Skinny Girl: Hypocrisy or Smart Marketing?

Let me state up front that I love Bethenny Frankel. I find her hilarious and neurotic and adorable and snarky all at the same time. I admire her work ethic and am impressed by the success she’s single-handedly amassed.  She’s pretty much the cat’s meow in my opinion.

So you could say I was a little more than disturbed about how contradictory her cover story in Us Weekly is compared to her “healthy lifestyle” SkinnyGirl line of beverages and books.

In the article she confesses to being obsessed with dieting and admitted to a past exercise addiction. Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her admitting these things; she’s human after all! And I can empathize with her quest for thinness … she’s an American woman and it’s ingrained in our psyches to look a certain way (however wrong that is).

It just seems hypocritical to me that, after all her struggles, she could then go and title her line “Skinny Girl.” I mean, really! I understand the marketing and advertising business; I work within it. But as a brand, it just rubs me the wrong way now that I know how struggles and how she still chose to name it “Skinny Girl” — claiming (in interviews) that it’s really about unleashing the skinny girl within. OK … but what’s wrong with NOT being a “skinny girl” and just being, well, a girl?

That adjective — “skinny” — is a loaded one. To the pro-ana sector, it’s the be-all, end-all …  To the dieting sector, it’s a sought-after goal. To little girls everywhere … it’s the way they “should” be. (Not really, but that’s the message they get in the media and possibly from women in their lives.)

I’m sure Bethenny is smart enough to realize the backlash these revelations might cause; maybe she knows it won’t matter — sales will still be strong either way. But for people like me, who hear the word “skinny” and cringe … well, I guess I don’t have to tell you that her books don’t –and won’t–adorn my bookshelves.

I might love Bethenny the person … but it’s hard to stomach her product line … especially now.

How about you? Was anyone else surprised by her admissions, or think it’s a bit hypocritical to name her product line “Skinny Girl”?

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4 thoughts on “Skinny Girl: Hypocrisy or Smart Marketing?

  1. Lissa,

    I was thinking the exact same things as I read that article in Us. I’ve always felt this about her. She came on the “scene,” wrote a bunch of stuff about how to be thin/cookbooks/exercise/etc, all the while talking about disordered eating and exercise issues. Yes, I appreciate that she’s real, but I don’t appreciate the feeling like she’s banking on it all at the possible expense of others who might idolize her or romanticize the issues. I have compassion for her struggles, but confusion over how she shares her details (weight and how much food she did/didn’t eat) like it is some kindof contest or justification to “how bad it was.”

    Eating disorders are not in a million years worth being famous for a book, reality show, or in a magazine, but that is the impression I get from BF. Yes, I agree, hypocritical.

  2. I think it’s a publicity ploy – she’s been out of the media lately and her publicists know that EDs get magazine covers. I’m not trying to belittle her struggles, but with celebrities, it’s impossible to know what’s “real” and what is part of their “brand” if that makes sense. On that note, though, have you read Portia DeRossi’s book? That felt sincere to me and I really enjoyed it!

  3. I second that about Portia’s book…read it last month and it was terrific.

    I wish Bethany would name her products something else…I don’t really like the “Skinny Girl” name and its connotations.

  4. LOVED this post, Melissa! I agree with everything you said: I struggle because I think Bethenny is hilarious and am pretty stoked about her show starting up again. 🙂 However, I read her book “Naturally Thin” last summer and was perturbed. IMO, there were definitely some tips in there that could be questioned as disordered eating.

    But what I agree with the most is the misuse of the term “skinny.” Skinny, to me, doesn’t equal healthy. In fact often times it can mean the exact opposite. What about “Healthy Girl”?

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