If freelance writer/fitness blogger Maria Kang had simply posted a picture of herself, baring her abs, kneeling behind her three children, it would not have caused a stir. But that photo came with the caption: "What's your excuse?"
As Beth Greenfield writes for Yahoo Shine, the photo went viral and racked up more than 16 million views on Facebook, with more than 12,000 comments. Some of the feedback is positive; a hell of a lot of it is negative. Kang has been called "obnoxious," "desperate for fame," and a bully.
Those three words are the real problem: "What's your excuse?" In response, one woman wrote, "Not that I *NEED* an excuse for not working out, but here's mine you self-righteous idiot: fibromyalgia." Another argued:
I can give you many 'excuses' to why a woman's body does not snap back, or look like yours after having kids. Your comment is not only judgemental it's biasly based on your own specific situation, body type, education, income, etc.... Why would you think that your comment is positive or motivational? Maybe something like - 'You Can!', 'It's Achievable!', 'It's Worth It!', would make more of a statement that appeals to more women without assuming we all are making excuses!
What's my excuse? Cancer. If you really cared to promote health you wouldn't need to be half naked. You can show health by being dressed. The fact you chose attire such as this is that you were promoting appearance.
Kang followed up by posting an apology which she admits is a non-apology; it's also highly antagonizing. It reads thusly:
“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 businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer,” she wrote, in part. “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.”
Oh yeah: Kang is, in addition to being a former pageant queen and fitness competitor, a recovering bulimic. Many of the folks supporting her are telling her to ignore the haters, who are, most likely, "jealous fatties." (One person says: "No need to apologize to the fat slobs out there who don't know how to put down their forks or spoons and get some exercise.")
Anyway! Kang only wanted to inspire people, she tells Shine: "I just hope that the person who feels completely overwhelmed can see they can control their own destiny. To know that there’s no excuse for not making time for yourself." But as one woman on Facebook notes:
Whats my excuse? I dont need one. I have four children, I'm healthy, I'm happy, I have a man who thinks I am hotter than hell even if I am a little overweight..and I enjoy my life and the people in it. I dont choose to spend all my time in the gym, because I just dont enjoy it. There is no law that says you have to look like that to be hot. I'm so tired of society trying to shame people for not being "enough", whether its pretty, thin, rich, smart, whatever. I beat myself up for too many years because I'm 4'10", top heavy and curvy. Short limbs, big muscles. Finally at 43 I can say I am who I am. You are who you are. And just because Im not just like you doesnt mean I have something to be ashamed of.