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Building Body Image Resilience with Lexie Kite of Beauty Redefined

“You are more than a body. It seems like such a trite phrase, but it is completely life-changing when you live it.”

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Odds are you already know and love Beauty Redefined co-founder Lexie Kite, Ph.D.! Lexie and her twin sister Lindsay created their nonprofit Beauty Redefined on the premise that positive body image isn’t believing your body looks good, it’s knowing your body is good, regardless of how it looks. Lexie joins Chatbooks co-founder Vanessa Quigley for a raw and real conversation about body image and how to model healthy habits for your kids.

Growing up as twins, Lindsay and Lexie faced constant comparisons about their appearances from friends and strangers alike. As the years went by, they both became more and more critical of their bodies. They gave up their shared passion for competitive swimming so that they would no longer be seen in public wearing swimsuits. After years of complicated relationships with their bodies, they began to study female body image. The sisters soon realized they had found their new shared passion. They both received doctorate degrees in the study of female body image and co-wrote their book, More Than a Body. They are the leading experts when it comes to body image resilience.

Read on for some of Lexie’s quotes from her interview on The MomForce Podcast...

How can parents help build body image resilience in their kids?

You need to be super vulnerable with them. I get it, I have a five year old daughter and an 18 month old daughter and I'm so far so good, but I know that despite having a mom who is an expert in body image, I'm going to have a girl that faces issues because I do too — none of us are immune to this. We all are in human female bodies. So this is the name of the game for us. We're all experiencing objectification from every angle, even from people who love us, even from our moms, our grandmas. People who love us have internalized it so greatly.

Why is it important for us to teach our kids how to be media literate?

If we teach kids to be critical about the messages they see in the media, their eyes are open to the way people talk about bodies, the way their friends talk about bodies, and their own bodies in a way that will serve them for their whole lives. It is so important for us to arm girls with the critical capacity they need to rebel against messages that they know in their guts are wrong or that hurt them or that prioritize a male perspective on their bodies.

What guidelines do you use when you are dressing your two daughters?

I try to do a few different things. First, prioritize practicality over pretty to help your daughter see herself as an instrument, not an ornament. The more you ask her how she feels in her clothing, the more she learns to prioritize how she feels over how she looks. If she chooses to wear the pretty frilly things, don't police her about getting dirty in the thing. You’ve got to let her move, but make sure that she's safe.

Do you ever feel like you're fighting a losing battle in helping women try to build a better body image?

No, and I bet that is a surprising answer. Lindsay and I have been steeped in this work for 15 years and you'd think that we would just be so disgusted by the sexism that is rife in our culture, that we wouldn't even know how to go on. We hear the most painful stories. People just unload, in our DMS and moments on the street, and yet we are more hopeful than we've ever been. It's all because the focus of our work is this idea of body image resilience. It is a revolution we need so desperately because it takes that pain we all have felt and allows us to see it, to name it and to have a vocabulary for it.

Having body image resilience is the same as working a muscle every single day. It never stops. What is your advice for daily practices?

Tell yourself: I will not cope in the ways that haven't served me before. I will not diet my life away so I am qualified to be seen. I will not get that procedure that I feel like I have to do, because shame is driving me to it. Nope. Prove to yourself that you are amazing and deserve to live life as you are right now.

Listen to the full MomForce Podcast episode for more of Lexie’s expert advice! Follow Lexie and Lindsay @beauty_redefined , watch Lindsay’s Ted Talk and buy More Than a Body to learn all there is to know about body image resilience.

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