POLL: Maria Kang, the photo and the controversy: Fit mom inspiration, or fat shaming?

Maria Kang, her three children and a message.

Maria Kang, her three children and a message.

There’s a good chance you’ve seen the photo above: A young woman with an exceptional physique, pictured with her three children, all 3 years old or younger.

And the message: “What’s your excuse?”

Maria Kang is a fitness model, business owner, blogger and a mom. The photo she published on her Facebook page went viral and the reaction was strong.

Some people praised her for illustrating that you can be a busy mom and a new mom and still bounce back to peak condition.

Others accused her of “fat shaming,” or basically using her accomplishments as a negative reinforcement to motivate women who, after childbirth, have lost their pre-baby figure and don’t look anything like her.

Pregnancy and childbirth alters a woman’s physique. That much we know. We also know that every person’s physique is changeable.

However, it’s important to note that every person is different. Yes, personal choices in terms of what you eat, how you move and so forth make a difference in how fit you are. But there are other factors. Genetics can play a role. Life schedules, too. And let’s not forget, eating healthy often means spending more on foods that are good for you. If you have limited means, cheaper, less nutritious food may be your only option, and that option may not be helpful in terms of losing baby weight.

There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter formula to looking like Ms. Kang because most people’s lives vary wildly from hers.

I’ve heard the argument that the obsession with losing baby weight has, in itself, become a problem given that many mothers have enough on their plate as it is without having to worry about regaining that pre-baby body.

Lastly, the overall issue of body image comes into play.

I don’t want to dump on Maria Kang. She’s had some success in the fitness world because, I am quite sure, she has worked very hard. It takes planning, discipline and hard work to maintain a magazine cover-worthy physique. But is her photo a case of rubbing people’s noses in it?

So I ask you: Is this message inspirational, or is it fat shaming? Take the poll, and feel free to comment.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

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17 thoughts on “POLL: Maria Kang, the photo and the controversy: Fit mom inspiration, or fat shaming?

      • Sure, a lot of people use the excuse that they can’t workout because they have kids and don’t have time. Heck, I’ve used that excuse a lot myself. The fact of the matter is I did have time. I had time that I was Facebooking, I had time that I was watching TV, etc. etc. My opinion was that her intent was to show that she has three kids, three young kids, and she doesn’t use them for an excuse to not work out.

      • This is true. The results of her efforts to speak for themselves. I’d like to think that folks need to understand that everyone’s situation is different, though. It would seem that most people who have responded to this here and on FB/Twitter are OK with it, even if the “message” is a tad douchey.

  1. It’s unintentional fat shaming, in my opinion. What I mean is, I would guess this whole “What’s your excuse?” message stems from Ms. Kang’s unquestioned assumption that *all* women want to be as fit as she is, because that’s the “best” way women can look in our culture. And yes, there are a LOT of problems with the unexamined sociological/culture norms wrapped up in that point of view. And yes, it was hurtful to many of the women who saw it.

    But… I still chose the “chill out” option because as shallow and – frankly – obnoxious as the image and comment are, I think smarter women who are self-aware about body image can find bigger fish to fry in more constructive ways. It’s good to a degree that there’s noise being made about this example, because any noise for the body-positive movement is good… but I personally just couldn’t get too riled up in this case. Perhaps it’s because I think Ms. Kang is merely a rather thoughtless player in a bigger social game than an aggressor who’s intentionally trying to fat-shame women. I originally just flipped by the image with the thought, “Don’t need an excuse. You’re an idiot. Moving on.”

  2. The only thing I see in that picture is someone who is proud of her body and thinking that if she can do it anyone can. But the “What’s your excuse?” caption is egotistical and could be taken in a bad way by people who don’t have the options she has to get fit. As a resident fat girl who is trying to get into shape again I do not take offence in any way. She is proud and she has the right to be. I just figured that she needs to learn how to motivate people without being so self absorbed and borderline rude. Cheeseburgers did not make me fat, being disabled, having a non functioning thyroid, steroids, and my whole list of issues did. I don’t use it as an excuse. it just is what it is. I do what i can to work around and past my issues and that is it. And in her “apology” if that’s what we are going to call it she just sounded even more rude and uneducated to the fact that everyone is different.
    I don’t think she intended to hurt people in any way. Just a case of foot in mouth syndrome. We all have our moments,

  3. I don’t really have an issue one way or the other with the image, she has every right to be proud of the work she’s put in. But the link and website makes it look like she’s in the fitness industry, which has a bad track record of “motivating” to get people to spend too much on overpriced and unnecessary fitness products. So it sort of falls into the realm of a doctor’s office that advertises a new unnecessary medical treatment by playing off the fears of the consumer. Maybe it helps someone, but it represents a sleazy strategy to me.

    As for its’ effect on the consumer, I think the fitness industry as a whole needs fewer motivational posters and more sensible messages. Images like this don’t really do anything that the thousands of other “motivational” posters can’t do, and it’d be more effective for the message to be more like “I get this on an hour a day” than “You have no excuse you fatty.”

  4. Women who don’t like it, or are catty is the very reason why it is so hard to find a good woman.

    I have stopped looking.

    We all make excuses.

    She was dead on with that poster.

  5. What is Maria Kang’s excuse for using photoshop to get rid of her cellulite and stretchmarks (which is NATURAL and COMMON for most mothers unless they have “super genes”)? Is she that INSECURE to show of what is NATURAL to mothers?

    Her use of photoshops, invalidates the claim for “inspiration”.

    Had her picture been in a dining room with whole and healthy foods with her family, then that would be inspirational. After all, healthy is 80% DIET, 20% exercise, not otherwise.

    I am a healthy twenty something lady, I workout 30 mins every other day at home, I run 2 miles on weekends, I eat mostly whole foods and I hardly drink soda but still, I don’t think that photo is even inspiring.

    I don’t think the intention is fat shaming, but surely the intention is not to inspire either but more of attention seeking “look at me, I’m so hot and photoshopped”.

    • I think the irritation comes from her lack of honesty. Photoshop, spray tans/tanning lotions (in her non-photoshopped and non-pro images, she has the typical East Asian skintone). Unless, she puts up a poster that is not photoshopped -as in how she would look in a simple phone camera, her claim to be an inspiration is not the truth

    • I don’t know for certain if the photo was altered (though if it was, I would not be surprised), but I agree with your point about inspiration. Surely she is a fit woman, but this whole thing seems to have the air of seeking attention. I’m impressed with what she has done in light of having 3 kids, holding down full-time work, etc., but she may have missed the mark for inspiration for most women. Thanks for your input!

      • From what I gather it is common for fitness models to use spray tans to “emphasize” on muscle definition. I’ve seen some of her non-professional pics and while she does not look bad, it’s not as “perfect” as the way she looks in photos. In fact, I thought there was really nothing special about her physique. I’ve seen a lot of moms who share the same physique like her non-photoshop pics.

        Actually, when I read her “resume”, I was not surprised with her attitude. She’s just been in numerous “beauty pageants”.

        She should not really feel *so* special. While many are obese, there are those who are not. It’s just that they don’t parade themselves like she does nor taunt others. I have an obese coworker. She is not lazy(in fact, I think she is dedicated and hardworking) as many people perceive them to be. She tend though to eat many empty calorie foods. She said to me she doesn’t want to get any fatter. I told her that she can get healthier by minimizing processed food. She inquired about gyms and she just cannot afford it. And I’m happy that she’s doing it slowly. She recently posted a watermelon juice “from scratch” on her Instagram.

        I think for most part the obesity problem is more rooted on lack of ignorance. If more people are educated on how we accumulate excess fat, I think obesity would be less of a problem than it is today. This is why, although I’m not a believer of “Health in Every Size”, I don’t think taunting obese people will help. Informing them in a non-abrasive and non self righteous manner will.

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