No doubt many moms may envy reality show star and businesswoman Bethenny Frankel’s ability to fit her slender form into her 4-year-old daughter’s Hello Kitty nightwear. The bad fit is a parent modeling poor body image messages and weak selfie judgment.
Ms. Frankel has a trim form, but I don’t envy her child who has to be the one whose mom once posed in itty-bitty kittywear.
While I am at the end of the parental spectrum where I often feel the need to course correct one of my teens about what he posts on social media, I suddenly find a fellow parent making the very selfie error I have warned my kids against.
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” and “Don’t post anything online that can come back to haunt you or your family,” are the dual family rules at our house that apply to Frankel’s choices.
Yes, you can wear your 4-year-old child’s clothing.
No, you should probably not post that picture on Instagram for the whole world to see and for your daughter’s friends to taunt her about.
Frankel, who is behind the “Skinny Girl” brand of beverages and books, has made herself the poster girl for the waif look, from which so many moms try to shield their daughters.
As parents, we are tired of coping with body image issues, bullying, and other negatives that spring from the constant barrage of images of unrealistically thin bodies in itty-bitty inappropriate clothing.
Frankel in her Hello Kitty kit was a lit match in a gasoline stockpile and today she’s paying the price through much of the backlash she has received from her Instagram followers and others.
However, my concern is more about how important it is for parents to use this mismatched fashion moment to think about what we post on social media from the perspective of how it might affect our kids.
By the time our kids are age 4, most non-celebrity parents have vacated their base of operations in the “It’s all about me” zone.
We have seen time and again that celebrities have a much steeper learning curve on this one.
Sure we continue to seek success and personal achievement after becoming parents.
The challenge becomes realizing, and remaining conscious of, the fact that the personal choices we make impact our kids.
While every parent needs some “me time,” we can’t compartmentalize what we do during that time completely.
And could we imagine a male celebrity – one not known for modeling skills – like The Daily Show’s John Stewart, posing in his son Nathan’s Underoos?
For the record, that is not a challenge. Nobody needs to see that.
Even Brad Pitt or Will Smith posing in their son’s jammies would be more creepy than cool, due to the unsettling juxtaposition of an adult in child’s clothing.
This is beyond the typical “I got my body back” post-childbirth selfie.
While most moms I know exit the selfie stage early on, a few begin to pose poorly and with renewed fervor as their kids age.
Every child’s birthday is another one under the parental belt and Frankel apparently is showing that the belt’s still a size x-small.
The disconnect comes when parents like Frankel fail to realize that when a child reaches age 4, they are past the stage of being eating, weeping, pooping machines, and have become sentient little beings affected by what we say, do, and post on social media.
If your child is past the stage of just repeating everything you say to company and has begun to report everything others say back to you, it’s time to be careful about what you post online.
I don’t condemn Frankel for posting a silly picture or fishing for compliments. Her choices gave us all the opportunity to take a look in the mirror and remind ourselves that we want our kids to grow into our shoes, not diminish our parenting heft by trying to squeeze into theirs.