Bethenny Frankel Just Made an Important Point About Filtered Photos On Instagram

The former reality TV star isn't here to perpetuate "unattainable perfection."

Bethany Frankel
Photo: Getty Images

Bethenny Frankel recently shared two photos of herself wearing a gray bikini on the beach to make a statement about the pitfalls of using filters on social media. The first snap of the 51-year-old former star of The Real Housewives of New York has been edited to make her waist appear smaller, her legs thinner, and her bust fuller. The second shows the same picture without all the edits.

"This is NOT what I look like," she writes in her caption, referencing the first image in the carousel. "This is just how distorted this has all gotten." The reality TV star goes on to call out the negative implications of posting altered images on social media, instructing her followers to "swipe" to see what she really looks like.

"Filtering is lying: It is deceptive. It makes women feel badly about themselves. It makes young girls insecure and obsessed with an unattainable perfection. It makes middle-aged women and mothers feel insecure about themselves," she continues. "This creates a false ideal for men. 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."

Frankel makes some lofty statements in the caption of her post, but she's not wrong. There's no shortage of research that suggests social media use can be detrimental to people's mental health and that using unrealistic filters to edit photos only exacerbates the problem.

For instance, a study from the City University of London conducted in 2020 found that out of 175 young women and nonbinary individuals, 90 percent of participants used filters on their photos posted on social media. Most used photo editing tools to whiten their teeth, even their skin tones, and make themselves appear thinner. Out of the 175 participants, 94 percent reported feeling pressure to look a certain way, and 70 percent felt pressure to put a "perfect life" on display. Notably, 86 percent said their social media posts don't truly reflect their real life.

Another study shows social media users not only experience negative reactions, including body dissatisfaction, from looking at Instagram images of thin- and/or average-sized women, but they also feel poorly after spending time taking and editing selfies. What's more, the Journal of the American Medical Association even identified a new disorder called "Snapchat dsymorphia." It stems from people seeking plastic surgery to look how they do when using filters on apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram.

It's no secret using social media and being exposed to highly edited imagery has negative effects. And one Instagram post from a celebrity (who, it's worth noting, is the founder of a food and beverage brand called Skinnygirl, which idealizes thinness), isn't going to solve these large problems. However, if Frankel gets through to even a handful of her more than two million Instagram followers, then her post is certainly a step in the right direction. (Up next: Lizzo Shared an Unedited Naked Selfie to "Change the Conversation About Beauty Standards")

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