Dr. Lindsay Kite visited my class last week. She runs a nonprofit called Beauty Redefined with her twin sister, Dr. Lexie Kite. The twin PhDs message is simple: “You are capable of much more than looking hot.”
I’ve heard the twins’ presentation three times. I have a PhD too. You’d think I might be more immune to society’s body image chatter. But I’m not. I’m still working on it.
Dr. Brene Brown, who researches vulnerability and shame, cites that the #1 area of shame for women is body image. For men, it’s being strong.
Let me break it down: Women fear being fat and ugly, and men fear being weak.
Ugh, people. All that pressure to be hot and strong. It’s a lot.
OK, now time to put on your bathing suit.
When Lindsay presents, she tells a personal story about being a competitive swimmer as a kid. Then, as she grew up, she stopped wearing a bathing suit and swimming for years because she was trying to hide her body.
This story always gets me, because if it’s not wearing a bathing suit in public, it’s stories from friends (including me) about wearing shorts or tank tops, or all the people who avoid the gym or yoga classes because they will shake and sweat in public.
Here’s the truth: Media representations of beauty and strength are NOT REAL. They are CGI’ed and Photoshopped and unattainable.
We know this, right? Right???
Real people have real bodies that are capable of so much more than looking hot.
- Let’s reframe shaking and sweating in the gym as getting stronger.
- Let’s compliment women on their skills and abilities.
- Let’s compliment men on their vulnerability and kindness.
Let’s imagine a warm, sultry night. Put on your bathing suit (or not) with a deep gratitude that you have a body that can swim. Stretch out into the water, lay back, and take in a midnight sky full of stars of different shapes, sizes, and constellations.
Float in that freedom. Listen to the world around you.
Oh, baby. Natural beauty.
We are capable of so much more than tending to our appearance. Open your mind and your life to possibility. Start taking action towards your dreams in this beautiful world around you.
That, my friends, is what’s really hot.