Taking Back Beauty: We’re Not Buying It Because We Own It!
We came across some pretty tragic news on the newsstands today. Boys’ Life magazine, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts, sells little guys on a life of adventure and awesomeness. Their headlines:
Take the Plunge
High Adventure Awaits You
True Stories of Scouts in Action
Gear Guy Fixes Your Old Boots
Cool, right? THEN we found Girls’ Life magazine right next to it. And it’s THE WORST. Their headlines:
127 Fall Fashion Ideas
Look flawless: The Skin Secret You Need
Get a Hot Mane Makeover
The NEW Guide to Guys
1-Minute Makeup tricks
This madness has got to stop. Unrelenting, unattainable beauty ideals being sold to girls at every turn halts female progress in major ways. These messages beg us to obsess over our looks to the detriment of everything else. Our relationships suffer. Our mood drops. Our self worth goes down the drain. Our feelings of empowerment disappear entirely.
We cannot dismiss entertainment media – from Girl’s Life magazine to children’s animated movies, your favorite TV show, or Miley’s twerking – as harmless and fun. It’s not harmless when the messages sent to girls and women are inescapable: You are a body to be looked at, fixed, and judged. That is your whole job. Now get to work. Boys and men get to do and be and say lots of things in this world, including media we are surrounded by, but girls and women simply do not. Look around at your world today and you’ll see the profit-driven beauty ideals are everywhere. It’s time to turn toward the light – the truth we shout from the rooftops: You are capable of much more than looking hot! When we believe it, our whole lives change.
The thing is, one of the worst ways these beauty ideals tear women down is by tearing us apart. Instead of bonding with other girls or women doing cool stuff like Boy’s Life magazine encourages our male counterparts to do, we get stuck competing with each other for ultimate hotness and popularity. It’s really hard to experience the bonding and joy of life with other females when you are obsessed with how you look doing it. The pain and shame that many women feel regarding their bodies (often the result of body bashing or shaming) sometimes leads them to bash or disparage other body types in an attempt to lift themselves up. We at Beauty Redefined have been very straightforward about NOT being one of those groups that claims to be “body positive” while simultaneously bashing thin people or women who appear to fit current beauty ideals. There are plenty of those groups out there, and they do more harm than good. The people who run those pages or generate those images are people who haven’t spent a decade (and earned PhDs) studying the effects of this body-obsessed culture on the girls and women who grow up under the pressure of these tall/young/thin/white/
We know exactly how toxic it is for people to be constantly fixated on girls’ appearance, and accordingly, how toxic it is for those girls to grow up being constantly fixated on their own appearances — whether they’re being complimented on their thinness or beauty or being teased for their weight (too small OR too big) and appearance. We work constantly to take the focus OFF appearance and help girls and women to feel good about themselves regardless of what they look like (or what others perceive they look like). Girls and women who feel good about themselves are more likely to take better care of themselves — to exercise regularly and make healthy eating choices. That is why we redefine beauty to be more all-encompassing of all of our appearances, experiences, and abilities.
When people say “curvy girls are better than skinny girls” or tell a thin woman she should eat a cheeseburger, they’re doing a disservice to all women. Redefining beauty means accepting a much broader definition of what constitutes beauty and then moving on to more important things — like REAL health, happiness, and positively influencing others. THAT is beauty. That is why we are known for telling women they are “capable of much more than looking hot.” Whatever your size, age, shape, or race, we’re all under pressure from the same profit-driven culture of appearance obsession, so let’s make sure we’re working TOGETHER to take back beauty for girls and women everywhere. We guarantee we’re stronger taking back beauty together — in all our beautifully diverse glory — than we will ever be apart.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: A beautiful movement is underway. History is being made. If you’re reading this, you are part of this hopeful new history being written as we team up, taking back beauty, health, and happiness and restoring it to its rightful place within each of us. With your help, our daughters and sons will not face the pain and waste the time believing females are valuable for their parts and only lovable and successful when they meet beauty ideals designed to be unattainable.
We refuse to be held down by industries that make billions off keeping our focus on perfecting our parts. Today, we stand alongside every other female and male willing to resist the face of powerful industries that profit from our losses. They win when we lose our self-worth and try to find it where it cannot be found – beauty products, cosmetic procedures, sexual objectification, disordered eating, diet pills, etc. The truth is all around you: You are capable of much more than being looked at. Your reflection does not define your worth. There is more to BE than eye candy. If beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong. If any of those statements resonate with you, it’s because you already know it inside on some level, and Beauty Redefined is just providing a happy reminder. We’re just here to remind you of truths you already know. And when you know these truths – really KNOW them – everything changes. It becomes more clear that the fight is against unreal beauty ideals and objectification, not women of more culturally valued body types or appearances.
We (Lindsay and Lexie Kite) work around the clock to promote positive body image and teach media literacy (the skills to critically deconstruct and understand media messages) online and through speaking engagements. Big announcements here: We are also in the process of writing and publishing our first book (!!!) and debuting an online training program for girls and women who need more in-depth support in improving their body image and fighting self-objectification. Additionally, supporters of Beauty Redefined do lots of things to join us in taking back beauty in their own lives and circles of influence.
- They speak openly with their friends, kids, students, and colleagues about the ways media objectifies women and contributes to body fixation, disordered eating, sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits, and other problems that stem from body shame.
- They fight messages that hurt their body image with resilience, and come out stronger and more awesome than they could have ever imagined. Seriously. Try it.
- They never, ever shame anyone for the look of their body or the choices they make with their bodies. They know shame is THE WORST thing they can do to a person’s sense of self worth, health, and happiness.
- They calmly and eloquently respond to body bashing online and in person in ways that promote understanding and empowerment rather than anger and continued objectification.
- They value themselves as well as all girls and women for much more than what they look like, through both words and actions.
- They might even talk directly back to media powerholders that objectify and degrade women for profit. They do this by refusing to shop at or support stores, brands, or media outlets that openly degrade and objectify women for profit.
- They book us for speaking engagements in their schools, communities or professional associations or sponsor us financially, or if they are unable to do so, they spread the word to their connections who can.
- They use their own social media influence to post positive, empowering links and images, and lend support to others who do the same. They also unfollow and unsubscribe from people, pages, and groups that promote unreal appearance ideals or depict women as parts of bodies to be judged, fixed, and discussed.
- Most importantly, they go out and live, and do, and be — regardless of what they look like — in order to take their power back and lead happy, healthy lives.
For more info, watch us in action in this TV interview and many more here:
*Fredrickson et al. 1998; Fredrickson & Harrison, 2004; Gapinski, Brownell, & LaFrance, 2003; Harter, 1993; Hebl, King, & Lin, 2004; Nolen-Hoeksema, 1990; Simmons, Rosenberg, & Rosenberg, 1973; Steinberg, 1999; Steingraber, 2007