Photo: Mike Byerly - via Maria Kang's official website
Thirty-two-year-old mother of three little boys and fitness enthusiast Maria Kang posted that photo above, featuring herself (and her washboard abs) with the caption "What's Your Excuse?"
Since she posted it on Facebook, Kang's photo has gone viral. It has garnered more than 16 million views and over 30,000 comments - most of which are positive "You go, girl" type. But some people took offense and called Kang a bully for "fat-shaming" women. Some even called her a "bad mother," accusing her of spending more time exercising rather than caring for her children.
To which, Kang replied in this (not-so-apologetic) apology:
I'm sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won't go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business', have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. I won't even mention how I didn't give into cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my growing belly as an excuse to be inactive.
What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It's Yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn't create them. You created them. So if you want to continue 'hating' this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life. You can either blame, complain or obtain a new level of thought by challenging the negative words that come out of your own brain.
With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a 'bigger' issue than this photo. Maybe it's time we stop tip-toeing around people's feelings and get to the point. So What's Your Excuse? - Maria Kang
As a recovering bulimic, Kang said that she understood why people are so defensive when it comes to their weight. She told Yahoo! Shine, "I think people struggle with their weight. When you add on being a mother - and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit - the expectations are so high. I think some moms saw the picture and just said, 'This is ridiculous.'"
But body image IS a big deal (exhibit A: the hullabaloo over Barbie's shape), so is Kang's "What's Your Excuse" photo is a case of fat-shaming? Or did she do the right thing by challenging people to exercise and take better care of themselves?