're convinced that they are. And it's, so obviously, we're fighting to be the most beautiful in the room, the thinnest in the room, and the most desirable. So often what we're fighting for is the attention of men, and the attention of people who have more power than us, we end up fighting for these scraps of power that are given to us by people who have more power, which are usually men, men who have more money, more leadership, power, social capital, all of these things. And so as women, so many times, we end up being pitted against each other, to try to be the most popular, the most powerful, the most successful. And unfortunately, a lot of the ways women are finding that power is through that same objectification. Through being the most attractive one and getting the most validation and all of that women are overwhelmingly valued for how they appear. The women who get the most likes and the attention on social media are the most beautiful ones that fit all of the typical ideals. And also the ones that are most willing to share their bodies with the world, whether it's, you know, in the name of body positivity, or just simply like traditional sex appeal, all that kind of stuff, that will always get the most attention from men and women, because men are sexually attracted to it. And women want to see what it takes to be sexually attractive to men. And of course, this is a very simplified way of putting it but at the core of it, so much of it is the root of it is sexual objectification where women are valued in such limited ways. Whereas men can be valued in so many more ways. Yes, sexual appeal. physical attractiveness is one of the ways that men are valued, but also it's their talents, their success, their wealth, their intelligence, their sense of humor, all of these things. And if they don't have the perfect physical body to go along with it, it's not a deal breaker, you know, they can still have everything that they want in this life. But for women, we can have all of those other characteristics of success. But unless we have the physical beauty, and the sexual appeal to go along with it, we will always feel like we're falling short. And the rest of the world will always perceive that we are falling short, and will remind us of it.
And our research shows just how complicated this gets. Because research backs up the fact that women discriminate against other women that they feel are more attractive than they are. So we believe that we're operating with these limited resources like beauty, like desirability, and then in a workplace setting. In a voting for political office setting in a friendship or family setting, we inadvertently and subconsciously compare ourselves to other women. And when we fall short, which we almost always will, because we're comparing their highlights to our every day, every bit of us, we fall short. And then the division just increases, it divides us even more. When the truth is, when you can first see yourself and value yourself as more than a body when you aren't so focused on your flaws and your parts that you hate and what you need to fix. And what will make you happier, if you fix it, then all of a sudden, women aren't threats to you anymore. They're allies, like we see so many women who feel like other women are threats to their relationships. So they get mad when they see teenage girls or grown women wearing something that they wouldn't wear or that they feel uncomfortable with because their partner might be attracted to them. We see those women hate those other women not hate that their partner is looking elsewhere. You know, we feed these these things that feel like such deep threats to our to our own livelihoods, to our own love and happiness and health. And then we are divided again and again. But the truth is that when you can see yourself as more than a body, you lay the foundation to see everybody else as more than a body. And all of a sudden, you can practice some kindness and compassion. Instead of seeing that woman as a threat to your partner, to your employment to whatever it is because she's more beautiful. You start to see her with a little bit more compassion.
Maybe you see that she has gained a lot of value throughout her life because of her looks. And she is trying desperately to cling to that source of value and power by focusing a lot of time and attention on her looks at her body, she is just scraping for those scraps of power that we all feel like are the limited resources we have, that we are endowed from other people. And you'll be able to humanize other people that way, too. The problem is when we're objectified, we see each other as objects to as opposed to humans. And we can find all we want to have ourselves be seen as fully human, and not just defined by, you know, in these limited ways. But in process, we learn to see other people as humans to fully fleshed out individuals who are seeking love and attention and power and success and help in all the same ways we are because they're surrounded by all the same objectifying messages we are, we have to hold that, that common humanity and that compassion for other people in order to be able to move forward and, and fight all of this stuff. Collectively, it's going to be impossible individually, I might be able to feel okay about myself. But we're not really winning if every other woman on my block or in my office is fixated on her appearance and feeling negatively. We're held back culturally, society when women, even part of their mental energy is dedicated to how they look and trying to upkeep appearances in ways that men aren't asked to do. We have to fight.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 46:18
Yeah, it's so essential. Desmond Tutu, my favorite quote, I love quotes, I'm a quote, girl, but I love my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 46:31
Rebecca Scritchfield: 46:32
And it really influenced me when I was constructing a philosophy for body kindness. You know, I, I knew, like, similar to you, right? I know, I knew I needed to start with the individual, because that's the way that we think, you know, how can I make my life better? What do I do if I care about my health, and I don't ever want to die. It Again, was just a quick side note, I love your chapter on health and wellness, and I love there's it's very, very good. And I love how you talk about about being more than an after just disassociated, you know, because people can get really hung up on that. Well, but this person Lose Weight Loss Weight or whatever, like and and there's the we miss the collective well being thing. And it's the whole idea that we keep using the body as a sign of health. It's really twisted and or people think, oh, if I'm not dieting, so what I'm supposed to, like never exercise or, you know, and I'm like, well, diet culture stole what broccoli meant, what if we, you know, reframing? And it is it's hard and confusing, but I'm so grateful that you included it in there, because health is so integrated into how we think of our bodies that it's essential.
Anyway, back to Desmond Tutu, and collective well being, he was really influential. And in that quote, and me thinking about, okay, you could start with the individual, but when you're helping to free up space, what what do people not know, yet, or don't hold true to their values yet. But if they did, life would be so much better. And so it was in the Connect pillar, where I talked about besides connecting to your body, the value of connecting to others, and really conceptualizing, what would it feel like to enjoy a walk and talk in nature with a friend and the connection that happens there. And if a part of you doesn't code that, as you know, good enough exercise, that then is where the work is, and then and then care, you know, this idea that will, you'll fully commit to your well being no matter what and you know, which, again, you had you wrote about citing Kristen neffs work in the book, and you have great reflections for that. And then, you know, back to the Desmond Tutu quote, there is that this idea that caring is about caring for others. So like, we can all love a good bubble bath. And also understand the reason why we are relegated to taking all these bubble baths is because there's lots of cultural problems, and that we do need to expand definitions for care to care for others and to make this about more, and our collective well being. And I think you're right, I think it will help shatter that our competitive nature and also acknowledge that, hey, we are oppressed and in the oppressed women's group, some are more privileged, and some have intersecting multiple oppressions. The ones of us who have the most privilege in the oppressed group, we have got to be doing some listening and elaborating and expanding because because of the power that we hold.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 49:34
Yeah, absolutely. We talk about that. Yeah, yeah, that's our final chapter. In addition to being able to listen and understand all the ways that we hold privilege, especially as people who are white and straight and middle class or upper class and have all of you know, beauty privilege in whatever ways, we need to recognize that we have a responsibility to break some of those rules when it comes to objectification And beauty ideals, because not everyone has the ability to break those rules in the same way as we do. Other people might face more repercussions for doing so if we can push back on some of the beauty expectations and, and the beauty work that requires that our beauty ideals are increasing every single day, the expectations of what we have to do, do our hair, our faces, our bodies constantly, just to keep up with today's current duty standard is getting more and more outrageous. And unless those of us who have enough privilege to push back on it, and still have a good life, and still have employment, and still have people who care about us and a place to live, unless we push back on those things and say, You know what, I don't actually need Botox to to be okay, in my life, I don't actually need to chemically straightener color my hair in order to just survive and actually maybe even thrive in my own life, I don't have to lose weight in order to be okay. I show people that those things are not required. I push back on those rules so that employers who are discriminating against other people will not have that as an excuse anymore, we'll be able to see that someone who maybe doesn't fit all the ideals is just as good of a worker and just as valuable or whatever can bring so much to the table without looking like a perfect 10 every time they walk into the boardroom, like their individual ways that we can all push back on these lies that tell us we won't be happy, we won't be successful, we won't be loved or healthy, unless we look a certain way and fight aging for the rest of our lives. And try to maintain thin ideals for our entire lives, restrict and restrict forever. Like these were all in a prison individually, if we're doing that. Those of us who are able to push back have to be able to do it. And it's hard. And it takes courage and will be uncomfortable. But it's important that we try or else people who are who have less privilege and the younger people who are growing up and watching us take all of these measures in order to improve or upkeep our appearances. They'll never be able to break those rules either. Because mom had to do it. So why should my my older sister had to do it? You know, my teachers? Yeah, it's important that we break the rules.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 52:06
Yeah, and I have a tip for the encouraging the pushback. So the book is wonderful lis listeners, you know, need to get it there in doing the reflections, right. So if you do the reflections, that's already a meaningful action, because you're going to start to build on your awareness and expand it. And then another pushback is sharing what you're reading with a friend or book clubbing it with a friend and yeah, having conversations in a trusted group of people or a trusted other. Because those conversations, I mean, I would think that they would help you learn and grow and feel better in the immediate moment. But we also don't have to know the impact of that of reading that passage doing that reflection and do and having the conversation. We don't have to know, in this moment, it will come out to you in a surprising way. And the pushback can look like a lot of things, you know, it is at any size, refusing a weight at the doctor unless medically necessary. And then it's being a decision maker. And structurally that says, hey, we want to acknowledge that weight stigma and racism is real in the medical field. And it's killing people. So it's it's kind of like all sides and all elements. But I really find that people discredit the impact that they can make by reading a book and reflecting themselves, but it's it's literally, you're teaching yourself the resilience.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 53:37
Yeah, totally opening up that conversation to other people. Because like part of this whole unity thing. And the competition problem is that we all feel like we have our own individual problems. Like we're all suffering in silence. We all think we're alone, that we are the only ones who are so embarrassed and ashamed and fixated on food and exercising all of these things, when really, it's almost all of us in some way. And at some point in our lives, it's so important that we break that silence around it, talk to each other. And this book would be a really great way to do that, I think because it does walk people through those steps of having a really holistic understanding of body image and how to improve it.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 54:13
Yeah, I think it's really amazing. And once again, the book is called More Than a Body - Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament, and it's available everywhere books are sold. Lindsay and Lexi, congratulations. I love your book. I love your work. I can't wait to cue learning from you. Where else can folks find and follow you?
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 54:36
You can find us on our website MoreThanABody.org we're on beauty redefined at beauty under Or on Instagram at beauty_redefined. We're on Facebook and beauty redefined on twitter @takebackbeauty but you can go to our website for all of this.
Rebecca Scritchfield: 54:52
Yep. And I will share the link to your website. Obviously the book and also some of my favorite posts including the Adele post you mentioned so that folks can find that that will all be in the show notes. Thank you once again for coming on Body Kindness.
Lindsay and Lexie Kite: 55:05
Rebecca Scritchfield: 55:13
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