Bethenny Frankel opened up about her mother's struggle with an eating disorder last season of The Real Housewives of New York City. And yes, as the founder of a company called Skinnygirl, Bethenny said she "totally" sees the irony in that during a recent interview with Aaron Task on his Fortune Unfiltered podcast. "There are no accidents, I guess, right?" Bethenny said. "I think it's actually turning something negative into a positive."
But long before Bethenny found success in food, her family had a complicated relationship with it while she was growing up. “My grandfather would eat All Bran every morning and was obsessive, and there was no option for fat in that house," she explained. “Then my mother was 5’4″ and wanted to be a model and was gorgeous, and my aunt was 6' and wanted to be a jockey. So there's irony there. So my mother was always – it was the Tab and the half a cantaloupe generation, and it was always a diet and there were laxatives around. And there was just obsessiveness. But excessive eating and food was a big, huge part of it.”
Bethenny said she even went to an obesity clinic when she was just 8 years old. "I knew what diets were before any kid ever should," she said. "Suzanne Somers and Atkins and all this nonsense, I think, gave me an education in how ridiculous it all was and how absurd it all is and how the word 'diet' has the word 'die' in it. It's a multi-billion dollar business because diets do not work."
So even though "skinny" is a part of the brand's name, it's not about not eating. Rather, "Skinnygirl is about allowing and indulging," according to Bethenny. "I don't promote people going and eating fat-free foods. I promote them eating a smaller amount of a quality food, of a full-calorie food. I eat pizza, I eat French fries, I just don't binge."
Still, Bethenny, who has often come under public scrutiny for her thin physique, said that one of the questions she gets asked the most is whether or not she eats. “I think being thin is a very, very polarizing thing. I think people get mad at you for it, or it makes themselves feel better if they can just say, ‘Well, she doesn’t eat and she works out every day’ – neither of which are true," she explained. "So the thin thing is a whole tricky situation."
Not only is Bethenny instilling healthy eating habits in her 6-year-old daughter Bryn, but she's also teaching her that it's just as important to surround yourself with healthy language. “If I heard another parent say, ‘Oh my God I’m so fat’ or ‘I was good today’ or ‘I was bad today’ – that kind of talk doesn’t happen in front of my daughter. You are not good if you didn't eat. You are not bad if you ate," Bethenny said. “There’s no word ‘diet’ – there's nothing like that. Because even though she’s only 6, kids hear their moms say, 'Oh my God, I look so fat in these jeans or I was bad.' There’s trigger words that people should not be talking about. So there's a healthy environment in my house."
Watch Bethenny open up about where things stand with her mother today during last season's RHONY reunion, below.