SALT LAKE CITY, April 23, 2013—Twin sisters from Utah have declared war on Big Beauty and the popular media that objectifies women.
Lexie and Lindsay Kite inhabit three distinct worlds. As entrepreneurs, scholars, and crusaders, they have found a way to bring all the resources from each to battle the stereotypical imagery and messages that promote unhealthy attitudes and behaviors among women.
The 27-year old sisters started Beauty Redefined, a non-profit organization dedicated to “rethinking our ideas of “beautiful” and “healthy” that we’ve likely learned from for-profit media that thrives off female insecurity.”
It is a growing enterprise. Among their products are Beauty Redefined “sticky notes:” simple pads of adhesive notes with messages that counter harmful media narratives. For instance, notes in mirror frames declare, “You are capable of much more than looking hot,” and, “Your reflection does not define your worth.”
They have sold about 1500 units. Customers have posted to the BR Facebook page pictorial evidence of the sticky notes placed strategically on offending magazines.
Facebook, of course, is a major outlet for BR messaging, and a metric of the entrepreneurship of the Kite sisters. With nearly 12,000 likes, the young non-profit has grown over 100% in the last year, gaining attention quickly, thanks to the creative energy of the women. Snappy posts, relevant research, clean and attractive graphic design, interaction with users, and disciplined and consistent messaging all contribute to growth in the social media world.
But BR’s main products are Lindsay and Lexie, who travel around the country to deliver lectures and presentations to groups of women, teaching them everything from the evolution of beauty ideals in the US since 1950, to the harmful effects of pornography on both sexes.
Their usual audiences are faith communities, young girls groups like the Girl Scouts, junior highs, high schools, and college campuses.
“We’ll do this non-profit full time and try to get as many speaking engagements as possible,” says Lexie. “We’ve put a lot of our lives on hold,“ adds Lindsay, noting that they’ve spent the last decade in school
A Scholarly Duo
It will become a career for both of them, most likely, something they both need to worry about right now. Lexie and Lindsay each will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in communication from the University of Utah in just two weeks.
They are already renowned scholars in their own right; as doctoral candidates, they have presented multiple papers at major academic conferences. Lexie won a top paper award in 2011 at the National Communication Association annual conference, and with another paper at the Western Communication Association.
Lindsay’s dissertation is titled, “Healthy Media Literacy: Bridging Critical Health and Media Literacy to Promote Positive Body Image and Physical Health.”
They are serious researchers with a passion that they have cultivated since they were undergraduates.
“Our freshman year in college we took different sections of the same class…about how women are portrayed in media,” recalls Lindsay. “I had this heart-beating-fast feeling…it made me super mad, and I knew I had to fight back.”
As it turned out, Lexie was having the same experience. They both decided to go to graduate school to continue studying media effects and feminism, not telling each other where they were applying. As if to validate every urban legend about twins, they were both accepted to Utah’s master’s program.
When they began doctoral work soon thereafter, they coauthored a presentation that ultimately became the BR campaign.
Now these scholar-entrepreneurs urge women all over the world to “join the fight to take back beauty!”
One of their chief adversaries is Victoria’s Secret. “They profit $5 billion a year off of a faux empowerment that they sell to women and teenage girls,” says Lexie with a steely righteousness. “They say they are in business to help women feel better about themselves,” adds Lindsay, “Yet if you look at every image they put out there you know that theirs is not for women to feel good about themselves. It makes women feel ashamed and fixated on their bodies. They prey on insecurities.”
And BR is fighting back.
Outgunned and outmatched, the Kite twins aren’t backing down. “People have come in droves. They are starving for this kind of information,” they say.
It is an information war, after all. And these soon-to-be Ph.D.s will be a force to contend with for a long time.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
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