Let me be completely honest: I loved Bethenny. I loved her no-bullshit attitude on Real Housewives. I loved her say-it-like-it-is demeanor. I loved that she told Jill to suck it. I loved that she built a Skinnygirl empire off a low-cal dream. I loved that she snagged a successful spin-off with Bethenny Ever After. I loved that she bares all and invites the public into her therapy sessions. I loved that she overcame a challenging childhood and “made it.” I loved that she’s a fragile butterfly and a raging pit bull at the same time. I loved that she shared her crazy with all of us.
But now I’m over it.
My rose-colored glasses fell off last night as I followed her self-promotional Twitter feed while watching the latest episode of Bethenny Ever After (Don’t judge. I told you I loved her…).
This woman isn’t a champion for strength. She’s a champion for the unyielding quest for fame and notoriety. She admits this about herself, which is a savvy way to undercut any criticism of her. But here’s the thing. She’s evil hiding in plain sight. She’s a crack addict selling drugs on the corner at noon on a Sunday. It’s so obvious that nobody notices. But the hypocrisy to which I was once blind – I now see!
She’s a skinny girl – a WAY TOO skinny girl – selling low-calorie alcohol, diet books, cleansing plans, “smoothing” undergarments and workout videos to a public terrified of fat. (Click here and you could be a skinny girl too!) She’s the beautiful queen bee in high school telling the wannabes they could lose 10 lbs and be cool – just like her! – if they copied her every move. And we’re all falling for it. Again!
Now, I know better than to accuse someone I don’t know of having an eating disorder. Obviously I don’t know Bethenny outside of the seemingly quite candid information she offers up at every turn. Some people are, to use the title of her book, Naturally Thin. But she’s also admitted to suffering from intense pressure to be skinny as a child, wanting nothing more than to be thin like her mom — to feeling, well, fat. It wouldn’t be outlandish to think that she could have a confused relationship with food.
If she were doing anything other than overtly offering herself up as a nutrition expert — Moses guiding women to the promised land of thin — it’d be irrelevant whether her shoulder blades cut through her dress, her collar bones interfered with her necklaces, or her head was severely out of proportion to her body. But she’s positioning herself as (a) a source of information on weight loss and (b) the result we should all aspire to achieve.
It’s a reckless use of celebrity.
I give her credit, in some ways, for identifying and taking advantage of our glaring idiocy and indiscriminate consumption of “she’s just like me, but famous” entertainment to make a buck. But she’s manipulating women – and many of us don’t even realize. The audacity to walk around in tank tops with “Skinny Girl” across her chest and put her tiny body on the cover of a book titled Naturally Thin just boggles my little mind. But we’re loving it! And we’ve got to stop.
In many ways I’m proud of you, Bethenny. You’re a smart, driven woman – not ashamed to speak your mind and confront your life head on. You “have it all” and you’re honest about how miserable that can be. But you have an adoring public at your boney fingertips and you’re dangling a forbidden fruit in front of us.
Please use your powers for good! Not skinny evil.