UVU women urged to redefine beauty at leadership conference

Dr. Lexi and Dr. Lindsey Kite

Jeanette Blain | Staff Writer | @JeanetteBlain

 

Jan. 29, UVU hosted “Beauty Redefined: The Impact of Body Image on Women’s Confidence and Influence” in the Sorensen Center’s Ragan Theatre. This was the third event in the popular Women’s Leadership Speaker and Dialogue Series produced by the Utah Women and Leadership Project.

According to the event MC and UVU professor, Dr. Susan Madsen, over 600 people attended, causing two overflow rooms to be used.

Photo credit Jeanette Blaine
Dr. Susan Madsen

The night was opened with a welcome by Janette Hales Beckham, former member of the Utah House of Representatives, who shared personal stories and encouraging advice for women.

“You don’t have to have a title to be a leader,” Beckham said.

The stage was then turned over to Dr. Lexie Kite and Dr. Lindsay Kite of the Beauty Redefined Foundation. The twin sisters established the foundation in 2009 as a way to encourage women to think differently about body image and self-worth. It is dedicated to helping girls and women learn to find their own power and counteract negative cultural messages.

The Kites shared with the audience stories of their own body image struggles along with a visual presentation of their research on how media images affect women’s self-perceptions. Media images, they say, are manipulated to produce an “ideal” look that most women can’t achieve. This can cause body shame issues, which often stop women from becoming the best that they can be.

Lexie Kite said women are told from every angle that “you get to do whatever you want, but you better look good doing it, or it doesn’t count.”

Body image resilience is the key to developing a healthier sense of self-worth. The four strategies to building this resilience are mental might, physical fortitude, spiritual strength and social skillfulness, said the Kites.

The Kites believe that when women see their bodies for what they can do, instead of what they look like, they become happier with their lives overall.

They ended their speech with a challenge for women to unite and support each other in building more positive ideas about what beauty should be.

After the presentation, participants were invited to move to the overflow rooms for the dialogue portion of the event. A buffet of light refreshments greeted attendees as they met to discuss their thoughts.

Kris Farnsworth, an academic advisor at UVU, advises 400-500 students depending on the semester.

She said she was inspired by the presentation and asked herself, “How can I empower the men and women I work with?”

“Most of what I do is with women; so all of this matters,” said Keeley Xie, UVU nursing student, who was actively engaged in a discussion with women at her table.

“Awareness changes everything. Just becoming aware is so powerful,” said another attendee, Annie Blake.

The event was sponsored by The Woodbury School of Business, UVU Women’s Success Center, YWCA of Utah, Girls Scouts of Utah, Utah Women’s Giving Circle, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, Wheeler Equipment Company, Squire and Beauty Redefined Foundation.

 

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