Body Image

I’ve seen numbers that say over 90% of women are unhappy with their bodies. Our body image, or the way we perceive our own bodies, is impacted by family, friends, social media, the news, and more. Many of us entered motherhood with pre-existing body image challenges, and pregnancy and motherhood can exacerbate that. Today I’m joined by Dr. Lexie Kite from Beauty Redefined, and we are chatting about changing the way women view their bodies. 

Links to Connect with Lexie + Lindsay

More than a Body

Beauty Redefined on Instagram

I've seen numbers that say over 90% of women are unhappy with their bodies, our body image, or the way that we perceive our own bodies is impacted by among others, family, friends, social media, the news, many of us entered into motherhood with pre-existing body image, challenges and pregnancy, and motherhood can sometimes exacerbate them today. I'm joined by Dr. Lexi from Beauty Redefined. We're chatting all about changing the way that women view their bodies. I'm so happy to have you here. Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my PhD in child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

Hi there. I want to start by thanking our sponsor for today. Prep Dish, Prep Dish is a meal planning service, and it's one that we have loved in our family for many years now, each week. Great to your inbox, you get sent a choice of menu. My favorite is the super fast menu because it's just about as simple as it gets. So when I pull up my super fast menu, each week, I get three parts. One is the grocery list. The second is the prep day list. And the third is the dish day list. I get my groceries then set aside some time to do the prep work that makes it so easy to put the finishing touches on each meal, right before dinner. On the day I'm serving the dish. I'm more thankful than ever for Prep Dish right now, because as the weather has turned, it's getting warmer every day after school.

My kids want me to take them right outside and it definitely cuts into my cooking time. So I need something fast and easy. If you haven't tried Prep Dish, I encourage you to check it out. Go to to try two weeks free again, go to to try out two weeks free back to today's episode. I'm so happy to be joined by Dr. Lexi Kite, she and her sister, Dr. Lindsay Kite are the founders of Beauty Redefined. They are also the authors of the new book, More Than A Body Lexie and Lindsay are experts in the work of body image resilience. And we're going to talk more about what that means today. In this episode, we're going to talk about body image and motherhood and teaching our own kids, how to view their bodies differently. I'll put the links to Lexie and Lindsay's work in the show notes as always. Thanks for tuning in. And I hope you enjoy my conversation with Lexie.

Denaye Barahona: Hi Lexie. Thanks for me today.

Lexie: I am happy to be here.

Denaye Barahona: So I have been following you and your sister Lindsay on Instagram for some time. And I love your page Beauty Redefined. I will say though, that there have been some things that I read on there that I didn't feel like I fully could wrap my head around until, until I read the book.

You're both more than a body

And the, the idea of objectification, I guess what's the one thing that it just, I felt like I couldn't quite grasp it. And do you hear that from people that it's a hard concept to really understand?

Lexie: Yeah. I mean, because it's so prevalent, it's basically invisible. So it is hard to wrap your head around. I get that.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And that's how I felt when I was reading the book. I was like, Oh, the reason that I have a hard time understanding this is because it's all that I know.

Lexie: Yes, yes, totally.

Denaye Barahona: So I think it's, it's very eye opening to think about body image through this new lens that you and Lindsay have really started to bring to the world. And tell us first, a little bit about how you got started in all of this and just more about you and your sister.

Lexie: Yeah, absolutely. So we are identical twins and growing up, we didn't want to be such twins. We wanted to be different. It clearly didn't work out that way. We've been running our nonprofit and all of our activism together for many, many years now. Um, but growing up, I mean, Lindsay and I were, we were competitive swimmers. We, we played sports. We were, we were really confident in our abilities. We had friends and we're, you know, we, we had happy fulfilling lives and yet the whole time we were growing up, we felt incredibly defined by our bodies. And, you know, that came from a million places that came from the way our family talked about bodies, their own bodies and other peoples that came from the TV shows we watched in the teen magazines we subscribed to, and, you know, the way our friends talked about their bodies and on and on and on, and we didn't really have a name for what we were experiencing until we got to college and we both wanted to be journalists.

Lexie: Um, but we didn't want to be taking the same classes. So we took different sections of the same courses, um, our freshman year of college. And I remember sitting in a class called media smarts. It was all about media literacy. Like the way to understand why media is created, the way it is and how it impacts our lives, especially in regards to gender. Um, and I remember sitting there that first day, just hearing the most brief overview of how women's bodies have been co-opted by industries that make a lot of money by telling us we're wrong. And my heart pounded faster. I had what I would consider kind of a spiritual experience in that classroom where I felt really seen. I felt like I finally understood that the way I felt wasn't just natural. It wasn't just what was required of being female. Um, it was, it was painful and it was brainwashing on purpose.

Lexie: And I went home to our shared dorm room and I told Lindsay about this class and how I just, Oh, I felt like it was so amazing. And I wanted to learn everything I could. And she said, shut up. I had the exact same experience today. Um, and that was kind of this bonding moment for Lindsay and I, where we'd always been so competitive. And instead we could kind of, um, embrace this shared passion we had. And we, we went to college together for 10 years to get our bachelors, masters and PhDs and the study of body image. Um, and we founded our nonprofit Beauty Redefined and for the last 10 years or so, we've been, um, speaking across the country at big events for universities and, um, treatment centers and conferences and the works and have been doing a lot of work online to try to get this message out that women are more than bodies and that when we can lay this foundation of really understanding ourselves and other women, as more than, you know, parts to be fixed, to be looked at, to be evaluated, to be cast aside, but that lays the foundation for us to be more, more than what we've been taught.

Lexie: We are, we think about all the time girls and women have wasted in their lives, in the pursuit of happiness and health and love and desirability and popularity. Um, that that really has been wasted because fixing the outsides of our bodies is never going to fix the internal shame we experience. So Lindsay and I are doing our absolute best to help people see themselves as more.

Denaye Barahona: Thank you for that. That is, it's an amazing mission. And one that definitely deeply resonates with me and I, when I was reading the first chapter of your book, I paused it. And I started to think about this idea of, was there ever a time before women were objectified? Do you think that there was, I was thinking back to like women and paintings?

Lexie: Um, no, I don't think there was. I mean, based on what I know of, you know, when, when you envision women in classic paintings, they are usually nude and the men are closed. You know, that is one sign at the fact that objectification was a normal part of their culture that, um, women's bodies have always symbolized sex and sexual appeal and, um, men just get to be, you know, women are kind of the other and men are the norm. Um, so I, I don't think that objectification, um, has ever not been present at least when depictions of women were mediated, you know, because objectification comes in like the representation of women, a lot of, so, I mean, it's a good question. And I guess maybe my pessimistic answer is that no, but I think that it has become absolutely the wallpaper of our lives, um, during, you know, probably since about the 50's or so the 40's when we have seen more representations of women in media that has formed, you know, what it means to be a woman, what we all picture when we think about somebody who is beautiful and desirable, and yet those ideals change, you know, um, right now big butts are in and that wasn't always a thing as, you know, growing up.

Lexie: Um, so the ideals change, but I think that objectification has been around.

Denaye Barahona: So explain to us a little bit more about objectification and what it is for anyone who might still be having a hard time wrapping their head around it. Oh yeah.

Lexie: So the root word here is object. So objectification is, um, anything that depict somebody or, um, kind of creates this idea around a person as an object of consumption, um, which can be like visual consumption or sexual consumption or whatever the thing might be. Um, objectification takes place all around us. I'll give you some examples. Um, driving down the freeway, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah, which forbes has ranked as one of the vainest cities in the nation because of how many plastic surgeons we have per capita and how much we spend on beauty products and procedures. Um, which is very interesting. But if you drive down the freeways in Salt Lake City, you will see billboard after billboard of women's bodies with their heads cut off, or just women's heads talking about how they have baggy eyelids and this cosmetic surgeon can fix it.

Lexie: And this lab will be able to give you pool sculpting on your lunch break, and you can make your lemons into lemonade, talking about breasts and on and on and on. Um, this might be particular to the freeways of Utah in a way that it isn't quite as bad in other places, but, you know, just seeing these billboards that are literally cutting women into parts, but it also happens. It happens consistently. It happens on your favorite TV shows that are even geared toward women. When you see the camera tilt up and down a woman's body and zoom in on her parts where we have literally been taught to see ourselves and other women through a heterosexual male gaze, because the camera does that for us, it happens in kids, movies and cartoons where girls and women characters are consistently sexualized and objectified. I was just watching a show with my daughter with, I don't even remember what it was.

Lexie: Some, you know, animated movie with penguins and it was all male characters. Um, objectification also happens in the sheer lack of representation of women that do anything outside of decorate the scene. So the movie is just filled with male characters and what a female character, a female penguin comes on the scene. She is shaped differently. She is hourglass shaped because women represent sex in a way men's bodies don't and her hips are swinging and the male characters are gazing up and down her body. And the music is that, Ooh, LA LA you know, kind of music. And you know, this is in the year 2020, it was, or so it was made in the last few years, but this is so consistent that it's all we see objectification literally encourages us and teaches us, including young girls and young boys that girls are parts to be looked at evaluated, judge fixed and cast aside if we don't fit the current ideals.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned you notice the objectification very strongly in salt Lake city. I used to live in Dallas and I, and now I live in New York and I notice a very distinct difference in culture around this. And I always, I kind of would joke with my husband and whenever I would be at the grocery store and pick up an issue of D magazine, which is like the magazine, and I'm not kidding you like every other page was an ad. It was plastic surgery, divorce, plastic surgery, divorce. The whole magazine was just filled with ads about these topics. And it just, I only lived in Dallas for five years. I loved my time in Dallas. Don't get me wrong. Um, but I noticed it because it wasn't a culture that I grew up in. So it really stood out to me. And I don't notice that now, um, where I live,

Lexie: I can speak to that a little bit. Um, that's something that we don't dive into in particular, in the ways that we could. Um, but in conservative cultures, in cultures where women are less likely to have full-time work, where women are more likely to stay home and raise kids, sometimes those women are not able to gain power in the ways that women do in less conservative cultures. Um, in Utah, uh, in particular here in Salt Lake City, um, and the surrounding area, we have the highest percentage of young moms in the nation. So moms have babies a lot younger here than elsewhere. Um, and they have more babies. They also, um, the rates of, uh, getting a degree are lower here for women than they are for men. Um, we do have an educated population, but women aren't getting their degrees as often as men because they're dropping out of school when they have babies.

Lexie: Um, and we also have a population that has more money than the average in the United States. It might be similar for places like Dallas. It is similar for other kind of more conservative, um, even metropolitan areas. But what we see is that when women aren't able to gain power and purpose from careers or from volunteer activities or leadership, that they will seek to gain that power through their beauty and their bodies. And I find that to be a really, really sad, um, kind of effect of what objectification does for women. We are sold the lie that our power comes from our bodies and the way we appear. And some women do receive more power for fitting certain ideals, but that is fleeting. That power can be taken from you as freely as it is given, because it is not internal to you. That is somebody granting you that power based on the way you appear.

Lexie: I mean, one thing we talk about in the book and is very central to our work in media literacy is the fact that most women don't know how much power they have over spending in their household. Like you don't really consider it, but, um, the average woman in the U S controls up to, uh, almost 90% of the dollar spent in that household and media makers and industry leaders. They know this, they know that maybe the woman isn't making the most money in the household, but she is in control of spending it. And so from the time girls are very little, we are bombarded with messages about how our value and our health and our happiness and success are determined by how we look. And so we give girls dress up kits and makeup kits and little high heels. And we talked to them about how pretty they are and, and their bow. And give me a twirl, let me see you in that dress. And it goes on and on until our grandmas are still worried about their wrinkles in their nineties and still counting their calories or their carbs, still trying to control themselves based on how they appear, because that's what we've been sold.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. I remember I was probably, I'm trying to think back to my earliest, my earliest memory of when I felt like my body wasn't good enough. And I have a very distinct memory. I had a pair of, was it eighties? And I had a pair of bike shorts. I can't remember specifically what they look like. And I remember thinking that my thighs looked big and them, and I couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old.

Lexie: I have the same memory, bike shorts, eight years old, kneeling in a little reading group in whatever grade that is second grade looking down at my thighs and thinking that my thighs kneeling were so much bigger than the other girls and wondering what was wrong with them.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think that comparison, it's just amazing how it starts so early. I mean, I have always been thin. I've never been, I mean, aside from being pregnant, I've never been larger than a size four or six, but when I was in high school and in elementary school, my friends were like zeros. They were tiny. So no matter how, no matter how healthy I was, no matter how small I was, I never felt small enough.

Lexie: Oh, totally. That comparison game. I mean, we've been set up from the beginning. The girls are set up to believe that we're in competition for limited resources, that aren't actually limited. You know, we're talking about things like love and, and success and happiness. Those aren't limited. But when we are pitted each other in a, you know, who wore it better kind of culture or a competing for this guy kind of culture. Yeah, of course we all feel that way. It's completely inevitable, but we are constantly comparing ourselves and that's normal. That's okay. You know, people listening are going to say, yeah, that's what I do. And it's, it's gutting. It's gutting to think, I don't want to go to that family party because I know my sister-in-law's going to be there. And she just lost a bunch of weight or she just thought her breasts done or whatever the thing is.

Lexie: And it makes you feel bad and not want to go like these are normal occurrences and the work that Lindsay and I try to do here, if I could transition to, um, our work and body image resilience, because I think it is the key here is that yes, we live in a world where we are constantly triggered in regard to our body image. You know, whether it is something like seeing a photo of yourself, you don't like, or gaining weight or losing weight and things get saggy or seeing your aging skin, whatever the thing is, we are constantly disrupted, um, in terms of our body image. And a lot of people try to fix women's body image problems by reinforcing how beautiful they are. You know, the messages that you are beautiful, just the way you are. If you had any idea how beautiful you were flaws and all you would have the confidence to just get out there and change the world and the work Lindsay and I do, um, is very focused on the fact that if you are recentering the narrative around beauty and bodies, we are not getting anywhere.

Lexie: You are not solving the problem. You might slap a band aid on it for a minute, but you will go back out into the world or scroll on your phone or watch yourself in a zoom meeting and be immediately taken back and trigger it again, feeling defined by your body because of that shame and self comparison. And the work Lindsay and I do is in body image resilience, which feels like, and we really believe is the light at the end of this body shame, tunnel, body image resilience is the ability to, to really call out and feel every time that shame rises up every time you feel yourself, monitored yourself from the outside, instead of living inside your miraculous body, you know, every time that self comparison causes that yucky feeling, you feel in your chest, we want you to feel it not just to swallow it, not just to make it part of your, this is what it takes to be a woman.

Lexie: Or this is just who I am. I'm always going to feel this way, but instead to really name it and call it out. And every time that feeling rises up again, and it will, no matter how far along you are in your body image life-long journey. We want you to take that little pain as an opportunity to respond in a new way. So, you know, as an example, a couple of days ago, I put on jeans for the first time and, Oh, it's been a long time between a pandemic and having a baby. I haven't had to wear jeans in a long time, which has been a real gift by the way. But I imagined,

Lexie: But I put on some jeans thinking I was doing a conference this weekend just virtually, but I thought maybe I'll dress up, you know, not just wear sweats on the bottom and a nice shirt on top, put on the jeans. And they were tight, like much tighter than I ever thought they would be. And all of a sudden I was taken back to these feelings I used to have where I felt like I needed to make a plan like, Oh my gosh, I feel disgusting. I feel shame about how I appear. Um, and I need to do something about this. So, uh, you know, I was thinking about like dieting and these thoughts that will always come up. Um, but they float away a lot quicker now. And all of a sudden, I remember thinking, no, this is an opportunity. It's okay. Like my body has gotten me through some stuff in the last year or more.

Lexie: I'm grateful that I'm healthy. My body is working, I'm working out. I can move freely. And I took it as an opportunity to cope in a new way. So instead of going to my usual go-to mechanisms for coping, with my shame, I decided to practice some gratitude for my body and some compassion for where I'm at. That's so many of us are in right now. It's just one example of many, but I want people to know that there is a way out of these constant feelings of fixation on how you appear. And there is a way to help our kids do the same thing, but it starts with our own healing. We can't get there any other way.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And I think it's, sometimes it can feel easier to fix the stuff on the outside than the inside. I find that with decluttering, like people like decluttering, my house was easy compared to decluttering my brain. Like it's like, yeah, sure. I'll get rid of some stuff, but then I've got the stuff in my mind and that's a lot harder to let go of that stuff on the outside.

Lexie: Yeah, you're totally right. Like that. I mean, of course it's a coping mechanism. We go to, by trying to control the outsides of our bodies, because why wouldn't we we've been told from every message, our entire lives from our culture and our media and the people we love. And the doctors, we respect that if we change the outsides of our bodies, everything else will fall in line and it's not true. And that is a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: And I, I, I do feel like I've made a lot of progress in the way of body image and the size of my body, but I'm 37 now. And I feel like the next sort of battle I'm going to be fighting is aging. And where does this, how does aging fit into this?

Lexie: Oh, it fits right in I'm 35. I totally get it. Um, we are all aging and yet aging has been absolutely villainized for women in a way that it hasn't for men, we're talking multi billion dollar a year anti-aging industry. That specifically targets women. I want people to start out with anger here and think about this. Think about the fact that you don't know many men who are nervous about the wrinkles on their forehead or the size of their pores, or know whatever this aging thing might be, because men are, are glamorized. When they get older, their silver foxes, they keep their jobs, they get new jobs, you know, in acting in broadcast news, in everything you can think of, um, men are men get to age. We give that to them. We give them their humanity. And yet women from every angle from the time we are so young, we are sold the lie that youth is what gives us our power.

Lexie: Um, that youth is what you know, gives us love in so many ways. It all comes down to our feelings of wanting to be loved and, and desired. So I want people to start out with anger and we write about this in the book. Um, in a part that I think is really powerful, where we talk about the fact that it can feel so maddening and awful to realize how much of your life has been impacted by objectification and how you have come to self objectify. Um, that means that you, you live your life, monitoring your body from the outside, instead of living in your own miraculous body, you perceive yourself. You think about what other people are thinking when they look at you, you, you think about your worst fears of what they might be thinking when they look at you, even the dude you're walking past on the street, that you do not care about.

Lexie: You picture how you look to him, you adjust your clothing accordingly. Like these are things we do. This is what women do is self objectify. So I want you to start out realizing that the anger you might be feeling about how much of your life has been spent in this state is okay. It's okay to feel that anger because that anger is the thing that will bring you back to yourself. Every time, every time you, you feel yourself, slip away to picture yourself from the outside or to compare yourself to somebody else that anger is good. Like we can use it. I'm definitely using it as long as you don't let it overtake you. But I think in terms of aging, um, everybody asks Lindsay and I, this question, where do you draw the line? Like when it comes to beauty? Um, because Lindsay and I, we both, we wear makeup.

Lexie: We, you know, we shave our legs. Like occasionally not as much anymore, not this year, but we like clothing. You know, we like fashion. Um, just like anybody else. And people ask us this question a lot. And the answer for me is that it really depends on you and I am not here to shame or blame anybody for what they do in the name of beauty, in the name of the pressures we all face, which are very real. I get it more than anybody, but I do want people to recognize that it is very empowering to take some inventory of what you do in the name of beauty work, the kind of work that we don't require of men, but for women, we have to spend a lot of time and energy and pain devoted to. I want you to consider what you do and what you might be able to pull back on what you might be able to cut out of your life to prove to yourself that you are still you.

Lexie: I did this with mascara during the pandemic. Um, before the pandemic, I didn't go a day without mascara. Probably I wore it to work every day. I felt like Lexie with mascara. And I felt like a lesser version of me without it. And during the pandemic, I proved to myself that I was still me. And it really proved to me that I was, I was wearing mascara in the name of shame. It was shame. That was propelling me. And so if you're doing something because of shame, I want you to know that you can prove to yourself that you're still you. And even if somebody says, Oh, are you feeling okay? Because you might look sick. That is a great opportunity to say, yeah, I'm feeling great. I'm actually just not wearing mascara because this is what female eyes look like without mascara. You're just not used to it.

Lexie: And just kind of laugh it off. You know, there are opportunities for me. Um, I've chosen to draw the line at anything painful, um, especially because of my platform and the work Lindsay. And I do, we, we want to represent what we stand for and for us, um, I'm never gonna get, you know, like injections. I don't wear eyelash extensions because when I take them off, I look, um, I feel lesser than again. I feel like then I need to really overdo it with makeup because I look naked, you know? Um, and I also want my daughters to know that they're okay as they are. And every time we do these new products and procedures, it does raise the bar for the next generation. So I'm not here to shame or blame anybody. But I do think we have an opportunity to push back just a little bit to consider what we are doing, because shame is fueling it and prove to ourselves and prove to the world that we are still us. We are even more us without those crutches we use to rely on.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And you mentioned raising the bar for the next generation. I, that is, that hits home with me because I do feel like even if we're really careful about the way that we talk to our kids, the way that they see us and how we carry ourselves speaks louder than any of our words. Right?

Lexie: Oh, it's so true. Yeah. I mean, I'm getting there right now. You probably are too with a five-year-old my five-year-old daughter. Like, I mean, she, she knows our work. She has memorized our mantra. My body is an instrument, not an ornament. Like she, she knows it is nobody's job to be pretty. These are things we talk about all the time. And so far, it's been amazing. I have not run up against anything yet where I'm worried about things, but, you know, she is starting to like, um, I changed my clothes in front of her because I want her to see bodies. I want her to see a diversity of bodies. And one day when I was changing my clothes, she said, you have a Gigli bummy. And that could have been a time where I let the shame kind of overtake me and think, Oh my gosh, it is, I really need to do something about this.

Lexie: But instead for Logan, I made sure that that was a good thing. I said, yeah, I do. And you do too. And then we jiggled our dummies together, which is appraise. I did not think I was sick, but honestly, um, the idea that we can model to our kids, that we can live shame-free even if internally, you're feeling a little bit of shame or a lot of shame when we model to our kids that we are okay. And they are okay, that we aren't constantly monitoring ourselves and adjusting our clothing and talking about how we appear and talking about how other people appear for good or bad. We can groove to them that our bodies are instruments, not ornaments and bears are too. And it really does take how we treat ourselves and how we talk about ourselves first.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think in recent years, we've seen this huge increase in perfectionism. This is just my anecdotal evidence, perfectionism, especially in motherhood. And that feels scary to me because the closer we get to emulating this idea of a perfect mother, the higher the bar is for our kids. Oh yeah. These are big shoes to fill. And that, and I don't know that I want to create big shoes, that my kids are going to struggle to fill one day, whether that's having the perfect body or the perfect career or the perfect sense of calm, whatever it is. I don't even want to pretend that I've got that all figured out because I want them to have that space to feel like they can be imperfect and flawed as well.

Lexie: Oh, I love that. Oh my gosh. Yes. I think that ability to be vulnerable with your kids when you can, even when it comes to bodies, especially as they get older is going to be deeply important to them. Like when your child starts expressing some feelings of, you know, self comparison or body angst and shame that will inevitably come up in one way or another, that's your opportunity to be real, like to talk to them about the fact that you've had those same feelings. We write about that in the book. Um, some of the women from our dissertation studies were able to really bond with their parents over, going back to them to talk about maybe the ways they'd been impacted in the past because of their parents, um, words, or been able to open up to their mom and then hear their mom say, I struggle with the same thing. Let's get through this together. Like those opportunities to be vulnerable, we'll do more for our kids than trying to model that everything's okay. You know, like it depends on your kid and you know, your kid better than anybody, but when you can to take opportunities to say, yeah, I felt yucky too. And here's what I do to try to cope with that. And here are some things you can do. Let's work on this together. That is real. That is power.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I feel like it's, it feels scary as a parent to talk about these things. And I know a lot of times parents are scary to talk about touchy subjects, like with this, with their kids, because they're afraid they're going to kind of plant these seeds. Right? Give them ideas about their body being imperfect when those seeds are already there. They're just exactly. You're put, you're bringing out the conversation around and not

Denaye Barahona: Bearing it down deep. And that's where shame comes from.

Lexie: Amen. Yeah, you're exactly right. I mean, we recently on Instagram had a post and a conversation around this because, um, I was talking about media literacy with kids and how to teach kids about this stuff. And when you become a mom, especially like in the field, I am, I'm acutely aware of how many messages are trying to tell my daughter that girls are their job is to be pretty basically, um, that you are here to be arm candy, that you don't do anything to move the plot forward. Um, that if a girl is represented on camera, she is always beautiful. She is always sexualized. This happens so consistently. I mean, even in the best of movies, even in movies like frozen, that all of our kids are obsessed with the male characters, get to be everything else.

Lexie: They get to be the, what is that? Is it like a reindeer? Yeah. They get to be the snowman. They get to be the guys that are shaped different ways. They get to be all the other characters and the women for the most part get to be beautiful. And yes, frozen. I mean, I don't want to make anybody mad about frozen because yes, it has amazing, you know, an amazing plot and female lead characters, but one thing I'm looking for and what girls need more than, more than ever are female protagonists that are, that are representing a variety of races, ethnicities, body shapes, sizes, doing anything besides talking about their looks and bidding, these very sexualized ideals. And so when I'm watching a show with my daughter, we're already very careful about what we watch and only watch the kinds of shows that I'm talking about, that, that feature girls in a more positive and less sexualized light.

Lexie: And when we're watching, if we do see something that you know is just a ton of male characters and then the woman has to look this certain way. Um, the latest was in Ralph breaks the internet, I think it's the second one. And every female character is hourglass shaped to the T and the male characters are shaped like potatoes and you know, just everything it is so maddening. I said to my daughter, huh? Why do you think the people that created this show are so uncreative when it comes to the girls, why do you think the boys get to be all these different kinds of ways? And the girls all have to look the same way. And of course she doesn't know she's four. Um, but one thing she said was, yeah, why don't we give the boys eyelashes? And I said, you are right.

Lexie: The girls always have eyelashes to signify femininity, beauty, but the boys don't. And she caught onto the fact that the boys don't have eyelashes. Even though boys have eyelashes in real life, we kind of laughed about that. But one thing I challenged her and I challenged all parents to do is to create some art yourself, like draw or sculpt or paint, you know, use Play-Doh, whatever the thing is, and be more creative than these media makers are being. What kind of world would you create? What do the characters look like in your world? Do they look like people, you know, real life, which is a good question to ask when we're watching shows, um, these are things that can help our kids recognize that this is created, that all of this media is not the norm, but there are people with preconceived ideas about who women are that are creating media that looks this way. And they can start early on to realize that they aren't just passive consumers, but that they can be creators too.

Denaye Barahona: Right. And the value of asking questions, I think that's something we need to understand because when you asked your daughter, why do you think that the girls are all shaped like this? You weren't really looking for an answer. You were planting a question that you wanted to live on in her brain for the rest of her life. So she can continue to question. And I think that's something we all have to remind ourselves. We're not looking for insight or specific answers from our kids when we ask them questions, we're teaching them to questions.

Lexie: DeOh yeah. That's awesome. I love that. Yeah, you're totally right. That idea of critical questioning is a game changer before all of us see the, for the oldest woman listening to this or a man, um, this is so important to critically question, every single message that comes in because they are profit driven. I mean, with the exception of like public broadcasting, the BBC, PBS, everything you are consuming is created with advertising dollars and, and is created to drive a profit. This is so important. And that is what leads to female characters having to look the way they do, because on our favorite shows, the advertisers need to make sure those women look the right way at the anti-aging solutions that whatever the thing is, the, the actual content being created has to also drive that point home. It's all aspirational. So it's important to just question things. You don't even have to have the answer, just having those questions and being able to plant those questions in our kids' minds, it will give them the opportunity to be more creative and also to rebel rebel against these messages that many of us thought we just had to passively consume. Cause that's just the way it is.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that even though, I mean, I know, I feel like we've made a lot of progress in society as far as women are concerned. However, we're not even, we're barely scratching the surface. And by the time our, our daughters are grown, like they're still going to be scratching at the surface. So they need tools. Just like we need tools. They're going to need tools because we're not going to have this problem fixed by the time that they are teenagers.

Lexie: Yeah, totally. That's in what, 10 years. Yeah. No, but I do have a lot of hope for them. Like I see the ways my daughter will not put up with the crap I put up with because I just thought that's how it had to be. You know, the fact that I was dieting from the time I was in seventh grade on, because I thought there was something wrong with me and I needed to lose weight in order to be happy when I was already happy. I already had all the things I wanted, you know, maybe not the boyfriend, you know, but like everything I wanted, I had, I had all the privilege in the world and yet I still thought that I needed to shrink myself in order to be more me and my daughter I know is maybe is definitely going to get messages that tell her thinner is better, but from a million other sides, she's going to get messages. But tell her her body as an instrument, not an ornament and to rebel against every message and every person that tells her, otherwise, I just, I have so much hope for this generation that they are going to rebel a little bit harder because they have more tools than we did.

Denaye Barahone: Yes, I absolutely agree. Thank you so much, Lexie. This has been so informational and inspirational because I feel like I'm asking myself so many questions and I'm going to keep planting those questions, not just in my daughter, but in my son as well, because I think that it doesn't just come in the females, but also changing the mindset of males too.

Lexie: Amen. Oh, we could talk for days about that. Yes. Yeah.

Denaye Barahona: Well, thank you so much. I am going to put the links to your Instagram, beauty redefined and your book more than a body. Um, and I love just hearing from you and I look forward to more to come.

Lexie: Thank you so much.

I hope you've enjoyed this episode. If you have definitely be sure to follow Lexie and Lindsay on Instagram at Beauty Redefined and check out their book More Than A Body, you can find the links to those in the show notes, take a screenshot of yourself, listening to this and post it up to your Instagram stories. I'd love to hear your questions and comments. Thanks so much for tuning in a quick reminder that the first week of May, I'm going to be running a special offer on the simple families foundations program. So if you've been waiting for that, make sure to put it in your budget and Mark it on your calendar. I'd love to have you have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.