EP 21: Leading With Body Resilience with Co-Author of More Than A Body, Lindsay Kite, PhD

eating disorders Feb 19, 2021

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing.

Many of us who fit western standards of beauty and live in conventionally abled bodies don't understand how our choices can cause pain. We've internalized ableism and fat-phobia to the point where we can't even grasp how our words & deeds cause harm.

In particular, in the last year, and perhaps for a while longer, many of you have come to terms with the way you operate in the world and cause pain or harm in a way you have no idea.

Talking about beliefs around body, health, size, and beauty can feel like a tenuous social quagmire. Perfectionism and shame love to hang out and have a party with both mindset and mental health when tackling nuanced and vulnerable topics like this one.

We breathe in the many conflicting messages on what it means to be enough, to be strong, to be worthy. Our bodies carry the burdens of these messages and beliefs.

Recognizing how collusion with systems and toxic beliefs affects too many means taking action   to alleviate this pain and suffering.

Because accepting these standards unchecked and at face value is dehumanizing and devaluing.

It’s time to choose the socially and morally responsible path to learn what it means to cultivate an environment that supports rathan than harms.

While many companies and organizations are stepping up and making an effort towards this, my guest today shares how the good intentions are often missing the intended - and needed -  impact.

Dr. Lindsay Kite is co-author of the new book More Than a Body and co-director of the nonprofit Beauty Redefined, alongside her identical twin sister Lexie Kite. They both received PhDs from the University of Utah in the study of female body image and have become leading experts in body image resilience and media literacy.

Today, Lindsay and Lexie continue to help girls and women recognize and reject the harmful effects of objectification in their lives through their new book, their online Body Image Resilience course, social media activism, and regular speaking engagements for thousands of people of all ages.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • Self-objectification and body resilience: These are the game-changer in how you can change your outlook and approach to body anxiety.
  • Dr. Kite unpacks what gets in the way of how we see ourselves and how that impacts our courage and how we show up in work and life.
  • The call Dr. Kite puts out for all of us—especially those with privilege—to challenge our bias around body size personally and in our places of work.

Learn more about Dr. Lindsay Kite:

Learn more about Rebecca:

Resources from this episode:

Scroll Down for The Full Episode Transcript:

Lindsay Kite: As leaders, as aspiring leaders, as people who want to have a positive influence and also be completely fulfilled and truest to ourselves, like reach out own maximum capacity in life, we have to be willing to push those boundaries and to test those lies that live in our minds about which bodies are acceptable and how important the appearance of your body is to the success of your life.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: We can't avoid hurting people. We’re human. We make mistakes. What we can do, though, is learn to recognize the ways we’re most likely to cause harm and start to address those patterns in the way we lead. I know you don't want to hurt people. I sure don't. It guts me when I learn I’ve done something that causes someone else to feel pain or brings up bad memories, and to make the changes we desire, we have to build the inner capacity to feel through painful learnings while remaining open to feedback.

We live in a complex world, and leadership that mitigates doing harm is supported by respecting nuance and relationships over transactions and checklists. Addressing the patterns that cause harm requires practices and systems that invite feedback and space to learn, unlearn, and grow.

I'm Rebecca Ching, and you're listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose burdens have inspired their life's work.  Our goal is to learn how they’ve addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more impactful leaders of themselves and others.

Caring about those you lead means caring about the harm you may unknowingly be doing. Many of us who fit Western standards of beauty and live in conventionally-abled bodies don't understand how our choices can cause pain. We’ve internalized ableism and fatphobia to the point where we can't even grasp how our words and deeds cause harm.


In particular, in the last year, and perhaps for a while longer, many of you have come to terms with the way you operate in the world and cause pain or harm in a way you’ve had no idea. Talking about beliefs around body, health, size, and beauty can feel like a tenuous social quagmire, and it is in a lot of spaces, right? Perfectionism and shame love to hangout and have a  party with both mindset and mental health when tackling nuanced and vulnerable topics like these.

We breathe in many conflicting messages on what it means to be enough, to be strong, to be worthy, and our bodies carry the burdens of these messages and beliefs. Recognizing how collusions with systems and toxic beliefs affect too many means taking action to alleviate this pain and suffering because accepting these standards unchecked and at face value is dehumanizing and devaluing. It’s time to choose the socially and morally responsible path to learn what it means to cultivate an environment that supports rather than harms.

While many companies and organizations are stepping up and making an effort towards this, my guest today shares how the good intentions are often missing the intended and needed impact. Dr. Lindsay Kite is co-author of her new book, More Than a Body, and run don't walk to get this on your bookshelf stat. She is the co-director of the non-profit Beauty Redefined, which, again, one of my favorite spaces on sometimes a complex place in social media. Beauty Redefined is putting out some really important, steady, good content for all of us, and she’s done this alongside her identical twin sister, Lexie Kite. They both received PhDs from The University of Utah in the study of female body image and have become leading experts in body image resilience and media literacy.


Today, Lindsay and Lexie continue to help girls and women recognize and reject the harmful effects of objectification in their lives through their new book, their online body image resilience course, social media activism (yes, it’s a thing), and regular speaking engagements for thousands of people of all ages.

Pay attention to a couple of terms Lindsay introduces us to: self-objectification and body resilience. These are the game-changers in how you can change your outlook and approach to body anxiety in yourself and in others. Listen to how she unpacks what gets in the way of how we see ourselves and how that impacts our courage and how we show up in work and life. And take note of her call (especially those with privilege) to challenge our bias around body size, personally and in our places of work. Now, please welcome Dr. Lindsay Kite to The Unburdened Leader podcast.

You're listening to The Unburdened Leader, and I am so, so thrilled to welcome Lindsay Kite to this episode. Lindsay, thank you for joining me on the show today. As I mentioned in our pre-conversation, I’ve been following your work for a while, and I am really excited to dig in and talk with you and learn from you today.

Lindsay Kite: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to talk to you!

Rebecca Ching: So, I’d like to start, really, just kind of helping everyone kind of get a sense of how you got interested in the work that you're known for (the intersection of media, wellness, and women’s bodies). I’m just really curious for you to talk about that. And then was there a time when you personally had an aha moment about how the media was encouraging you to see your own body?

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, that’s actually -- the answer to both those questions is the same.


This has really been a long-time process, but it all started when I was 18 years old, and I have an identical twin, as you know, Lexie, and we do this work together, and we started it at the same time with a very similar aha moment. It was actually on the same day or within the same two days because we had both signed up for this media studies class as freshmen in college in journalism. And this class was about how to deconstruct media messages, how to understand why media representations are engineered the way they are and how that affects our perceptions of ourselves and other people. And the section on gender, the way they described the ways women’s bodies have been shown to us in such a narrow and limited way with such a focus on beauty and thinness and sexual attractiveness, Lexie and I sat in different classrooms and had the same aha moment where we realized this was something that had deeply affected us because we never questioned the fact before that we were completely obsessed with weight loss, with beauty, with making sure we looked good, appeared attractive at all times, and just too much of a fixation on what other people thought when they looked at us. And of course, this is not an unusual thing. Most all the girls and women we knew and had grown up around have the exact same fixation, but it was a matter of realizing that we had kind of been duped and manipulated to think this way that pushed us down a road of, really, ten more years of higher education (Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs) non-stop to dig into this and understand how media messages do this, and most importantly, how women can see their way through it and make choices that can help them build their resilience to it rather than just succumbing to it.

Rebecca Ching: You've been duped by the media. I mean, that’s like waking up to realize that what you almost took for granted as truth or just as it just is --

Lindsay Kite: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: -- wasn't just the only way of seeing yourself and seeing others and seeing the world. That’s a pretty big statement.


Lindsay Kite: Yeah, I completely stand by it, and I feel like when more girls and women are able to develop a little bit of righteous anger over that feeling of being duped and being so just convinced that your worth depends so heavily on how you appear and having a body that looks one way as being key to health, happiness, desirability, and success, all of that righteous anger toward being duped can push you down a much better path. But you’ve got to recognize it first. That’s really the first step.

Rebecca Ching: Absolutely. So, talk a little bit about that righteous anger moment for you, what that looked like. If I were a fly on the wall seeing you and your sister kind of in the-curtain-being-pulled-back moment, [Laughs] what would I see in that moment as you were just kind of taking this in?

Lindsay Kite: I like the way you phrase that because I can actually tap back into how I felt emotionally and kind of physically at that moment sitting in that classroom. I remember at first I felt extremely self-conscious, extremely embarrassed that they were talking about something that was just kind of an academic principle, a critical way of  looking at the world, and it is not something that I had ever done before, not on a conscious level at least. And so, I sat there feeling very self-conscious, not only that I had been duped, but that it’s something that had so deeply affected me. This fixation on needing to be smaller in order to gain access to health and happiness and love and all of that other stuff that I so deeply wanted and that everyone wants caused me to feel kind of a heart racing, I remember feeling a little bit of kind of an adrenaline rush, but it was a nervous adrenaline rush for me, and it was a sign to me that I needed to process it further and understand it better. I think that’s why it propelled so much more work that came after it, and it’s not like it was an immediate thing, you know?

I took a few years to even fully reconcile how deeply this stuff had impacted me and how I had held myself back in ways that I wouldn't have if I wasn't so hung up on how other people saw me.


And so, it was a long process, but as the academic work and the research unfolded, I began to learn, not only how to help other women walk out of this rut of self-objectification and fixation on appearance, but I learned how to walk myself out of it, too, and I think that’s where it’s made the biggest impact for me is because it’s both professional and personal, and I can speak to it with such passion because I know that it works and that it’s true.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] I love that, and I love that there’s that initial physiological response, and I appreciate how you talked about even unpacking that righteous anger, and to me, these are my words, but that sense of betrayal. It’s disorienting when you kind of wake up to what you thought was true, and then all of a sudden it’s like everything gets garbled, right? I feel like that’s part of growing up, but there’s something that when it’s about your being, your body, your essence, that’s huge, right? And so, it isn't something you just flip a switch on.

And I loved what you said earlier, too, how righteous anger, which, on its own that’s a whole nother conversation of anger and women and how we navigate that, but I love talking about righteous anger as something we’ve got to claim, how that can propel you towards good things, and it can be the fire towards good things, which I’m with you on that. Can you talk a little bit more about what that righteous anger and this awareness, the pulling back of the curtain, what that propelled you towards?

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, definitely. I like to think of this righteous anger as like a disidentification with what I used to fully identify with. It’s this kind of feminist notion of collective disidentification. I think it was Susan Bordo who wrote about that a long time ago, but it’s like this collective feeling and motivation when women start to recognize the ways we’ve gotten the short shrift, the ways that we have really been held back, not just from personal choices and this individual shame and embarrassment that we have about our bodies, but this very collective, this very universal, really, in our culture, way of thinking about bodies.


So, this righteous anger I think, for me, it was something that pushed me down a path of needing to reclaim my identity, to reclaim how I could find confidence, self-worth, my own personal value, how I could understand myself differently, and for me, that was learning to see my body differently, in a more holistic, a more positive way. And Lexie and I both started this process personally but also, like I said, from a research standpoint, where we were able to see all of the different messages that we and so many others had taken in through our entire lives that really presented women in such a one-dimensional way, and it’s usually through a sexualized perspective, like a heterosexual male perspective. And we, then, internalize that view of our bodies, and it showed up in our research.

So, the first question that we asked all of the women in our PhD studies was, “How do you feel about your body?” And these women didn't know that they were involved in a body image study. They thought they were just in some women’s health research, and overwhelmingly, like, 80% of these women described their feelings about their bodies in terms of what they hated about their appearance, specifically. And this is self-objectification. When you see your body through an outsider’s perspective, and a super-critical sexualized outsider’s perspective, that’s a result of growing up in an environment where women’s bodies are objects, they are up for evaluation and scrutiny. And that is something that should make everyone mad. That discomfort that we all have in our bodies and about our bodies should be a motivation for people to want to learn more, to feel better, to make change in really practical ways, and that’s really the foundation of all of our work in body image resilience.


Rebecca Ching: Okay, so, my brain’s exploding now with five different things I want to go down, but I want to slow it down. First, I want you to talk a little bit more about your research. I think it’s important to lay that foundation for those listening to this show because, as we talked about earlier, your research really was the first of its kind, I know that I could draw on, that really talked about a relationship with our bodies not as something to get rid of or something that was a problem. It’s just more of the state of so many other things. So, talk a little bit about your research, and, again, I want to make sure the listeners know you did gold-standard research. Now, a lot of people talk about research like, “I did my research,” which is not Googling. [Laughs] You did gold-standard research, which is the highest standard of research in the academia world and found a lot of things that actually proved what you and your sister were experiencing. So, talk a little about your profession or your focus and the research first.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, so, our area of focus was really on how to understand the negative state of women’s body image, where those ideas come from, and then how to help women to counter those negative effects through their own personal choices. So, this is a mix of media studies, which is in the field of communication, and it’s also a mix of sociology, health promotion, health education, and psychology. A lot of different fields go into this. We kind of had to pave our own path. A lot of the work that was accessible at the time when we started this -- we started in ‘07 with our Masters degrees, and a lot of the work was focused on why women feel negatively or even just the simple fact that women feel negatively about their bodies. And so, it focuses on high-school-aged girls, undergraduate young women (especially in those age groups because they're easy to research). It was really largely about media affect. So, it’s like look at these images, and there are all kinds of different images and control groups, and then the ones who look at the images that are really idealized, they feel worse afterwards. They self-objectify more.


And there was also research about objectification, about how objectification is this real rut that people get in because you grow up in a world that objectifies women’s bodies and then you learn to view your body that way, AKA self-objectification, and this has negative effects. When people self-objectify, they go down a couple of different paths that keeps them further self-objectifying. And so, all of this research that was available at the time was really sad. It was really dark. It hit a wall. All of this body image stuff was just so hopeless, and especially at the time and continuing now, there are so many public campaigns trying to fight this problem of negative body image, and they do it by trying to convince girls and women that they're already beautiful just the way they are, and your flaws make you beautiful, and everyone has a bikini body. We’re all familiar with these phrases at this point. Really well-meaning people in organizations work with this. Our research was determined to find a way past this because that stuff isn't working. The really basic Dove message of “every body is beautiful,” that wasn't really fixing people's problems. Instead, what we identified as the missing puzzle piece in all of this is an understanding of self-objectification.

So, if your focus is on how your body appears, you're never going to feel positively towards your body because this standard is set by the outside world, this world that isn't going away, a culture that shapes women’s bodies as looking one way to be acceptable and normal and all of that. And so, we can't rely on this feeling of beautiful, which is so fleeting and so flimsy and defined by outside sources to cause us to feel positively toward our bodies. Instead, we have to recognize that imagining our bodies and valuing them from an outsider’s perspective is the problem and it is not the solution. The solution is to get back inside our own bodies, to look from the inside out at the world rather than taking the perspective of the world and looking from the outside in at our bodies.


Rebecca Ching: Okay, whoa, whoa.

Lindsay Kite: It’s important.

Rebecca Ching: You’ve got it. I’m like, okay, we’ve got to pause here because it is literally seeing ourselves from our bodies outside versus defining ourselves from the outside in.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, it’s living inside our bodies rather than just looking at them from the outside. It’s this whole idea that your body is an instrument, not an ornament.

Rebecca Ching: Yes.

Lindsay Kite: It’s not decorative. It’s not something to be admired from the outside and judged, which is overwhelmingly how women see and feel about their own bodies. We have to get back inside our own bodies in order to value them in appropriate and accurate ways so that we can move on to bigger and better things, not holding ourselves back by self-objectifying. Really, a lot of women, what we’ve seen in our research and so many others’ research is that girls stop raising their hands in class, they stop going up for leadership positions. Women don't speak up. They won't walk to the front of the room. They won't go up for a promotion or engage in physical activity or sports that they want to do. We drop out of social situations. So many ways that women and girls are completely opting out of the best parts of their lives, including healthy relationships, because they are so hung up on how they might appear to others, and, of course, there are repercussions for not looking good enough, but some of these repercussions aren’t as big as what we imagine them to be.

Rebecca Ching: Ooh.

Lindsay Kite: And so, people are held back with just fear of what could happen if we don't look right.

Rebecca Ching: Okay, so, Lindsay, I hear a lot of people -- a lot of people that I maybe just in different communities outside of my bubble of the community that everyone’s like, “Amen! Yes!”

Lindsay Kite: [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: They're like, “Yeah, Rebecca, that all sounds well and good, but, yeah, no, I’m still gonna make sure that I fit in because the risk of losing my belonging --,” they won't say it that way, but they're just like, “Yeah, no.” But they're not willing.


It feels too scary to release the protector of caring what other people think and doing the work to make sure that others perceive you as enough.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, and doesn't that make sense considering the world that we live in? Of course women have such a strong tie to this feeling of, “I will be accepted, validated, loved, and happy if I live up to these standards of just normal for women today.” Of course, we have this fear hanging over our heads that if we don't, we will be not accepted, not validated, not loved. We’ll be rejected, and that’s the deep-seated fear that everyone has. And so, then there’s this messaging built up in our world through advertising and through really subconscious messages throughout all of media and our culture that say, “If you want to be happy and healthy and accepted, you can use these products, you can  lose this amount of weight because once I lost 50 pounds, then I got a great relationship,” or whatever, the success stories that we hear constantly.

And so, we grow up with this narrative about why we are so fearful of giving up this idea of fitting in through looking good. What I want to suggest is that it doesn't work. There are a couple of different sides to this story. Of course, there are people who will follow these ideals their whole lives or naturally live up to these thin ideals, white ideals, and all of the other ideals that go into our really specific idea for women today, and they may fit into those ideals naturally or with a lot of effort and time and money, but they're not necessarily always the happiest people or the most loved people. These are women who still get cheated on, who still get fired, who still get diseases and illnesses and disabilities and negative outcomes throughout their lives. They aren't necessarily guaranteed this love and acceptance and validation that we’re taught will come when we look right.


And on the other side of that, those who do receive the validation and acceptance and rewards that you can get in this society for looking better than other people can't hang onto it forever because we all age, we all grow, and our bodies change. And so, if we are tying our hopes for worthiness and love and acceptance to fitting these external beauty ideals, we are destined to fail. We are destined to have our self-worth and our confidence be determined by other people’s perceptions of us. We’re putting that power in other people’s hands, and that’s a real tragedy.

Rebecca Ching: Well, it’s trauma, too. It’s setting us up for an immense amount of pain, and this is a leadership issue, then, if people are not speaking up, are not creating, are not getting curious, are not pushing back, then we are missing out on immense talent, immense innovation, immense contribution that’s necessary. And then we’re seeing, gosh, what our culture’s reckoning with on such a huge level right now. I’m sitting here going the one key to really moving through negative body image -- because I’ll be honest with you, Lindsay, I often will say to people, “Listen, in the culture we live in, not having a bad body image day, week, month, even year is not necessarily realistic. It’s how we respond to it. But what I am challenged by now is to go, “Okay, if my energy’s trying change my outsides --,” and I’m not talking about I want to live a long life for my kids, and I want to be vital, and I want to live a vital life, and see my kids’ grandkids someday. That's not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the external.

And, again, I think there’s something to be said, like, I want to feel good about what I see, but I want to author that myself, and if I am spending a majority of my time thinking about how to change my outsides, my body image will stay tanked.


It will not improve, and that is what I’m gonna start assessing, not only checking in myself but in all those that I work with is, “What’s the majority of your focus? What are you trying to do? Let’s tease out the parts of you that are trying to change the outside, and what’s the fear if you don't, and let’s take a look at those fears and heal those fears and release those burdens that are contributing that you're only gonna be safe if you look a certain way, if you act a certain way. So, how’s that?

Lindsay Kite: That’s a great way to put it. Yes.

Rebecca Ching: Okay.

Lindsay Kite: Absolutely, and the leadership side of it I think is so important because, as leaders, as aspiring leaders, as people who want to have a positive influence and also be completely fulfilled and truest to ourselves, like reach out own maximum capacity in life, we have to be willing to push those boundaries and to test those lies that live in our minds about which bodies are acceptable and how important the appearance of your body is to the success of your life. We all have this idea in our minds that we will be happier when or we will be more desirable when --

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Lindsay Kite: -- we’ll be more successful when our bodies look this certain way. A lot of us, as women, our dreams and our minds are inseparably connected to our dream bodies and our minds. We picture ourselves being most successful and also looking a certain way that is probably different than we look now, and part of our minds are probably connecting the ability to reach those goals with the ability to have the self-control or the discipline to lose this amount of weight and to put in the effort and time necessary to be able to be confident about how your body looks, but in reality, we all need to be willing to challenge those ideas because a lot of them are simply myths. A lot of them are simply marketing myths that have led us to believe that the keys to these things can be bought in products and services that can literally be bought and are prescribed to us by the people who are not only diagnosing the solutions but also selling the supposed -- or they're diagnosing the problems but also selling the solution.


Rebecca Ching: It’s a racket. Yeah.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Okay, so, let me throw a curveball here that just occurred to me that I’ve evolved on myself. So, early, especially in my clinical career, there was this sense of, you know, “Love your body as it is,” and super rejecting, almost like this counter-shame if you wanted to change your body, if you did get botox or plastic surgery or really just wanted to have more muscle mass, and that was important. There was almost this shaming current backlash towards people who said, “Well, this is important to me.” And I feel like there’s a sense of agency, too, where some women are saying, “This is where I’m at, and this is what I’ve want,” and I’ve kind of learned to say, “Hey. I think there has been an overstep in this movement, too, where we shame people who are,” I don’t want to say buying into these messages, but in their agency, in their autonomy, even if they're saying, “Some of these messages, this is how I will feel better,” what do you say to that? What do you say to that?

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, good question because we’ve got to be totally honest about the world that we live in.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Lindsay Kite: And the world that we live in does value women who look a certain way more than it values women who don't. It values youth, and so, women spend a hundred billion dollars a year on anti-aging solutions that may or may not work, that may or may not help them look any better than they did the year before, but it’s still based on this idea that women’s youth is such a prized asset whereas we don't have that double standard for men. And so, we do need to be realistic about this world that we live in and acknowledge that.


And I think most important about this is that this is a personal job for every one of us. I place no blame, no shame on any woman who, literally or figuratively, buys into these ideals. If you want to go for every new innovation in plastic surgery and anti-aging and weight loss and whatever, I understand. I feel like I might understand better than anyone why people would want to do that.

And so, yeah, I have no judgment toward these people, but I want to suggest that this is an internal question for every single person. If you are able to take inventory of your life and see the ways that this buying into every beauty ideal hasn't necessarily served you or gotten you to where you want to be, if your goals haven't been reached, if your love life hasn't been everything you wanted, if all of your dreams haven't come true regardless of the amount of time and energy and effort and money you put into your appearance, then maybe it’s possible to disconnect those two things, and maybe we could redirect some of that effort and energy toward other aspects of our lives, our personalities, our experiences that might be able to contribute in more meaningful ways.

I also want people to literally take inventory of how much time, money, effort, and energy you spend on your appearance. This is work that women do. This is literal time and money that women spend, that men aren't asked to, and it does take a toll on us. And so, as you do that, check and see is this something that you're comfortable with? Are you happy with the amount of money that you are dedicating to your appearance and the time and energy and everything else? Is it really serving you in the ways that you want it to? And if it’s not, consider walking it back just a little bit. Consider moving that line. Your standard of the effort and energy you want to put in for your beauty, move it back just a little bit and see if you are okay when you do that.


If you don't go for that next round of botox, if you don't wear makeup to your next outing (not that many of us are going out these days), but if you don't participate in the next big diet, the new year’s resolutions that are so focused around restriction and weight loss, see if your life is really worse. I want to suggest that it won’t be.

For so many of us, really, for the women who have so much privilege, we have careers that aren't dependent fully on how we look, for those who have partners who aren't going to drop them as soon as they gain five pounds because they're off the yo-yo-diet train, and all of the other ways that we might be able to just walk back this beauty standard that we’re upholding through our own efforts, see if your life maybe even gets better. For me, it has. As I’ve cut back on the things that were rooted in shame, these decisions that we make are based in a feeling of feeling like we are abnormal, feeling like we are subpar and that’s what drives us to buy these products and inject these things into our faces, I want to recommend that people try to opt out of the ones that are clearly rooted in shame. Try to root the shame out of your life by just simply making some tiny steps at the very first and testing to see if your life is actually worse afterward or if you're actually just fine and in the process maybe setting a really great example for your daughters or the little girls or peers who look up to you because you are an accomplished and dynamic and powerful woman with or without wrinkles on your face.

Rebecca Ching: Now there’s a word. Now there’s a word. [Laughs] Yeah, and I appreciate that. It’s how I often talk to myself and to my clients, like, “Let’s collect some data. Let’s just collect some data,” and I love that call to collect data.


And I also want to bookend that with we have to honor -- we don't want to police other women’s bodies even in the name of body image or body love, which I have issues with, and so, it’s really just focusing on our own journey and not externalizing, policing, or idolizing, or committing idolatry, almost worshiping how other people think. So, it’s a nuanced conversion, and this is why I love the work that you and your sister do because you really do go to the nuance of this. Let’s collect data. Let's take a look. If we just took a step back and maybe paused, what comes up? And if it’s fueled by shame, (as Brené Brown says, the intensely painful feeling or fear of not being worthy of love and belonging) if that’s where in any shape or form, it’s maybe room just to get curious and pause for a little bit longer, and there may be parts that say, “Listen, I need this or else I can't survive,” but to keep staying curious about it, I think, again, if it’s gonna keep anyone from not speaking their truth, not showing up in life fully, if this rumble around obsession with how we are seen, this is really essential work. So, thank you for that nuanced reflection.

I’m curious how your research has been received because having been just working clinically in the eating disorder community, seeing that it can feel like a minefield sometimes even though at the heart of it is saving lives and really helping people, it’s really complex. And so, I’d love to hear how your research has been received and what resistance you’ve run into in sharing your research with organizations and the community at large.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, that’s a good question because you're right. It is a hot-button topic. The whole question of body image and women’s self-worth has been such a buzzword over the last, I don't know, decade, a little bit more than that.


And so, anyone who talks about it is bound to get a little bit of backlash, and one of the reasons for it, and one of the things that Lexie and I have certainly experienced is the objectification of women, especially as women who just happen to have bodies and be visible to the rest of the world, if we want to speak up about bodies, whether it’s completely rooted in our PhD research, it’s not opinion-based, it’s not based on our personal experience. People will still seek to dismiss it or object to it because of how we look. And so, especially early on -- I mean, it continues to happen today, especially when we do more larger public interviews or things like that, we don't look at the comments section, of course. That’s just a rule. But what we see, overwhelmingly, is people saying, “They don't know what they're talking about. They're too young and pretty to know what it feels like to be old and invisible,” or they will say the absolute opposite end of the spectrum is what it sounds like is that, “They're too fat and ugly and jealous of beautiful women to know what they're talking about, so don't listen to them.” And it’s fully a matter of perception. Those things have been said on the same day, and it is all part of the same spectrum because it’s all about objectifying us, dismissing what women say, the expertise women have, the experiences women have because of how you think they look, and it happens to women over and over again. And so, that’s certainly one element of it.

When it comes to our particular perspective on body image, that is something that has been tough, and we’ve gotten a little bit of backlash, more so a few years ago than now. It’s becoming more accepted. But one of the tough things is since body image is such a huge buzzword and since so many people are trying to tackle it, often in really similar ways, by sharing images of women’s bodies of all different shapes and sizes and saying, “This is beautiful. I’m beautiful. You're beautiful,” when we recognized some of the issues with that and, really, some of the shortcomings with that perspective, we started to speak openly about that at the end of 2015, beginning of 2016, and it was really at the height of body positivity online.


And so, some of the biggest body positive influencers in the world followed us on Instagram @beauty_redefined, and a couple of them were really upset when we first started to say, “There’s a difference between teaching people to love the way their bodies look and to feel positively about their bodies overall.” It’s that self-objectification piece of the puzzle, and unfortunately some of the body positivity, body love, I’m-beautiful-you're-beautiful stuff was keeping people focused on, “Is my body beautiful, and if it’s not, how can I think it’s beautiful so I can go out today?” It’s still kind of the self-comparison thing, this really just surface perspective on how to value our bodies. And what we are saying is that positive body image isn't believing your body looks good. It’s knowing your body is good regardless of how it looks.

And so, we presented it in kind of a divisive way (more of a divisive way that I would today), and so, you live and you learn.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Lindsay Kite: But some backlash that we received was like, “No, this is still important! This is a steppingstone to get to greater body love,” and it’s absolutely true. It’s important to be able to see a diversity of bodies and see people who look like you can who don't and learn to value them, but we have to take it a step further, and that’s what our work through Beauty Redefined and our book, More Than a Body, is really intended to do. It helps people to see that element of self-objectification that might actually be playing a huge role in the negativity we feel toward our bodies and toward ourselves, and then to help people practice really practical steps to be able to respond to those feelings of shame and self-objectification differently next time. It’s this process. It’s not like one day you're able to wake up and see that, “You know, other bodies look like me, and they're beautiful, so therefore I’m beautiful,” or, “My body is good just because I’ve decided it’s good.”


We know through our research that this is a process that you can start one day, and you're still going to feel those disruptions of shame and self-objectification tomorrow. Even if you're a body image expert whose been doing this for ten years, it’ll come up, and the difference is how do you respond right in the moment without getting back into the same ruts and routines of self-harm and addiction and disordered eating that so many of us fall into today that are not serving us.

Rebecca Ching: And even, I mean, that’s one end of the spectrum, right? But even it’s just that numbing and disconnecting --

Lindsay Kite: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: -- and living the zombie life or staying small or staying silent, right?

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: Because to me right now, that to me is the biggest casualty --

Lindsay Kite: Yep.

Rebecca Ching: -- of this immense focus that I am not worthy and safe to show up in life if I don't look and act a certain way. So, I think you're touching on that. So, what you're talking about really hits on what you wrote about in your book, More Than a Body, about body resilience. How does body resilience, or lack thereof, impact how we lead? I think you’ve touched on that a little bit.

Lindsay Kite: Mm.

Rebecca Ching: How do you think it impacts how we lead, and how can leaders improve their sense of body resilience, not only in themselves, but in the communities they lead? So, maybe just start with that first part of how does body resilience or lack thereof impact how we lead? I want you to unpack that a little bit more.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, if we aren't resilient to these feelings of shame that will inevitably come up for us in this objectifying culture, then we are at risk of hiding and fixing ourselves to death. That keeps us in this uncomfortable comfort zone that --

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Lindsay Kite: -- most women find themselves in, and that’s exactly what you're describing is this state of numbing yourself. That’s our second path that people take in a response to a disruption that causes them to feel shame about their bodies.


They will simply hide, opt out of activities, shrink. They will pursue the next diet, the next surgical solution, save money for it, even. Anything to feel in control of fixing their body from a wrong right now so that they can be right in the future. And being right in the future, in our minds, qualifies us to be that better leader, to go up for that opportunity or that experience that we want to have. And so, as leaders, if we are self-objectifying and keeping ourselves in this comfort zone of just numb discomfort, then we are at risk of not moving forward, of not living up to our fullest potential as real examples of people who are willing to push boundaries that exist in our own minds even if these boundaries feel like they're uncrossable, even if you feel like you can't go up and speak in front of that huge crowd until you lose a certain amount of weight because maybe they won't take you as seriously or maybe they won't really want to hear you or value what you have to say if you don't look right. These are myths that we need to challenge so that people who look like us and people who don't look like us are able to disconnect their judgment about someone’s appearance from what that person is capable of and what they have to say as being important.

When it comes to who we’re leading, I think it’s important for every leader to have a real personal awareness of how their ideas about bodies (not only their own body, but other people's bodies) play a role in how they perceive people, the people that they're leading. We all have prejudices and biases about different people. We have stereotypes. One of the really persistent stereotypes and biases that too many people have is fatphobia. It’s this idea that people who are fat have less self-control, are less morally superior, have whatever other problems that you probably couldn't even consciously count in your mind, but subconsciously, a lot of people have really negative ideas, perceptions about people who are fat.


And so, we need to be willing to challenge those biases in ourselves and to recognize when they're coming up for us, to recognize when we are associating different people, different candidates for positions. When we are associating them with negative stereotypes that are probably learned through our culture because that fatphobia is interwoven through every different, especially media message and cultural message in our environment. It’s really important to be aware of those things and how they’ve affected us.

Look around you. See the types of people that you're hiring, that you're associating with, that you are learning from. Do they all look the same? Are they all white? Are they all able bodied? Are they all straight? Do they all have a certain body type? Are they subscribing to the same ideals that live in your mind, too? We need to challenge ourselves to break out of that mindset that looking one way means that you are more successful or more reputable or whatever. Break those molds, interact, lead, be led by people who look very different from you so you can really challenge those expectations and break those stereotypes in your own mind.

Rebecca Ching: So, I’m 100% on board. I cosign with everything that you just said, and I’m hearing the objections, the very whispered objections that I’ve gotten from leaders I work with and leaders I know saying, “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but it might risk our bottom line. It might risk our community standing. It’s off-message.” What do you say to some of those fears and concerns?

Lindsay Kite: I would say that if anyone said those things about race, everyone today would say, “Okay, that’s wrong. Not only is it wrong, it’s inappropriate and illegal.”


Not too many years ago, it was acceptable to say, “Well, we can't really hire a Black person because that reflects really poorly on the company, and our white customers might not be into it.” And so, we need to consider those same types of stereotypes, those same types of prejudices as we do toward people of different body sizes. Consider it something that should be off limits, something that deserves to be challenged, and maybe you will take a hit to your bottom line because of some of the prejudices and biases that exist in your clientele or potential clientele or someone who might be hiring you. And honestly, if it is a hit that you can take and still survive and thrive and potentially find new clients or whatever new market that you can, can you expand into one that is a bit more open, a bit more ready to be challenged instead of falling into and recreating the exact same patterns that have existed for way too long?

I think if it’s a hit that you can take -- this goes personally and professionally for people -- we need to be willing to push some of those limits and see if those limits really exist or if they are self-imposed and created by a culture that really banks on people believing that beauty is the most important thing and that our success and our health and happiness depends on it. It may not, for corporations as well as for individuals.

Rebecca Ching: And this really comes down to I think ethics and values, and it’s almost a mandate that’s bigger than the bottom line right now, and that’s what we’re getting called up to, I think personally and professionally right now. And it’s hard work. It requires a lot of, again, building that resilience. It’s interesting, I was reading this article on resilience that we maybe still even have this finite view of resilience, and that might be a little bit almost still kind of like hot-wired, like let’s just get resilience and then we won't struggle versus is resilience more of this kind of ebb and flow and, like you said, how we respond more in the moment and how we improve, but sometimes it’s okay to still suck and still have a body image day and have body resilience. We can hold both.


What are your thoughts on some of that?

Lindsay Kite: Both are so important and are, in fact, crucial to the resilience process because it is those low points that allow you to reassess, to take that new inventory and make new changes. It sounds so trite and cliche, but it really is in our lowest moments when we have the opportunity to rise much higher than we had been before.

So, think of your comfort zone as a straight line. This uncomfortable comfort zone that so many women live in in their body images, their feelings about their bodies, it’s just this straight line. I think of it in terms -- we use this water metaphor throughout the book -- we’re kind of just floating on the waters of objectification in your comfort zone life raft.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Lindsay Kite: [Laughs] In this objectifying culture, we will always face waves of disruption that will toss us out of this comfort zone life raft because people will make comments about our bodies. We will experience changes in our bodies, whether it’s weight loss, pregnancy, miscarriage, abuse, sexual assault. All of these things will cause disruptions to your body image because they make you reassess your relationship with your body. They change how you feel about your body.

Rebecca Ching: One hundred percent.

Lindsay Kite: And when we are knocked out by those waves of disruption, how do we respond? Most of us are either going to sink deeper into shame in those waters of objectification by self-harm, disordered eating, addictive behaviors, some of those numbing things that actually leave us feeling worse off than before. But the majority of us are going to cling to those comfort zone life rafts even if they're totally deflated and not that helpful, and we will hide and fix ourselves to death.


It is this endless cycle of getting knocked out, clinging to your comfort zone, not actually being fixed, not actually being healed in any way but just prolonging the inevitable, which is the next disruption that causes you to hide and fix all over again.

But with the resilience process, when you get knocked out, all of a sudden you have that immediate reminder to look around you and figure out which resources you have access to, which skills do you already have, so that you can feel better than you did before in that uncomfortable comfort zone, so you can live better than you did before. And we lay out in the book all of the different skills and resources that we have access to that are innate, that are already right at our fingertips, or that can be learned and can be practiced over time.

Rebecca Ching: Nice.

Lindsay Kite: And the first thing that we recommend is that people simply look around at their environment. So, take inventory of what messages, what ideals have seeped into your mind through the media that you engage with, through the people you talk to who raised you, all of these different things that feed into this idea of who we should be, and especially what we should look like in order to be worthy of love and success and all of that. And then try to make some cuts, try to change that environment so it is actually a little bit  more healthy for you and so that you're not so numb to this normalized objectification that’s all around us.

The book is laid out into this process of being able to see more so that you can be more, and the see more chapters -- so, every chapter starts with a see more element, and that first one that I mentioned is see more in your environment. And the be more element is a practical way that you can do that and being able to see more in your environment requires media literacy. So, that’s kind of the foundation of our research. This ability to critically question and deconstruct the messages you take in about bodies -- so, being able to see who benefits from, who profits from you believing this thing about your body.


Where did you learn it? Can you reject it? Can you see a different way of thinking about it? And can you fill your life with some of those other more constructive ways of thinking about it? That is, really, one of the first steps.

Rebecca Ching: Ah, and it’s a great place to rumble with and really just start to experiment with a different way of being and seeing yourself in this world. I love it. I love it, and I want to go back to something you wrote about in your book, and you talked about this in the beginning of our conversation, about self-objectification and how it prevents our motivation along with our ability to feel energized, focused, and engaged in an activity, and what you referenced is often called flow.

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: So, I want you to repeat it. I know you touched on it a little bit, but just really clearly, what is self-objectification and how does that impact our mental wellbeing?

Lindsay Kite: Self-objectification is the process of monitoring and evaluating your body from the outside as if you were an outsider looking in at your body, and we learn to do this from the time we are extremely young. In research, this starts to show up in kids as young as three, four, five. And so, it starts to become normalized even though it is not a normal way of thinking about your body. It is in our culture, but it shouldn't be. And so, self-objectification effectively doubles your identity and your focus. You become this person that is going about your life, doing the things you need to do, as well as the person who is monitoring yourself from the outside, imagining how you appear as you go throughout your life. This doubles not only your identity but also your focus, your attention. It splits it in half. So, part of your mental energy and your focus, and even your physical energy to some extent, is constantly being dedicated to making sure you look right, to keeping your chin up at the right angle, to making sure your clothes are adjusted the right way, to keeping your stomach sucked in, to propping up your legs in this certain way and crossing them in a certain way when you're sitting around a table or on a bench because other people are nearby. It is exhausting, and it literally sucks the life and the energy out of us.


Self-objectification is truly at the root of so many women’s body image and confidence issues overall because we are being drained by this. And so, if you think you can go throughout your life and be as successful as possible and accomplish all you want to accomplish while also dedicating part of your mind and your energy toward your appearance, then you’re wrong actually because research shows that women who are self-conscious of their bodies, even when they are alone in a room, perform worse on all kinds of skills tests.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Lindsay Kite: Because that self-consciousness is literally draining a part of you. This is a real disadvantage that we are at, and in order to escape that disadvantage and be able to really fully focus and immerse ourselves in a task or an activity, we have to be able to get back inside of our bodies instead of thinking of them from the outside. It’s this, again, embodiment.

Rebecca Ching: Those are big words, and the practice -- I keep coming back to what you were saying -- is start collecting data. Let’s just experiment with, first, just collect data and how much we’re paying attention, how much this obsession, this focus on our outsides is taking up of our lives. I see it as a leak in the gas can, you know? And it’s like we can never fully go, and wow, what would our lives be like if this leak was patched up, if we had more of that energy? And so, it starts with an awareness of it, and then it starts with collecting data on, “Well, I don't want to give it up yet,” or what about -- okay, well, let’s just maybe step back a little and maybe delay it a little bit longer or take a break from watching this or consuming this media or whatever that may be, and see how you feel.

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: I know that when people start to go, “Oh, wow. I physically and or emotionally felt better because I made this choice,” that gets engrained in people.


That’s a lived experience to go, “Whoa, okay, I want more of that.”

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And it’s this nuance, but engaging in a world where you talked about a hundred million dollars spent on anti-aging cream -- I don't know where the numbers are now, but it’s sixty to eighty billion on just health and wellness, right? Or is it even higher?

Lindsay Kite: Specifically, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Specifically, which is the economy of a tiny country, you know?

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And that’s a year. That’s every year. So, if we look at what we could do with that money --

Lindsay Kite: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But that’s what they're investing -- and it shows that things aren't working, right? 

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: We’re switching and hopping around to different things.

Lindsay Kite: Yeah, this is like a process. To go back to what you said about how to break free of self-objectification, it’s a matter of, like you said, the awareness that it’s even happening and then the ability to challenge it in the moment. So, by collecting data, think of being able to recognize when your self-objectification is happening by acknowledging when that mental checklist is going through your mind of all the things you need to fix or monitor about your body in this moment.

So, this has happened to me when I’ve been walking down the street here in New York, and all of a sudden, I notice that my mind is kind of in this anxious cloud of thinking, “Ope, my skirt is riding up. I wonder what that guy who’s walking behind me is thinking of me. I need to make sure to suck in, keep my chin up,” whatever. It’s this endless mental task list that will keep you monitoring your body and fixing it, and in those moments when I can feel that anxious cloud of self-objectification, I am able to get out of it by getting back into my own physical body and focusing on my physical senses in particular. So, get back inside your body by thinking consciously, “What can I smell right now? How do my feet feel hitting the ground,” or, “How does my butt feel in this seat right now? Is there anything that I can physically touch? Can I feel how my feet feel in these shoes?”


What can you see? What buildings are you seeing around you? What do you need to be doing or thinking that could be more constructive than simply imagining how you might appear? And this is a real easy and kind of logical way to get yourself out of that immediate rut of self-objectification, and it also helps us to appreciate the function of our bodies and what our bodies allow us to experience as opposed to just how they look from the outside.

Rebecca Ching: You know, and you touch on kind of a practical step to do. There are many, and you touched on many who have experienced various kinds of trauma or betrayal in their body that any kind of embodiment feels dangerous. So, that is the data collected. “Wow, I can't do this because it’s dangerous,” so get the support to unburden, to release those pains so that, eventually even the goal can be to sit with noticing what it feels like to be in your skin.

Lindsay Kite: Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: And that's the work, and it’s such not a linear process, and I’m sure it’s a buzzkill to some people like, “Lindsay’s giving us a three-step plan.” I’m like, “And yet… if that’s hard….” No, and it’s a practice. It’s not a plan, what you're saying. This is a life-long practice that you and your sister [INDISCERNIBLE], and so, I want to be very clear on that, but I also want to note that I know people listening to this who -- I even see it with parents. “How can I have my kid never feel bad about her body?” I’m like, “Well, okay, how do we respond quickly when she starts to notice,” and so, shifting that is really the notice versus let’s shut it down, because that’s just not realistic in our culture. At least if you live in Western culture, it’s not realistic.


So, I want to wrap up with just your own journey, then, (kind of coming full circle) of this work. Where you're at in your life today. You mentioned it just briefly, but how has this work and this journey impacted your own relationship with your body?

Lindsay Kite: I’m so grateful that I experienced such deep-seated shame in my life that I was able to be so impacted by learning about its roots.

Rebecca Ching: Wow.

Lindsay Kite: It’s something that has so shaped my life and given me such a mission that has been so incredibly fulfilling, it has given me such direction that I truly don't think I could have found it any other way than through the dark path of that shame that I experienced for so much of my life because if I didn't know it so personally, I wouldn't care that so many others are facing these same struggles. So, it’s given me this awareness and also just a real righteous anger (like we discussed) to be able to keep pushing against it so that others don't feel such shame about their perfectly normal, regular bodies that they can truly have such happy and successful lives. It’s something that I feel so passionate about, not only because the research is exciting and it proved to be effective through our dissertation studies and because it’s personal, but also because it has worked in my own life, and that’s something that has especially proven to be true in the last couple of years for me.

I write about this in the book, and it is a deeply personal experience and one that I was hesitant to share at all, but I feel that I need to because I think it demonstrates that if you practice what you preach, which I absolutely have done, then it gives you just greater ammunition to be able to talk about it with fire and with passion, which I hope that I do. I was in a real rut. It was kind of a people-pleasing, perfectionist rut that I was not even aware of, and truly the key to get out of that was through therapy.


And therapy I think is something that really opened my mind to some of the deep-seated beliefs I had about myself that started from when I was a really little kid, especially around bodies. Even being this body image expert immersed in this research, it became so much more personal for me when I was able to really get to the root of some of those faulty core beliefs that I had.

And I put this resilience thing to the test, really, for myself, and it wasn't necessarily just a body image resilience thing, but it was a matter of getting to a dark spot, a really hard and anxious spot in my life two years ago, and because of that low point, being willing to seek for change and to make sacrifices and challenge myself to try to figure out how to improve my life, and I did that by moving to New York, by completely changing my life. And one of the reasons I hadn’t already moved to New York earlier than that is because I had this picture in my head of what I would need to look like in order to really be happy and successful and have a great life in New York. I had this terrible subconscious idea that started in my very early twenties, the first time I came to New York, that I would be able to fit in and be happy and confident and everything only if I was thinner. And so, this deep-seated belief lived in my brain for so many years where I pictured myself in New York only a few pounds lighter than I currently was, and so, maybe in the future, you know, I’ll figure that out. And even though this was a subconscious thing, I think it really had an effect on me, and I know it did because I had to choose to move to New York without making any changes to myself, without waiting until my life dream lived up to my dream body, and instead, I came here, and it has been truly the greatest experience. I told you earlier, it’s been one of the greatest decisions of my life because I had proven wrong every lie I believed about what I would need to look like in order to have a great dating life, a great career, great opportunities to speak and to be seen as credible in this work about body image.


I never wanted to be dismissed or rejected because people thought that I wasn’t beautiful enough, I wasn't thin enough, I’m just making excuses or whatever, all those things I’ve been accused of.

Rebecca Ching: “Who do you think you are,” right?

Lindsay Kite: Exactly. “Who do you think you are?” And so, I’ve put it to the test in my own life and, obviously, there are so many barriers that would hold someone else back from experiencing some of the same things I have. I have a ton of privilege to be able to live the life that I am able to lead, but it required pushing back against those lies that I believed about bodies, about my body. And I’m so grateful that I was able to. I just have such a strong passion for this idea of being able to develop your body image resilience to the point where it becomes a bit more of a reflex when that self-objectification and shame comes up. It doesn't have to be this huge struggle every time. You can hit a low point that isn't as low as it was before and still remember, “Okay, this is when I dig in. This is when I make better choices, I reach out, I look for social support, I journal these feelings, I go to therapy,” whatever it is. There are so many skills, and I’m so grateful to know how it has worked in my life so that I can talk about it to others.

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. Wow. That’s a great place for us to wrap this conversation even though this conversation, I feel like, is one that needs to continue, and I hope that everyone listening will continue this conversation in their circles of influence because it is so ground zero for the impact, for the results, for the reach that we want in all the work that we’re doing.

Lindsay, can you talk about your book, where people can get it, and how people can connect with you and your sister’s work?

Lindsay Kite: Sure! Our book, More Than a Body, is available anywhere you buy books. So, it’s on Amazon or you can get it at Barnes and Noble, and any indie bookshop will order it in for you if they don't already have it. We’re so excited about that. It’s really the greatest opportunity we’ve gotten through 12 years of doing this stuff.


You can find us on Instagram @beauty_redefined. Our website is www.morethanabody.org. That’s probably the best ways to reach us. 

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. Oh, Lindsay, this was a treat. I really, really value this conversation. Thank you for your time. Thank you for showing up in your righteous anger the way that you have. The world is better because of it, and I hear that you're feeling better because of it. So, thank you, again, for your time and for your work.

Lindsay Kite: Thank you so much!

Rebecca Ching: Caring about those you lead really does mean caring how you may be unintentionally harming others. Caring and leading well means treating your body well along with honoring the bodies of all people while taking the time to get the support to continually learn, unlearn, and grow in this arena. Getting support to create systems of feedback, accountability, and oversight may feel like an inconvenience or stifling. But honestly, it will support cultures that are welcoming and valuing all.

Lindsay shared how we can impact systemic and cultural change through building body resilience along with some specific practices that move away from self-objectification and instead towards a deep confidence that is not based on looks and ability, and this means we have to get clear on our own biases around ability, different bodies, and how you define beauty. Ask yourself, “In what ways am I causing harm to others? How am I contributing to cultures of abuse and oppression?” Get curious about your assumptions and biases around beauty, ability, and body size, and take a moment to ask yourself how you feel about your own body, how you feel in it, and now ask the same about how you feel about the bodies of others, and now ask yourself how this all is working for you, and note where you need to build your own body resilience, which moves you away from self-objectification in your own life and also in the spaces you lead.


Let’s join the call Lindsay and her sister Lexie that body anxiety can't be fixed through trying to change your appearance. The real key is building body image resilience by unburdening the body anxiety and biases you carry (we all carry). Instead of creating well-meaning platitudes that remind everybody that they're beautiful as they are, it’s time to dig deeper and develop practices that can get to the root and really help heal the pain of ableism and fatphobia and all body shame, so people will know that they are so much more than a body.

Leading is hard, and leading is also, often, controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can change your confidence, clarity, and calm. Now, I know you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but sometimes the stakes seem higher and can bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action. Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small.

Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights. It is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned.

When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.


[Inspirational Music]

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, and free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to work with me www.rebeccaching.com.


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