Bethenny Frankel on Beauty & Body Image: “I Did Not Realize People Are Using Filters”

Bethenny Frankel also serves up the secrets of her latest beverage launch, which she believes could be as popular as Skinnygirl.

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Of all Bravo’s reality TV personalities, Bethenny Frankel is one who went from a Real Housewife to a household name. At 52, Frankel has been a reality star, the author of four self-help books, a podcast host, a philanthropist (as an example, she once chartered planes to Puerto Rico after a disastrous hurricane), and an entrepreneur—most famously as founder of the Skinnygirl cocktails brand, which she sold in 2011.

Now Bethenny’s got a new accolade: Co-founder of the new Forever Young rosé, a female-led wine brand launching with two varietals: Côtes de Provence Rosé and Prestige Rosé Cru Classé Provence. If you follow her pharmacy beauty recommendations on social media, you know Bethenny Frankel is selective about anything she backs. In a recent chat with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest, Frankel told us Forever Young rosé is poised to be another hit.

What you also might know if you follow Frankel is that her outlook hasn’t changed much since she first burst into the spotlight on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New York. There’s nothing she’s afraid to state bluntly, and nothing too tough for her to tackle. Whatever you think of the former chef and event planner’s outspokenness, her success and forthrightness have inspired many women.

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Bethenny Frankel’s new rosé wine

The Healthy @Readers Digest: Congrats on the new launch of Forever Young Rosé! You created it with Valérie Rousselle, the owner of Château Roubine in Provence, France. In the press materials, we read that you both feel the wine embodies things you cherish in life: Quality, beauty, prestige and fun. What made you decide to get into the rosé business?

Bethenny Frankel: Skinnygirl was an amazing invention. It created a new category, and … was the fastest-growing liquor brand in history. And to have invented the skinny margarita, which is ordered worldwide, is pretty amazing and interesting. In my thirties, that solved different problems—that I didn’t want to consume sugar, and you were going out and partying more and you wanted to not have the same hangover. It definitely solved the problem, but it was more functional.

As you get older, you have a different taste level. You’ve seen so many rosés everywhere, and it’s a lot of marketing and branding. To just walk into rosé is no small feat. I feel entitled to walk into spirits because I cracked the code in the industry. People like George Clooney and Randy Gerber have followed in my footsteps. These celebrities used to be afraid to hold a cocktail, so I’m proud of that.

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The Healthy: I don’t even think I ever realized that.

Bethenny Frankel: I remember Justin Timberlake’s manager coming up to me and saying, “He wants to get in because of you.” I feel entitled to be here, but also, I won’t come in unless I’m saying something different. And it is different. It is new, it is fresh, it is stunning. It is so elevated. We have the street cred, we have the winery, I have the female partner. It’s just all so perfect. The number-one most important thing is that the product is extraordinary.

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Bethenny Frankel on healthy aging

The Healthy: So the name is Forever Young, and you seem to have such a healthy attitude about aging. What has been challenging, and what have you enjoyed about growing older?

Bethenny Frankel: What has been hard was just the numbers—that you know the numbers, that you’re aware of the numbers. I have a daughter and I want to be young for her. It’s been great to just accept [it]. I see people, women, so desperately clinging on to youth and doing everything they can, and every gimmick and lying about their age and every filter. It seems there’s a desperation to aging and not allowing it to happen like in fine wine.

I like being older because you have to be comfortable in your own skin and you get to be that dorky aunt. That’s who I am to my daughter’s friends. That’s who I am on social media. I’ve embraced it, I get it. I like prioritizing sleep and travel and food. I like curating my life the way that I want it to be and only doing work that I want to do that’s very liberating. I’m peaceful. I’m level, I’m happy. The highs and lows are not what they used to be, which is positive.

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The Healthy: I’m curious, because you’ve been posting about beauty: How do you feel about the phrase anti-aging? When I hear that, it makes me feel like aging is a bad thing. What is your take is on that?

Bethenny Frankel: It doesn’t even matter. There’s nothing that anyone can do. The truth is that you never feel better than when you had a good night’s sleep, and when you’re hydrating, and when you’re just calm and rested and settled. There’s no cream. I put Nivea on the left side of my face and La Mer on the right. I was more hydrated from the Nivea. I’ve done it all. If you look like you’re 25 on a 55-year-old body—and I know I’m thin, so I’m not in a position to really talk about this—but you see the Ozempic [usage] … everybody looks the same and it’s weird. People should be fit and healthy, but there’s a desperation that is linked to that. I think that’s what’s bothering people.

The Healthy: Healthy means different things for different bodies.

Bethenny Frankel: Right.

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Bethenny Frankel’s beauty routine

The Healthy: What’s one self-care ritual you refuse to skip?

Bethenny Frankel: Consistency, hydration, spray tone, layering spray tone with serums. I have a sheet mask on right now because I flew yesterday, and a neck pillow that has lavender in it. Taking hot baths with epsom salts. It’s old-school just consistency. And hell, I prioritize health over what I look like, so even though I do these makeup videos, I wipe the makeup off right away. I don’t want my hair to be trapped with products to make it look better. I’m pretty natural in the sense that I just like to feel good. I want the mask on, the hydration on. I want the hair to feel healthy and clean. I don’t like all of the extra gunk and buildup and garbage everyone’s putting on top of themselves, and it does affect your skin. Everyone’s pounding this makeup on and no one’s really talking about how it traps your pores, and how brushes are dirty and have bacteria. It’s been fun to help other people, but I have way too much stuff and we don’t need it all.

The Healthy: We really love the beauty budget-busting videos that you’ve been sharing on social that highlight quality and affordability. What inspired you to start those?

Bethenny Frankel: I was on social media and I was thinking, Wait, I still have the same foundation that I’ve had for years and I don’t own any makeup, really. It’s very little. I felt like I was so behind. I did not realize these people are using filters. I did not realize that they were paid. I did not realize that most of the classic things that I had liked from years ago, I still liked. I realized that the drugstore stuff is 90% as good as all the expensive stuff, and it really is just packaging. It’s no different than most handbags or other things where you can buy something inexpensively if you’re not paying for the brand. But there are some brands that are elite and elevated. I just discovered this whole world and started posting without a filter, just my honest opinion.

The Healthy: You recently took your daughter to a Taylor Swift concert, it’s clear you two are close. What’s the most important thing you hope your child learns from you?

Bethenny Frankel: To be comfortable in her own skin, not to be trying to compete with other people, not trying to keep up. She’s very free and I love that she never wears something that makes me think she’s trying to be something she’s not. She’s well adjusted and she’s an unbelievable child.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Laura Lane
Laura is a journalist, comedy writer, podcaster and co-author of two books, which have both been optioned for television. She's spent over a decade covering celebrities, as well as writing about topics including wellness, travel, politics, fashion, food, sports, tech and entertainment. She has written about her own health journey and is deeply passionate about wellness and nutrition.