When you read any article about Bethenny Frankel (and there are many), it inevitably includes descriptors like “reality TV personality,” “former RHONY star,” “entrepreneur,” “mogul,” “Skinnygirl creator,” “divorcee,” and finally somewhere towards the end of a long list of hyphenates, the word “mother.”
As a mom with a daughter, I’d love to see the word “mother” come first on the list — just once — but it never does. Media is media and hype is hype, and being a mom isn’t what makes Bethenny a tabloid regular… until recently.
Back in July, the 43-year-old mom posted a now-infamous Instagram shot of herself wearing her 4-year-old daughter Brynn’s Hello Kitty nightgown as a T-shirt. According to Bethenny, it was intended to be funny — a joke, no big deal. But anything that gets posted to millions of people online quickly exits the realm of “light-hearted mother-daughter moment” and becomes “social media sensation.”
When the story broke this summer, I wrote about it expressing my concern not over the fact that a skinny woman was sporting size four kid’s clothing, but that she was sharing what should have been a private moment in a very public way. Bethenny has long been fodder for the tabloids, but now thanks to this Instagram, her young daughter was, too. The post generated over 600 comments ranging from outraged to okay-with-it.
One person who was clearly not okay with it was Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer. This past week, Gesmer presided over a court session involving Frankel and embittered ex-husband, Jason Hoppy. The two have been fighting over custody and finances for nearly two years in a nasty battle that’s gotten plenty of press. But this week, it was the infamous Instagram that once again took center stage.
Judge Gesmer voiced her disgust over the image and went one step further, officially ordering Bethenny: “No more pajamas!” I’ll admit, I didn’t know a judge’s jurisdiction covered sleepwear, but apparently it does!
Frankel’s lawyer, Allan Mayefsky, followed with the expected retort saying the image was “done as a joke.” Apparently that didn’t float with Gesmer who replied: “It’s not a joke. Her child is not a joke.”
I agree with the judge’s sentiment and applaud her for making an official (public) reprimand that may force Bethenny to think twice before she shares things about her daughter in the future. Then again, don’t our courts have better things to worry about than what Bethenny Frankel is wearing??
The most potent part of Gesmer’s message came when she pointed out that the questionable photo will live on the Internet for many years to come. For me, that’s where we get to the heart of the matter.
Forget the media. Forget the hype. It’s this simple. MOMS: DO NOT USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PUBLICIZE YOUR KIDS. EVER.
I don’t care what Bethenny Frankel wears. Did she exercise poor judgment when she posted the photo? Yes. Did she do something that will someday embarrass her daughter? Yes. Does she need a wakeup call of some kind? Yes.
The same could perhaps be said about many moms, but despite all their faults, they just don’t share all those private moments on Instagram. On this debate, my “jury of one” sides with the honorable Judge.
Bethenny, you are a mother before anything else. Think before you post.