Lindsay and Lexie Kite both have their Ph.D.’s from the University of Utah and are the founders of the nonprofit organization Beauty Redefined. Beauty Redefined focuses on promoting healthy body image and rejecting media beauty ideals. Lexie did this interview but Lindsay says ditto to everything – oh yeah, did we mention they are identical twins?
Her Campus (HC): Is Beauty Redefined your full-time job?
Lexie Kite (LC): Lindsay and I both have our Ph.D.s, and we both work other jobs right now to pay bills for Beauty Redefined -- just to keep it sustainable for now.
HC: What does the future of Beauty Redefined look like?
LK: We have just debuted several speaking tours for universities across the country. One of our amazing interns booked us a speaking tour for Harvard. We are booking for Salt Lake right now, and we are just going to see how many we can do. Booking is one of our main sources of income to keep us afloat. I feel the most powerful way to get our point across is in person, through speaking events. It has been so great. We have been speaking for five years now, and it's wonderful because there has been no negative feedback -- everyone is so positive about it. Our visual presentation came about through our master's degree, and then we have added four years of our Ph.D. research to it; but even now, it is constantly being updated. We feel really happy with where it is at.
Part of our tour is going to go towards eating disorder clinics and health conferences to get the word out that way. We are also going to write a book this year -- it will help us on our speaking tour.
We have started debuting curriculum that was part of our Ph.D. research. We both did different dissertations for our research, and they are both, like, 300 pages each, but the studies turned out really well. Mine is all about resilience from self-objectification, and Lindsay’s is all about how to get back to physical health instead of these unattainable beauty ideals. This curriculum is online, and it's $100, and it’s for people that want to start a beauty redefined club or group, and they get a 40 page PDF. It's a way to run your own group as a leader.
HC: Did you both always know you wanted a Ph.D.?
HC: What inspired you?
LK: When I started my freshman year at USU, I wanted to be a journalist. I started out in broadcasting and quickly switched over to print because you get to tell your own stories a little bit more. That first semester, Lindsay and I took this media literacy class that all journalists have to take. That was all about how women are represented in the media, and that was when I decided, "I have to get a degree in this somehow!" We decided to get a master's degree in this. Lindsay and I were trying to go separate routes but somehow both knew we wanted to get masters. We told each other we weren’t going to discuss where we were going to go to school. We just felt we needed to take a break from each other.
HC: So what advice do you have about education?
LK: If you have good desires -- desires to do good things in the world in someway -- I have no doubt that the universe just opens its doors to let you do it! I know that is true! So when you find that something that makes your heart pound and gives you that adrenaline rush ... When I felt that truth of what I was learning when I was 18 in that classroom, I knew I had to do something. I absolutely felt called and Lindsay did, too. It was a very twin-like experience that I will never forget. It really did shape the course of our lives. We have just been absolutely humbled by the amazing people that have wanted to help and propel our message forward ... I know that if you have goals to do good and contribute in some way, do it -- the universe opens its doors to allow it to happen. I have seen this happen to too many great women to not believe this.
HC: How does Beauty Redefined relate to college-age girls?
LK: [Through] a lot of my research about self-objectification, I have come to realize that we are just obsessed with our bodies and how we look at all times. My research is all about how to break free from that. College-age women are met with this self-objectification like nobody else. Media targets us: we are always on our phones while we are looking at other screens and listening to music, and most of that media is focused on driving a profit, and the profit comes from women spending their money and feeling insecure. We don't succeed at what we want because our looks get in the way. We become too self-conscious about how we look to worry about what we are doing. We don't get into math science and engineering because we feel conscious; we are girls. The most important thing for college-age women is to recognize that they are more than bodies, and when they get that, [that] is when opportunities open up. Confidence from within is when the world will change.
I know many girls, including myself, that has stayed home for bad hair day and pimples. When you break free, your life will be so much more fulfilling, and everything changes.
Can I offer a challenge? Do a media fast – avoid all media for at least three days. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, TV, Netflix, magazines -- even advertising, if you can -- everything! It will give your mind the opportunity to become more sensitive to the messages that don’t look look or feel like the truths you experience in real life, face to face, with real fit people and your own health choices. Without those messages, you can see how your life is different and how your feelings toward your own body are affected. When you return to viewing and reading popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you, that hurt your self-perception and those that are unrealistic for you.