Pop-Culture | Posted by Paulina P on 07/18/2014
The Problem With Bethenny Frankel Wearing Her Four-Year-Old’s Pajamas
I did not get rid of my seventh grade wardrobe until my sophomore year of college because I told myself that I would fit back into those tiny excuses one day. Just to clarify, that is a solid seven years of lying to myself.
When I would come back to my childhood home during school breaks, I would get together with my friends and I would attempt to dress myself in my pre-pubescent wardrobe. We would laugh and laugh as I tried to fit both butt cheeks into a pair of tiny short-shorts. And then they would leave. And then I was stuck there, alone with my reality: I was “Fat.”
I did this because I was (and probably still am) slightly sadomasochistic, but also because at the time I could not fully comprehend the reality that I had become bigger — but of course I was. Seven years and puberty had run its delightful course on my body. Even so, I continued to set this trap for myself, time and time again.
Once I got tired of ripping my self-esteem to shreds, I ripped the old clothing out of my closet. Piles and piles of denim mini skirts, tees that had “witty” sayings on them, and fancy dresses laid lifeless on my floor. I was finally free from those pathetic excuses for clothing staring at me from their hangers; they no longer had power over me. I felt free to live in my body, which I had earned just by living in it.
So when I recently saw photos of Bethenny Frankel wearing her four-year-old’s pajamas, I was reminded of my own depressing experience with my own childhood clothing. And I have to say: Bethenny, you are fooling no one.
When your professional title is “Skinny Girl,” of course wearing your child’s pajama set is going to spark controversy. Bethenny Frankel’s fortune grows as she “helps” women get physically smaller. And even though she has admitted to struggling with body image issues and eating disorders, she still has no qualms about exploiting others who struggle with those very same insecurities and mental illnesses for pure economic gain. She blatantly perpetuates the unrealistic standard of beauty that declares that we must all shrink ourselves down to fit into a size considered “beautiful” and “sexy.” Rather than recognizing the issue and realizing that she is perpetuating this cycle, she exacerbates and even profits from a problem that she has admitted affects her personally. Not only is she exploiting other women’s bodies by pushing them towards this unrealistic beauty standard, but she is also exploiting her own body in the hot pursuit of it as well.
Also, what sort of message is she trying to send to her daughter? By posing for this picture, Frankel is teaching her daughter that any changes her body may go through from that point forward are less than ideal. Teaching a child to maintain her toddler-sized body will only set her up for a life plagued by body insecurities. A mother’s word is gospel to a four-year-old, and this one is already being taught that smaller is better, smaller is beautiful, smaller is what she should want.
My brain works primarily in two ways. There is “Anorexic/Bulimic Paulina,” who is no longer a featured player, and there is “Paulina.” As is obvious, the latter is the preferred, healthier version of my mind. When I saw the picture of Bethenny Frankel posing in her four year-old’s clothes today, “Anorexic/Bulimic Paulina” took the spotlight for a total of thirty-two seconds.
Through that lens, I saw myself trying to fit into my seventh grade wardrobe. I thought of the glory I imagined I would have felt if I had been able to fit into those short-shorts at the age of twenty. I remembered the “glory” I did feel when I stepped onto the scale at age sixteen, and discovered that I was two pounds lighter. I remembered the “glory” of being a slave to the scale, wishing to be smaller, thinner, smarter, better, prettier. I remembered the “glory” of being a slave to my eating disorder.
The last time I checked, Bethenny Frankel is not a comedian. Which explains why the caption of her photo — “Think we’re ready to start sharing clothes yet?”– is not very funny. The “glory” I experienced is the “glory” I saw in Ms. Frankel, and why I say: stay out of comedy, Ms. Frankel. You do a better job making a living exploiting body insecurities. And once you realize that you are part of the problem, there are people waiting for you to become part of the solution.