Editing photos for social media is as routine as brushing our teeth these days, or so it seems. But beyond brightening images and adjusting the saturation is the damaging practice of filtering and Photoshopping photos to present a false image to followers—something Bethenny Frankel is calling out in a powerful way.
In her latest Instagram post, the former Real Housewife shared before-and-after bikini photos to show just how easy it is to edit and completely alter your appearance. While photo filter apps are seemingly more popular than ever, it's crucial to acknowledge the harm these filters cause to our collective self-esteem. And that's just what Frankel does.
"This is NOT what I look like…and you know that bc I’m not vain and show you the real me," Frankel writes in the caption of her photo series. "But if I posted a version of this every day you might start to believe that it might be. This is just how distorted this has all gotten."
In Bethenny Frankel's first photo, you can see her boobs are somehow magically resting directly below her neck, her waist is as narrow as a Victorian-era, whalebone corset-wearing socialite's waist, her face is smooth and her lips are plump and her legs don't look a day over 18.
In the second photo, she looks absolutely amazing. But she looks like herself. She's a thin, fit woman of a certain age and privileged means, yes, but she's never shied away from aging or being herself.
"Filtering is lying: it is deceptive. It makes women feel badly about themselves," Frankel continues. "It makes young girls insecure and obsessed with an unattainable perfection. It makes middle-aged women and mothers feel insecure about themselves. This creates a false ideal for men."
One can argue that there's nothing wrong with using a little filter here and there or some light editing to make yourself feel good about the photos you post. One can also argue that the only reason we feel compelled to do this is because of society's unrealistic beauty standards (perpetuated by the existence of these filters, ironically) and the patriarchy.
A recent Instagram reel showing just how easy it is to filter your appearance in a video went viral, largely in part because it's crazy how real these totally un-real versions of people can look. It's startling.
Bethenny Frankel sums it all up perfectly—there's nothing empowering about pretending to be anything other than who we are, particularly for those who have a huge following or an impressionable fan base.
"It’s the opposite of inspirational. It’s destructive. It’s irresponsible. It’s insecure and it’s inaccurate. There is a line between making an effort to look pretty and an outright falsehood."