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Personally, I think Maria Kang’s picture and caption is awesome. As someone who wants kids in the near future, I found it entirely motivating and inspiring. The reactions people are going to derive from this is largley based on outlook, and thankfully mine is happy and secure.

Unfortunately, there have been a few themes I’ve noticed in the responses to this seemingly normal wife and mother, and they’ve been harsh, and they’ve been presumptuous. The overwhelming reaction to the above picture seems overly sensitive to me, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s due to peoples’ insecurities.

Or is the overall response indicative of the mindset people hold toward health, obesity and personal accountability in this country?

We need to take ownership of our bodies.

If you choose to be overweight, that is your choice. I don’t hate you for it, I don’t think you’re less of a person, and I doubt Maria Kang does either. But recognize that in the vast majority of situations, it is a choice. I made this choice at one point in my life, most people do. She is not saying you have to look exactly like her. That is an assumption that people are making. Healthy comes in a lot of shapes and sizes.

I am not fit because of genetics. I haven’t always been fit. I haven’t always been healthy. I’m healthy and fit because I work really fucking hard at it. I plan meals, I spend a good portion of my salary on organic food, I prepare, I spend hours every Sunday prepping food for the week, I make dinner every night and along with lunch for the next day all while working two jobs. This isn’t to say I don’t love my food or that I don’t enjoy it (I love to cook), but being healthy requires effort.

We need to take ownership of our emotions.

Did MK really make you feel bad? Someone you have never and most likely will never meet? Someone who has absolutely no bearing on your life? Or do you feel bad because the picture and caption triggered something in you that was uncomfortable?

I’ll tell you something, Maria Kang is more toned and muscular than I am. Did that make me feel bad? Hell no, I don’t put in the work to be as toned as her, and homegirl has three kids! Did I get mad at her over this? Did I assume she is in better shape than me because of genetics? Because she has more time? An easier job? No. She’s more toned and muscular than me because she puts in effort that I do not put in. Simple. Easy. She’s not a terrible person and I don’t feel bad over it. I still have an awesome body, it’s just different. Yours is different too.

Let’s not take everything out of context.

MK is not a rando mom who created the picture to garner attention, to fat shame or put other women down. Let’s use some common sense here.

The woman is a fitness professional!

She started a non-profit fitness organization whose goal is to,

…instill a collaborative effort between students, teachers and parents to engage in fitness activities to improve overall health and physical fitness standards. Our objective is to provide 250-300 students an opportunity to increase their state’s physical fitness tests in strength, endurance and flexibility through before school programs, nutritional workshops and parental participation in FWB’s Leadership Academy.

In a country whose obesity rate is higher than ever, whose adolescent obesity rate has tripled in the last 30 years, shouldn’t we be commending her?

Maria Kang is not thin and fit because of genetics. Genetics are not the defining factor here. She is toned and muscular because she works for it. It is literally her job to motivate and inspire and spread the word about fitness. Why is she being attacked for doing so?

I think everyone should be proud of their body. You don’t need to look like Maria Kang. I don’t. Health comes in all different shapes and sizes. And generally speaking, obesity is not health. Being obese does not make anyone less of a person. It doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t love their body.

I love my body. I’m proud of it. I debated about posting a bikini shot, but here goes:

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We’ve all got excuses, we’ve all got baggage. We are not special butterflies whose lives are tougher than everyone else’s. Everyone has shit to deal with.

My Potential Excuses:

  • I had a rough childhood
  • Everyone in my immediate family is addicted to drugs and I don’t speak to a single one of them
  • I’m poor (I’m not anymore, but I was)
  • I was abused physically, mentally and otherwise as a kid/teen
  • I come from a broken home
  • I had a mother that made me take a cab to the gym every single day after school in 8th grade and wouldn’t pick me up until they closed at 10pm (with no food or money to buy food), because I had a body that was “prone to getting fat”
  • I’ve been on my own since I was 16
  • My family doesn’t love me
  • A shit ton of others

We ALL have excuses. I used to make a lot of them. I used to have a drinking problem. At some point I decided my excuses were bullshit; I decided I was not my excuses, I decided I was worth it. Self-love allowed me to become healthy, it allowed me to care about my body. Self-love, responsibility and effort are how we heal, physically and otherwise.

My intention in writing this is not to hurt feelings, but promote discussion. Whether you agree or disagree, please comment below. I always want to be understanding and compassionate, and I don’t particularly understand the negative responses to this picture.

So, if you disagree with me, let’s talk about it!

4 responses on “In Defense of Maria Kang

  1. Rachel

    I definitely see where you are coming from, but I still think the meme was condescending and shaming. Women beat themselves up enough without such negative messages. Just because her goal is to look that way, doesn’t mean that everyone else must be making “excuses” if they don’t look like her. And, whether she is trying to say we should look like her or not, the image definitely portrays that message 100%. It is an image of HER looking THAT WAY asking “what’s your excuse”. In my opinon, having three children is nothing. That really tells me nothing. They are probably in school or daycare and she can focus on her body. I believe her job would allow for this time spent on herself as well, so even her message to me, is very weak. Her goal isn’t necessarily everyone else’s goal either. Should I ask her “what’s your excuse Maria, for not making crackers and yogurt and every single meal from scratch?”, “what’s your excuse for not homeschooling your children so they can have superior education and upbrining?”. Of course I wouldn’t ask her those questions because those goals are MINE and not hers. I don’t hold her up to my standards, so why should she do the same to me? Now, in conclusion, I’ll say — I have four children and I am a busy person like everyone and I do workout practically every single day. So, no this image didn’t “trigger” me in the sense of what you are suggesting — that it made me uncomfortable because of how I look or what I do. Not in the least. The only “trigger” I felt was sadness that she’s using a negative, comparing, shaming message to try and reach women. And a litte bit of a “trigger” desire to slap her.

  2. Katherine

    Yes, yes, and yes. I find it amazing that some people can accuse her of being judgmental and then judge her in the same breath. I thought the image was sound, and the defensive reaction many have had makes me sad.

  3. Cdonald

    Photoshopping out your stretch marks while sneering “What’s your excuse?” to the world at large is something that is going to produce a backlash. Kang seems to think the people dislike her because she’s beautiful and in shape–but it’s actually because she comes across as narcissistic and unpleasant.
    Also, I’m really dubious about this alleged nonprofit she claims to be the head of–I really like to know its’ name, so I can check it’s filings with the relevant state commission. Nothing in Kang’s blog seems to confirm its’ existence, and she certainly does not have the education and experience necessary run even a small nonprofit. I suspect it’s merely hot air and nothing more–just like Maria Kang.

    1. dani stout Post author

      How do you know the picture was photoshopped?

      Also I am not sure what you mean, the info for the non-profit is directly on her site, there are several links to the non-profit’s site as well, which includes the details on what they do, classes the teach, etc.

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