Today I interviewed Lexie Kite, who is one half of the nonprofit Beauty Redefined. And I've been following them for a very long time on Instagram, and love what they put out, the science and the research behind what they put out, and how they really are shifting perspectives of so many people and so many women in the world right now. And the conversation that ensued is amazing and it's gonna blow your mind. It is going to make you think in different ways. Lexie gives some really tangible steps that we can do right now to improve our body image, and also to improve our daughter's and our son's body image. And she has some really great perspectives when it comes to the media and our bodies. She has a PhD, she is a powerhouse and the work that Beauty Redefined is doing is so incredibly valuable. I hope you enjoy!
Media as a factor with our body image issue. (09:27)
Your body is an instrument, not an ornament. (22:04)
Feel happy and blessed with the privileges that you have in life. (40:09)
Body image resilience gives opportunity to reframe experiences and pain. (48:34)
Action items to improve children’s body image. (43:03)
I hope as you left this episode, you felt like there's a light and a possibility for you to be able to get to the place where you are not thinking about your body 24/7, and that you can use that energy that you have been using on hating your body to a place of being able to look at your body as something that is able to do things for the world. It's able to go out and make choices and make a change and find vaccines and lift heavy weights and it's something that allows you to do and live and not just something to be looked at. Hopefully that was a huge takeaway, that your body is an instrument, not an ornament and that you are so much more than just the body that you are housed in.
Beauty Redefined Website
Beauty Redefined Instagram
You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 87
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer,
online fitness coach, wife, and mom of four. My guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:46
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm your host Amber Brueseky and boy oh boy do I have an amazing podcast interview today for you? So today on the podcast, I interviewed Lexie Kite who is one half of the nonprofit Beauty Redefined. So Lexie and Lindsay Kite are twins and they have started this nonprofit called Beauty Redefined. And I've been following them for a very long time on Instagram, and just have a love, what they put out, the science and the research behind what they put out, and how they really are shifting perspectives of so many people and so many women in the world right now. And when I started biceps after babies radio, and I made a list of like the people that I wanted to come on the podcast, the two women, Lexie and Lindsay from Beauty Redefined were at the top of that list and they have been someone I've been wanting to get on the podcast for such a long time and I'm just so grateful that Lexi took the time out to be able to chat with me. And the conversation that ensued was amazing and it's gonna blow your mind. It is going to make you think in different ways. When we start talking about body image, and body positivity, and body resiliency. And Lexie really gets granular especially make sure you stay till the very end of the podcast because at the end of the podcast, Lexie gives some really tangible like actionable steps that we can be doing right now to improve our body image, and also to improve our daughter's and our son's body image. And she just has some really great perspectives when it comes to the media when it comes to our bodies. And I loved the way that she answered even the hardball questions that I threw at her, which one of them was is there a way to set, is it you know, okay to set and work to achieve aesthetic goals and so we get into that and I love the way that Lexie was able to answer that question and really come at it from the perspective that she brings, backed by research and science. She has a PhD, she is a powerhouse and the work that Beauty Redefined is doing is so incredibly valuable.
Amber B 3:02
Now if you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you may remember that back in Episode 52, I shared a live class that I taught about body positivity to some of the young women who are in my local area. I went up to a girls camp and I was able to teach a lesson on body positivity. And I recorded it and shared it on the podcast. So that's episode number 52. And I highly suggest going and listening to that episode. But I made it clear in that episode that the resource I used to get the information to teach that lesson was specifically from Beauty Redefined. And they have some amazing resources both to be able to teach others about this topic. At the end, Lexie talks about their body resiliency course. And so there's a lot of information that Lexie shares for free here on the podcast, but then if and when you want to be able to take the next step and really learn and dive more into this topic. Then there are lots and lots of resources and Lexie shares those with us here. Now without further ado, because I want you to hear more from Lexie then I want you to hear from me on this topic. We are going to jump into that podcast interview with Lexie Kite from Beauty Redefined.
Amber B 4:14
I am so excited to welcome Lexie Kite to the podcast. Hey, Lexie.
Amber B 4:20
I am just so excited to be able to chat with you. I've been trying to make this happen. And with all the things going on, we finally were able to get our schedules together. And you are just such a powerhouse that I'm excited to have on the podcast.
So thank you so much. You're doing such awesome work too. I'm so happy to be here.
Amber B 4:36
Yes. Awesome. Okay, so will you first for anybody who hasn't heard of you and your twin sister Lindsay, and your nonprofit Beauty Redefined? Will you just give us a quick overview of what you guys do and why you do it?
Yes. Okay. So I could give you the long answer or the short answer. I'll just give you like the medium answer
Amber B 4:56
if that works. Okay, so yeah, we are identical twins, we have been running this nonprofit Beauty Redefined for, mmm, like 10 years now, I don't know that we've been an official nonprofit for 10 years, but we've been running this company. And it started at the culmination of our master's degrees and the beginning of our PhDs that Lindsay and I, we were identical twins that really didn't want to lead identical lives when we were younger. We were super competitive. And, you know, our freshman year, we shared a dorm room. We didn't love that we were just around each other a lot and fought over all the typical things you can imagine, like sharing each other's clothes. And our freshman year at Utah State University, we both took this required course for journalists, because we both knew we wanted to study journalism in some form. And so we both took the same course, we took different sections of it because we didn't want to be such twins and have to, you know, live our lives completely identically in the same classes, but I remember going to this class, it was about media literacy, like the ability to really read and comprehend and understand why media messages are created the way they are. Why have women been represented the way they are? That was just one of the questions we were answering. And I remember sitting in that classroom, that first day I was 18. And my heart pounded faster. I got goosebumps, I kind of felt like crying. It felt very much like a kind of spiritual experience when I heard my professor explain the way the media is profit-driven. And so the women in media, in entertainment media, not just like commercials and advertising and magazines, those women have to uphold those ideals that they're selling in the advertisements. That was like such a shock to me to think that I had really been impacted by ideals of what women should look like even just normal women you know, you only see women represented In one way, for the most part, in all forms of media, they're usually like very thin, but with curves in all the right places, and young with long hair and long eyelashes and thick eyebrows and tiny noses. You know, that's just, it's what we see. I remember going home to my shared dorm room with Lindsay and telling her about this class and her saying, Oh my gosh, I also had that class today, I had the exact same experience. It was amazing. And we knew right then we just kind of had this inkling that we had work to do in this field that we had both been really impacted by these unrealistic, objectifying ideals that had really imposed on our lives in ways that we didn't quite know how to articulate that we thought was really normal. Because everybody in our lives kind of felt the same way. And that opened up these doors for 10 years of research through our bachelor's, master's and PhDs. And our work of Beauty Redefined to help people recognize when their body image is a burden to them. When you feel defined by the appearance of your body at the expense of everything else about you when you feel self-conscious. And we help people through this kind of new model we came up with called body image resilience, which is the ability to use the hard things you experienced in your body. The bullying, the shame, the hard things like childbirth, and weight gain, and weight loss, and injury, and illness, to use your pain to become your platform to make you stronger and more compassionate, to better understand your body, understand the pain, other people experience. So that's I guess that was probably more of a long answer than a medium answer. But
Amber B 8:38
no, it was. It was perfect because it sets us up for so many like amazing discussions that we can have and people can listen into. Because this is something that we don't talk about a lot and and I love that you guys are giving it ways
Amber B 8:52
and giving it a platform and helping women to not feel alone in the struggle and giving them tools to be able to work through it. And when
Amber B 9:00
we can do that, we can bring it to light, we can start to make changes and see
Amber B 9:06
see it be, you know, be better this year than it was last year and, and continue making progress. So
Amber B 9:12
I want to go back to the class that you were sitting in and you're talking about, you know, how women are portrayed in the media. So not that we're placing, like 100% blame on anybody. But would you say that the media is mostly to blame for this issue that we have in it with our body image?
Good question. This is something that we've studied a lot. And for the most part, media is our shared cultural messaging. So yes, in a lot of ways, you know, I'm 34 years old. So if I'm talking to people that are around my age, we grew up like a little bit before the internet, so we didn't grow up on social media. But what we did have was a few people making all the decisions for what was on TV, and in magazines, and in movies, I'm talking about like a handful of companies and CEOs that make the decisions for what gets on the air. And so these people, I mean, I could give you an entire media literacy lesson, but you probably wouldn't love it. At the end of the day, there are just a few people that make these decisions and these are people who profit a lot from girls and women feeling very self-conscious of and very fixated on and defined by their bodies. It's why we see animated movies with these little princess ideals where you see all of the women looking exactly the same. Some of those features I talked about earlier, like the big eyes and the tiny noses and the tiny chins. They're almost always white. They have long flowing hair, big boobs, tiny waist, big hips, you know, these are these. This kind of forms this shared cultural understanding of what it means and what it looks like to be female. That goes all the way up to the anti-ageing solutions that we all think we need to start using from the time we are 20 and see our first little wrinkle or whatever the thing is. So I would say yes, the media has a ton to do with it. Now more so than ever, because now, the media isn't only in the hands of a few business people making these decisions for profit, but we replicate what we see, because of social media. So now we have influencers and your sister in law, and your mom, and all your friends from school, replicating these ideals. So we use face tune to kind of clear up any zits on our faces and make our eyes look a little bit bigger. And, you know, to all of the editing we do that all of us do, whether we can admit to it or not. That kind of just makes us look a little bit we'd say better in clothes or a little bit more ideal to fit these ideals we've always grown up with, so we're all kind of complicit in that. But yes, I would say the media has a ton to do with it.
Amber B 12:03
Yeah. So I have a question in regards to how this impacts the men because just
Amber B 12:09
like there's an ideal woman look, I mean, there's definitely the same for men, right? Like tall, dark, handsome, you want the V shape, you want the slender waist, you want the big shoulders, you want the muscles? Like, there's
Amber B 12:20
definitely a look for them as well. What is the difference? Because I feel like not as many not all, but as not as many men struggle with body image
Amber B 12:30
Amber B 12:31
as compared to women. So what is the difference if the media is creating this ideal for both? How are we as women and men interpreting that differently?
The difference is that yes, there are these ideals for men and they're getting more intense and they're getting more objectifying. But at the end of the day, look around at all of the media you consume at all of the messages you consume, and men are still valued for much more than their bodies. You still see the leading man in leading roles in movies and TV that are much much older than their female counterparts. So,
Amber B 13:06
as you could say
oh my gosh, it will make you so mad when you open your eyes and see it. Men get to be 70 years old and James Bond. Women,
Amber B 13:16
the counterpart and James Bond is one example of 10 million examples. Men get to be different shades of skin tones. You see dark black men that are represented positively. You see fat men represented positively, short men, bald, whatever it is. They get to be grey-haired news broadcasters. When women, you almost never see grey-haired ageing anchors in TV news broadcasting. It is there is such a massive disparity between the ways we value men and women. Boys don't grow up being told “how cute they are” and “how beautiful and handsome they are”. And “look at your pretty little outfit” or “look at your…” you know we don't talk to boys like that. We talk about how funny and rambunctious they are. But girls because we grow up decorating them in a way we don't for boys. We talk about “those that beautiful little bow in her hair”, and “oh, look at that dress, give me a twirl”. We talk about the toys they're playing with that often represent these really objectifying ideals. They're these dolls with those same big eyes and tiny waists. And you know, the works. It's the makeup kits and the dress-up kits, we give little girls that we would never give to little boys, you know, it starts young, but basically, throughout our entire lives, we remind girls every step of the way that their value is in their appearance, and we don't do that for boys.
One way that I like to explain this to people is that you know, boys and men have confidence issues too. They have self-esteem issues. They have body image issues too, but you will never hear an organization, a viral video, a well intentioned speaker, you will never hear somebody trying to help boys and men self-esteem issues. Tell them how cute they are, how handsome they are, flaws and all, you will never hear them say, “If you had any idea how handsome you were, you would have the confidence to go out and change the world. You'd get out there and just live.” And we kind of laugh at that. Like it sounds funny to think of because boys and men would never take that and be like, “yeah, you're right. I am more handsome than other people think I am. I can get out there and change the world, you know”, but that's what we do to girls and women. So look around and you see so many well-intentioned speakers and videos and advertising campaigns that all revolve around them telling us we are more beautiful than we think we are. “We are beautiful flaws” and all I put that in quotes. What all of these messages are doing is actually just re centralizing, refocusing on beauty as the utmost value we have to give in the world. But if we could just feel beautiful, if we could just know how beautiful we are, then we'd be okay. And the truth is, that's not how it works. If that's how it worked, my goodness, all we would have to do is lose weight or get a tan or change your hair or fix your skin, and then we'd be okay, then we'd be happy. But we all know that's not how life works.
Amber B 16:23
You can't fix an internal problem
Amber B 16:25
with an external solution.
Amber B 16:26
So that's where like Beauty Redefined comes in. We saw really early on. Before people were even really talking about body image before it was such a buzzword before celebrities were being vulnerable and opening up about their own body image struggles. Lindsay and I started noticing that the solutions for body image weren't working, that nobody was actually helping girls and women get to the root of the problem. Because the root of the problem is not that we don't think we're beautiful enough. The root of the problem is that we're trying to fix an internal confidence and purpose problem with these external solutions that just objectify us even more. So we're not here to tell people, you're beautiful. We're here to tell people you are more than beautiful. You are more than a body, we have work to do. And it has nothing to do with how well you decorate the world.
Amber B 17:19
That's so good. And I think this brings in the conversation that I really wanted to highlight because, we, the body positivity movement, is such a big movement right now,
Amber B 17:29
online, in social media and the solution that the buzzy body positivity repeats is that we don't have enough, ahm, we don't show enough different types of women in the media, right. And so,
Amber B 17:42
this comment that like, you know, we show a lot of white women we need to show women of color, we show a lot of thin weight and when we you know show women of different body shapes. And so the whole solution that the
Amber B 17:51
body positivity movement has presented to us is that we just need to show more types of women in the media but that is not the solution that you guys have centered on and so I want you to kind of explain the difference
Amber B 18:04
because I think it's so valuable.
Thank you. This was it's something that we are we've written about extensively in our book that's coming out in a few months, titled “More than a Body”.
Amber B 18:15
Surprise, surprise. And this is something that has really set us apart, but it has made some people really mad at us. And it's been really scary to do because we do not like conflict. We do not like arguing on the internet with strangers, my goodness, but we felt like very compelled to, in many ways, set the record straight about something. And that is that in all of our research, it kind of goes back to what I just spoke about the fact that so many people's solutions are actually just reinforcing the problem. They're just making the problem worse, the problem that we feel so defined by our bodies, and what we saw was that as Instagram has grown, as these social media sites that are really visually based have grown and expanded. A lot of people within the body positivity movement, which has become so popular because of these visual platforms, have used this opportunity to teach and show body positivity by showing more bodies. And in many ways, that is good. That is the first step. Because what we want is to see more media messages that reflect reality, that reflect what you look around and see in your real life to normalize normalness, to normalize humaneness humanity in all of its varying and diverse capacity. So yes, it's so important that we see different shapes of bodies and different colors of bodies, different ages of bodies. Yes, that is so important. But at some point, we need to take the next step and the next step isn't just prioritizing more bodies. It's not just saying, my body is beautiful, and my body is beautiful. And guess what, my body is beautiful too. It's not just saying, My body is capable of being looked at too. It's saying, I am more than my body. If we are continuing to try to prove women's confidence and purpose and well being and health by showing more bodies, then we are simply just objectifying our bodies, we aren't actually proving to the world that we are anything more than objects and bodies to be looked at, to be evaluated. And so basically, what we're getting at here is that there have kind of, there has to be a next level of body positivity. The first level, we feel like in many ways, has been passed that first level is that we are now seeing more and different bodies. So if you want to see yourself reflected in social media at least, in many ways popular media is lagging far behind but is getting a little tiny bit better in this regard. And that is that you can see yourself represented positively in social media, if you look hard enough whether you have a disabled body, or a differently-abled body, a black body, an old body, grey hair, whatever the thing might be, you can find people who look like you representing themselves positively because they've taken their power back from really profit-driven ideals and are able to show their body and themselves online. And that is really great. But we have more work to do. If we just keep trying to prove our confidence and our abilities by showing our bodies we aren't getting far enough. So we're here to say, “Yes!, you have a body and that is an amazing thing.” But the next step is something we've been pioneering for lots of years online, and that's kind of more of this body neutrality movement. It's what we've always referred to as positive body image.
Amber B 21:59
The idea that your body is good regardless of how it looks,
Amber B 22:04
the idea that your body is an instrument, not an ornament. That's like our popular mantra that is also the subtitle of our book and is a real game-changer. It has been for me, for Lindsay and for lots of people. And that that is this idea that your body is more instrumental than ornamental that your body's here for doing. But if I could add, what we kind of expound upon in our book, in a big way, is what we found in our doctoral research, and that is that body positivity is a great first step. And body neutrality is a really awesome second step in healing your body and in healing the whole world of objectification. But the real, like the real game-changer, the real third step is body image resilience. It's the ability to become more because of what you have experienced in your body because of the pain of objectification not in spite of it, you use the pain you've experienced to be more and I can explain what that means in real-world terms. But I don't want to just drone on and on about this.
Amber B 23:11
Yeah, no, it's so good. And as you were talking, I had the question. Uhm,You know, let's take ourselves out 100 years from now. And let's just pretend that like, the media has gotten so bad, much better. Like we aren't, you know, having this people have heard this message of objectification and they've really moved past it and it's gotten so much better. Do you at that point have body resiliency fall off? And it is in them the really the highest point is neutrality, because you're not having to use those negative experiences as a positive. Do you see what I'm saying?
Yeah, that's, that's a great question. I actually think that body image resilience is the only way we are going to work through any of these issues, because objectifying ideals are not going anywhere. They make hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Like think about the anti-ageing industry alone, that is an industry that targets women specifically like when was the last time you heard any boy or man in your life worried about the wrinkles on his forehead,
Amber B 24:10
totally Crow's never,
you know,or the size of his pores. Never! Because this is an industry built on the backs of women. Women that they say are not okay the way they are, that are not stately and you know Silver Fox status. Those are not things that women get whatever that word is, the honor of being. Instead, every inch of our bodies has been co-opted, the skin on our faces, the skin on every inch of our bodies. If you're black, you're too dark and you need split skin bleaching and skin whitening creams. If you're white, you're too white and you need tanning creams. And the same companies L'Oreal, Revlon, Dove, Neutrogena, all of these companies sell skin lightening products outside the US and skin I mean, yeah, yes skin lightening products outside the US and tanning products inside the US and Europe. It is just so frustrating. So I say all of this to say that those ideals aren't going anywhere. The only way that we can get to a place a better body image place is by first seeing our bodies as instrumental. But honestly being able to overcome this pain by flipping it on its head, by seeing it for what it is, by one thing that Lindsay and I talk a lot about is this idea that for most girls and women in the world, we live in very uncomfortable comfort zones. So we live our lives feeling pretty yucky about our bodies, feeling defined by our parts, especially by the parts we think are the most embarrassing. So if you feel self-conscious of your tummy, you think about it a lot. You dress to flatter your stomach, you worry about it when you're working out and it's jiggling. You worry about it when you're growing a baby and then you think about what's gonna happen when I give birth to this baby and you think a lot about your stomach, you look at other people's stomachs, you compare yourself to them. That's just one of these ways that we feel so defined by our bodies. But instead, what if you thought about the pain you've experienced? I'll just focus this on stomachs, because that's what I was talking about. What if you saw that your shame about your stomach is not natural, it's not innate, that you have been taught to feel like you have to have a tiny waist and six-pack abs to feel okay to be normal. And otherwise, you believe that your stomach says a lot about you that it says you're lazy that it says you're not hardworking, that you eat too much, that you have no self-control, you know, these are these messages we get from our culture. What if instead, you look down at your stomach and you thought, my goodness, if you've had babies, you think I grew a baby inside this body, I got it out of me. What an incredible miracle. That would be this idea of seeing your body as more of an instrument than an ornament. What if you thought about if you saw the shame if you could shine a light on it and say this is not normal and natural? What if I could use this pain I've experienced in my body to help relate to other women, to help them understand that they are not alone in their pain. So instead, you use your pain as your purpose, that stomach that you used to feel so ashamed of. What if you owned it? What if you started speaking up online, telling people that you used to feel super ashamed of your body, of your stomach, of whatever the part is, and started to explain more about your own process of realizing that you never needed to feel this way, that it was profit-driven, that you have an important message to share and that you could just start, you know, getting out there and using your body. That's just one example of many, but I really believe that body image resilience is the only way we're going to be able to overcome our own pain. And it happens on an individual level, not a societal level.
Amber B 28:07
So I guess getting back to your question, I don't think we're ever going to get to a place where objectifying ideals are gone. I think they will always, in many ways, run our economy. There's just too much money spent on all of these flaws and their solutions and advertisers and industry leaders are coming up with new flaws every day.
Amber B 28:31
But I do think that on an individual level, we can see the shame and this pain for what it is and turn it on its head and use it. You know, for me, the body shame that I've always experienced is my reason for being. I'm now so grateful for it because it opened my eyes to this pain that so many other girls and women and boys and men experience and it's given me a reason for being, it's given me a mission to find solutions to problems that plague so many of us that keep us from living really happy, healthy, good lives. From being able to get outside of ourselves, we get so fixated on how we appear that we live our lives in a lot of shame and a lot of pain. And for me, body image resilience has been key. And I would assume the same goes for you. And for so many people listening, you've been able to harness your body as an amazing instrument. And I think that is so important here.
Amber B 29:27
Yeah. And I think I kind of want to move into this intersection between what you're talking about in the fitness industry because,
Amber B 29:34
Those are kind of our two worlds that we're bringing together and I think that there is a place to be able to talk about that intersection. And one of the things
Amber B 29:42
that keeps coming up for me and every time I hear this idea of you know, your body is an instrument not an ornament in the fitness industry is one of the big pushes that I have is getting more women lifting weights. And the biggest
Amber B 29:54
benefit that I see from a lot of women when they go from exercising in order to make their bodies smaller. To focusing on instead of the scale going down the weights on the bar going up and
Amber B 30:05
feel like how strong they can get and like going into the gym with really the goal is to like lift, lifted more weight and like see and push
Amber B 30:13
it, see how much you can do and accomplish. It's such a drastic change for so many women for whom going to the gym has always been about weight loss
Amber B 30:22
and when we can start to shift that, that dialogue and say, Hey! you know what, like, how cool is it that you can do a pull up like, that's amazing. And that's what your body can do
Amber B 30:31
have regardless of what you're like looking at when you look in the mirror.
Oh, it's the best. Oh my gosh, it in so many ways. Being able to focus on a fitness goal that has nothing to do with your measurements or the way your body appears, is going to be your key to happiness to help, to feeling more purposeful in your body. Because as you know, so many a ton of research backs this up. So many women quit their workout regimen, they quit working out altogether, or even just they wouldn't refer to it as working out. But like playing soccer outside with your kids, or going swimming or whatever the thing is, we quit when our bodies don't look like we hoped they would when we began because our goals
Amber B 31:18
for our bodies are ornamental.
Amber B 31:20
but you are exactly right. Then, think of this. I know so many of us have set goals that have to do with our weight or what size we're wearing. I know for me, when I've hit that goal, whether it was the jeans in the back of my closet or the weight on the scale, I have not felt that endorphin rush like I wanted. In my past when I hit the goal, I'd look down at the scale I'd see that I got there and maybe for a second it would give me the rush to see the number but I'd look at my body in the mirror and think oh, but I thought I would look different. I thought I would look more like this person that I know that I know weighs this much or that you know I wouldn't have this sagginess now or this cellulite. And so it doesn't feel good and you keep working toward an absolutely unattainable goal. But being able to set goals that have to do with what your body can do, that is a rush, that boosts your confidence in the most powerful way. I'm so with you. I love that.
Amber B 32:17
Yeah. And so, you know, in this intersection between fitness and the things that we're talking about, there's obviously the performance goals right, doing your first pull up getting your first,
Amber B 32:27
you know, deadlifting 135 on the bar, like all of these performance goals and I love what you're saying that when we start to set goals, that the goal has nothing to do with whether our body is changing, but then we stick with it because you're right,
Amber B 32:41
so many women start a fitness program. And when they you know, don't see those scale going, then they just get rid of the fitness program when there are so many more benefits to exercising and then
Amber B 32:50
just weight loss. So but my question is to you, is there ever a time that you would say that it can be appropriate to be able to set an aesthetic goal or is that something that you would say 100% of the time? Is it ever valuable for somebody?
I cannot, I mean that is such an individual question that I feel almost hesitant to answer because it really depends on the individual and how their body image is at the time,
Amber B 33:22
from my place as an expert in this particular realm of body image. And in my research, I can say that I hesitate to have somebody focus on an aesthetic goal.
Amber B 33:37
I say that because in my research and in the work we've done with tons of individual women, many of them have been involved in fitness through like physique competitions, bikini
Amber B 33:51
fitness competitions, things like that. And those are women who have often been hit the hardest with massive body image burdens that are really difficult to overcome. And maybe that's just one extreme. But I know that for those women, one of them is featured. Her words are featured in our book, she was winning bikini fitness competitions and by all regards from the outside, she looked like the picture of health. But she said that she was, she faced more body shame and more appearance fixation than at any other point in her life and she felt the worst about her body. And that makes sense. If you feel so defined by your body, it is incredibly hard to stay feeling good because people resort to extremes to change the look of their body to fit an aesthetic goal. So I'm not going to shame or blame anybody for what they do. Ever, ever, ever, I totally get it. I totally get the pressure that we all feel and the kind of hope we all feel about bodies but I will say that if you are chasing an aesthetic goal in the hopes of boosting your body image, I do not believe and research backs up that it will not work, it will not improve your feelings toward or your relationship with your body to meet an aesthetic goal. It might do something else for you in terms of boosting your confidence to meet a goal. But it won't fix your relationship with your body because that has to happen internally. Like, let's say your goal is to get like abs, like visible abs. If you get there, which is really difficult. That's not my goal. But I know that is some women's goal and it's an awesome goal. If you get there, you could boost your confidence in many ways and your ability to reach that goal. But it's gonna be a really hard goal to hang on to because you live in a human body. So that means that from then on, you might have to continue to be very, very strict around food. And a lot of food restriction leads to binging. All food restriction leads to binging basically. And I know that personally and from a research- level, so I would want you to be very careful about that about getting into a cycle of restricting and binging, which won't help you at all, I would want you if you're focusing on six-pack abs, to be very compassionate with yourself, that even when you reach that goal, that you need to remind yourself with love and compassion that you live inside a human body. And that human bodies change and that your body can get sick or injured. And you might not be able to maintain that appearance, that you might have a baby, that you might lose weight or gain weight for a million different reasons. And that when you lose the visible abs, it's okay. It's okay. So, with that caveat in mind, I would say yes, the individual can have whatever goals they want for their body. But to know that there are some risks to that, and to be very, very aware of your relationship with your body and your own self-compassion.
Amber B 37:06
All along the way.
Amber B 37:08
so good. And I think I want to go back to two things that you said during that that I really want to hit home and like to reiterate for people. The first is that I completely agree with women going to extremes and doing fitness competitions. It's one of the reasons I've said I will never do it, it's because I have such a great relationship with my body and I don't want to put that at risk. And I think
Amber B 37:30
when you do you go to those extremes, it does it for a lot of women, it takes women who are very confident and it puts them in a place where like all the focus is on their body and someone else judging their body.
Amber B 37:39
And it does not work for a lot of women. The second thing I really want to hit home with what you said that I think is so important for anybody listening, and I will say it again and again. I'm all about setting goals and you can set whatever goal it is that you want. But what Lexie said that when you hit that goal, it's not going to change the inside. And so many people reach for these goals and so many women that I work for, they have these ideas of like when I get to a size six, I'm gonna love my body and it just
Amber B 38:10
doesn't work that way. And I've had more women who have been able to reach their goals and they're like, you know what I thought I would like, you know, totally feel different at this weight or at this size. And it doesn't work that way. You cannot expect that getting to a certain weight, getting to a certain size, getting to like a certain physique is going to change how you feel about yourself. That work has to be done from the inside out.
Amen. Thank you, I love that. And if I could even share a personal example.
Amber B 38:36
Because I think this, it helps me not look like such a militant weirdo to people that might be listening. I promise I'm not, I'm just a regular person. I am 34, I have a newborn baby and a four-year-old. I have a wonderful husband and I am just like too lucky to have a wonderful relationship with him. And I am also the like the fattest I've ever been. And I'm the happiest I've ever been.
Amber B 39:07
And I want you to know that that is possible.
Amber B 39:11
It's possible for anyone, I want you to know that your worst fears about how you think somebody else sees you don't have to rule your life, I want you to know that even in your worst fears of gaining weight if you were to wake up tomorrow and weigh 30 pounds more, I truly want you to know that it is possible to be okay. And to even be happy to know that you are not defined by your body. And I say that coming from a place of a lot of privilege. The privilege that I just spoke about, the fact that I have a loving husband and a great relationship with him. Regardless of my weight or size, the fact that I have a job regardless of how I look, and in many ways, a job that helps reinforce that looks are the least important thing about you, which helps me, my own being, being able to keep a job. But I have a lot of privilege.
And so I want your listeners to think about the privilege they have in their own lives. I really want them to think about the fact that if they have these big fears around ageing, or gaining weight or sagging, you know, breast sagging, butt sagging, whatever the thing is, we all have these fears about what we look like and what other people think when they look at us and what our futures could look like. And I truly want people to know that it is possible to not feel defined by your body to the point that you can be happy regardless if you get injured and you have to sit on the sidelines for a while if you can't work out like you wanted to. If you gain weight, or lose weight or lose muscle or how to have an illness or whatever the thing is, I just I want you to know that it is possible to live your life outside of those fears of what you think other people think when they look at you, which for so many of us is the norm, the norm so much that we don't even know any other way of living. And I say that as somebody that still every single day, I think about what I look like. And I worry every single day there are fleeting worries of oh my gosh, I need to lose some weight or I've been in isolation for three weeks, I have not been able to eat the food that I used to eat.
Amber B 41:34
I don't have access to the same fresh food that I used to as often because I'm afraid to go to the store every other day and you know, things like that. I know a lot of us are feeling that way. But I want you to know that. I am saying this as somebody who's just a regular person, just like everybody else out there with maybe a little bit more education in this one particular topic, but it is truly possible to have hope that you can be okay regardless of how you look and if that means That you gain weight or you don't, you don't have the luxury of spending as much time working out as you want to or whatever or getting the procedures that you want to or whatever the thing is, I want you to know that it's not actually your worst nightmare that you can still live a happy life regardless,
Amber B 42:18
Yes, so good, freakin ‘meant that. Love it. Okay, there are two things that I want to talk about some actionable things that people can take away from this and start to apply to their journey.
Amber B 42:29
So one thing that I would like to close with an end with is how we can train and help and coach our daughters,
Amber B 42:37
As we're raising them, some action steps maybe that moms can be doing and the other thing is, how can we start to move towards that place of body resiliency, you know, what are some action items that listeners can start doing now to be able to move towards that? So I don't know which one of those I want to pick up first, but I want to make sure we cover both of them before we finish.
Okay, yeah. Let me give you some action items for how you can interact with your children.
Amber B 43:02
The first thing it involves is healing your own body image, which is a massive undertaking. But I want you to think back on your relationship to your body as a child, every single one of us, especially the women listening might not even be able to remember when they didn't feel so defined by their body or self-conscious of their body. But there was a time when you didn't when you knew you were more than a body. And I want you to think about what that felt like, or what that must have felt like to be able to play and run and swim and jump without worrying about how your body appeared. I want you to think about the freedom that that entailed. And I want you to, to realize, to know that you do have some control in making sure that your children do feel that freedom. Of course, there are outside forces, the kids at school, the kids' Moms, the kids, parents, your own mom, their Grandma, the TV shows they watch and listen to. But I want you to think about whatever you can do to help your child feel at home in their body. Free from shame, free from worrying about what they look like. What would that look like in your own home? For me? We do not talk about food as good or bad. I do not moralize food in my home. So treats are not bad. Sugar is not bad, the fruit is not good, vegetables are not good. It is all just-food. I try to help my four-year-old daughter think about how she feels when she eats certain food and that all food helps her grow big and strong. So we think about food in terms of colors a lot of times. I encouraged her to eat foods with lots of different colors in it. So she loves red peppers because they're red and red helps her grow big and strong. And she loves green peppers and she loves all different colors of fruit and vegetables because she wants to be big and strong like mom and so I highly encourage you to not moralize food to help your kids be the intuitive eaters that they were born being, that they eat until they are full, that they eat when they are hungry. And sure you can guide them toward choices that are going to help them feel better, that doesn't just feel fill them up with, you know, sugar, or a ton of starch. You can guide them in those ways. But I want you to think about how you might have felt shame when you were a kid around food. I know for me, I would come home from school and be really hungry. I just remember being starving, coming home from school. And sometimes I felt embarrassed about how hungry I was. And my parents were wonderful in every way. But they grew up dieting, and their parents did too. And I grew up dieting at a very young age. And that restriction of thinking some foods were bad and that I shouldn't be as hungry as I am or I shouldn't eat until this time and not eat after this time. That did not serve me, it didn't serve my health in any way. And it didn't serve my relationship to my body or my body image in any way. So think about what you can do differently for your babies to help them be more at home in their own body.
Something else that I think is important to keep in mind is to think about the ways you might be teaching your daughter that she is responsible for decorating herself and decorating the world. And what I mean by that is kind of what I alluded to earlier, that little girls grow up with lots of extras that boys don't have. The bows, the tights, the dresses that make it hard to, you know, climb around. I know watching my daughter when she was just little trying to climb up the stairs at church on Sunday, I realized, huh, she doesn't need to be in a dress. This dress is actually making it unsafe for her because she keeps almost falling down. So I realized that there, my baby doesn't always have to wear a dress that is just a cultural tradition, but it doesn't have to be. And so I started dressing her in pants sometimes when I knew she was restless, and that at church, she would want to be climbing up the stairs. I also, just kind of intuitively, I knew that I always hated headbands growing up, they gave me a headache. So I never had either of my daughters wear those bows or headbands on their heads because I thought it would make them uncomfortable. And a lot of times those headbands fall down and cover their eyes and scare them and I wanted none of that for her. So I have tried to think about the ways that I would want my daughter to feel more at home in her body by not feeling like she has to decorate it so much. So we, little things like I haven't pierced her ears because like, I don't want her to feel that pain and I don't want them to poke the back of her head and you know all the things. So think about those kinds of things. It's not bad. If you love to dress up your baby, that's not a bad thing. But maybe don't make it such a regular thing because she deserves to be able to feel really comfortable too. I have dressed my daughter in clothing that kind of seems more gender-neutral, like jeans that come from the boys' section that actually have pockets because the girls don't have pockets on their jeans, they have more reinforced knees, so we don't get so many holes in the knees. Just clothing that's a little bit more utilitarian. A few recommendations there. And then for your questions
Amber B 48:34
about body image resilience, and some things you can work on right now. One of the things the big thing that we talked about is focusing on using your body as an instrument, not an ornament, if you can, I mean, I can give a plug but I don't even need to we sell these mantras that these mirror mantras these decals, but you can say that my body is an instrument not an ornament and we've got it on T-shirt. But you can write it on a sticky note or write it on your mirror in lipstick or a marker. Do whatever you need to do every time you feel your mind slipping to how you appear. Instead of being at home in your body, at feeling and doing and experiencing your body as your own. I want you to repeat to yourself, my body is an instrument, not an ornament, and then use that kind of reframe some of your experiences. In our research, there was the shining ray of light. There was this small population, it was a little bit more than 10% of the women we studied, who were body image resilient, they were able to feel okay about their bodies, regardless of how they looked, regardless of the ideals they did or did not fit. And when we dug into those women, the reason they felt good about themselves is that they had been through really difficult things in their bodies. And they had come out the other side. They had been able to use those things, not as like a question Or a burden they carried around behind them, but as kind of a stepping stone, as a platform to help them be more in their lives. So a couple of examples of that. A lot of them were women who had struggled with disordered eating or eating disorders, which I would argue most of us do. Most of us are in a cycle of restricting and binging or otherwise like in full-blown disordered eating through bulimia or anorexia.
A lot of women had come through the other side by being able to actually see their pain, see what they were going through and get help. Inpatient or outpatient treatment is basically the only way it's very hard to recover from an eating disorder on your own. But they were able to get through the other side and see that maybe they had been through this very difficult thing so that they could serve the world better, so that when they had daughters who were experiencing the same things they could guide them down a better path so that they could have opportunities to volunteer to help girls and women overcome these things, to blog and vlog and do podcasts and make art and music and things that could aid other people in healing. As they healed themselves. There was another woman who said, When I was young, I was sexually abused. And for a lot of time, I carried that around with me as an excuse to treat myself terribly, engaging in self harm in staying in unhealthy relationships, because she didn't feel worthy of actually being in a happy relationship. She felt like her body had been used as a weapon against her and so she hated her body. I know that as I speak, there are lots of women listening who have experienced that same thing. What a terrible, terrible experience that nobody deserves to go through or feel.
But body image resilience can give you the opportunity to reframe your experiences and your pain. You can change the way you react to that pain, whether it happened 50 years ago, or a few days ago, you can say, I never would have chosen this for myself and I don't deserve it. But maybe this thing is pushing me, propelling me down a life path that I never would have chosen for myself, but that can benefit me and benefit the world. This woman who wrote to us said that she was able to reframe her experience of sexual assault as an opportunity because, in college, she started volunteering for an organization that served victims of sexual abuse and assault. And she was able to volunteer and realize that she could empathize with these women and understand them in a way that was healing to her as she helped heal them. She said that helped her reframe this thing that maybe it gave her more capacity, to be strong, to be resilient in the future, to see herself as more, more than a body to be used and abused and evaluated and cast aside, to make sure that from there on out she was more. And that's just one example of so many of the ways that we can reframe our experiences to serve us, instead of kind of hurt us and let us wallow in self-objectification and shame. I know we all have those experiences I want to echo again that I am grateful for my own body shame. It has propelled me down a path that has helped me see the value of every single one of us. Because of my pain. I can see that every single one of us has important work to do. We have experiences that can serve us and help us serve the world. I know that every single person listening to this podcast is really important and has really important work to do that only they can do, that only you can do. And maybe your pain is pointing you toward that path to more people that you can help and serve, to more ways that you can experience your own body as your home, which you deserve to feel. It's not there for anybody else. It's yours. And I hope that my words give a little bit of hope to people who have felt defined by their body in one way or another.
Amber B 54:27
That's so good. Lexie, everything that you're saying. I'm just sitting over here, just Yes, yes, yes, yes. And I think you and your sister have such an important message that needs to get out to be shared with more people. So I know they're gonna people, people who are like, I want to get on this train. I want to get help. I want them to help me. What are some ways that people can find you, connect with you and when they're ready to take that next step? Or if they're wanting to take that next step, even work with some of the programs that you guys have?
Thank you for asking. Our website is beautyredefined.org, our Instagram is beauty_redefined. We're on Facebook as Beauty Redefined. We have a following of really amazing people who are taking this message and spreading it to the world which we want so desperately. We feel like this is just the beginning for us and for this message for the world. We would love your help in spreading it. We offer an online course, it's the culmination of all of our doctoral research. It's a lot of the stuff I talked about here. And it can help you get to body image resilience and manageable steps. You can find that on our website as well. We also offer this opportunity for therapists and registered dieticians, anybody who works with a clientele that is certified to be able to run our online course on their own with their own clientele in a group or individual settings. So if you are a therapist or a dietician, you can also go to beauty redefined org to find more information on that.
Amber B 56:03
Awsome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much, Lexi for coming on and sharing with my audience and giving them a light and giving them things that they can do right now to be working towards this place of body resiliency. How amazing will it be when we can get more women
Amber B 56:20
onboard with this working on it, like you said that this starts from an individual level.
Amber B 56:24
And the individual as we change, we change our family tree, we change our
Amber B 56:28
children, we change our communities, and that is how we're going to be able to make progress.
Amber B 56:32
So thank you so
Yeah, thank you
Amber B 56:34
Amber B 56:35
Holy moly, wasn't that an amazing episode? I just could sit and listen to Lexie talk all day. She just articulates such important points in just such succinct ways. And her and her sister are making a difference in the world. And I think that their perspective is so important and so important to be able to share and so I'm so happy that Lexi was willing to come on the podcast and be able to talk about some of these things with us and to be able to help give us some tips to be able to get better and to progress and to get to that place like she talked about of body resiliency. And I think it is a goal that can be one that can really change your life. And as you move towards that place of like she said, you know, body neutrality to then place a body resiliency, how much power comes from, from that space, and from being able to find meaning in the experiences that you've had, I really think that's what it comes down to is when we're able to find meaning and what we've experienced, we're able to use it for good and to be able to grow and to continue to uplift others over time. And I just hope that as you left this episode that you felt like there's a light and that there's hope and that there is a possibility for you to be able to get to the place where you are not thinking about your body 24 seven and that you can use that energy That you have been using on hating your body and thinking about your body and monitoring your body to a place of being able to look at your body as something that is able to do things for the world. It's able to go out and make choices and make a change and find vaccines and lift heavy weights and it's something that allows you to do and live and not just something to be looked at. And I think hopefully that as a huge takeaway, that your body is an instrument, not an ornament and that you are so much more than just the body that you know you are housed in. And that's such an important thing to remember. That wraps up this episode of biceps after babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend you can do anything.
Hold up, sister friend. Do you love Biceps after Babies radio? If so, the best way to say thank you is to subscribe to the podcast and leave a review on iTunes. I know, every podcaster wants you to leave a review, but it's because those reviews help the podcast to reach more people. And I do truly want to know what you think. If this particular episode resonated with you, will you also please share it? Either send the link to someone who would find it valuable or take a screenshot and post it to your social media and tell your friends and family why they should listen. Make sure you tag me @biceps.after.babies so I can hear your feedback and give you a little love. And you know, if you aren't already following me on Instagram or Facebook, that's the perfect time to hit that follow button. Thank you for being here and listening to Biceps after Babies radio.