By now, you’ve probably seen this photo and heard about the backlash the young woman in the photo, Maria Kang, has received . In case you haven’t, in a nutshell, the blogger, mother of three and self proclaimed “Asian Fitness Mom and Social Entrepreneur” posted the photo on her Facebook page, ostensibly to inspire other women with the message that “If I can do it, so can you.”. But the catch phrase that accompanied it was very much open to interpretation. Some saw the oft used sport catch phrase as motivational, while many more considered it a form of bullying and fat shaming.
In a non-apology issued yesterday, Kang said:
“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.”
Appearing on the Today Show this morning, she clarified that despite reports that she is a fitness trainer, that was ten years ago and now she works for a fitness non profit. Claiming that most people took a positive message away from the viral controversy, she stressed that she made fitness a priority in her busy life – a statement that stirred emotions on the parts of busy moms everywhere who argued that such priorities are not afforded to every woman and that the tone of the statement was judgmental.
Fat shaming? Bullying? I think that’s taking the discussion a bit too far. Yes, the bold statement “What’s Your Excuse” could be easily misconstrued by those who aren’t familiar with the catch phrase and yes, the image sort of reeks of self aggrandizing pompousness. But what if she really was just trying to motivate and inspire? Sure, she could have chosen a phrase with less likelihood of being interpreted negatively, but why did so many people take the image as a personal attack? Why the defensiveness toward a woman who’s apparent intention was to impact other women positively? Is it because the image and statement are an uncomfortable reminder of choices and priorities that we ourselves have made which have led us down different and sometimes less six packed paths? I know I immediately wondered what this smug bitch would have had up her sleeve had she chosen to cover her well chiseled arm with one.
But in the end, I realize that my priority is to choke down a miserable cardboard flavored muesli while sitting on my fat ass typing this column and that my underused gym membership awaits the next occasion I deign to make it a priority and grace it with my presence.
Until then, as uncomfortable as this self actualized, cute, perky, well intentioned as she is proportioned Asian Fitness Mom and Social Entrepreneur is gonna go on with her bad self and I think the best path of resistance training would be to get over myself and heed her advice in whatever capacity my lifestyle affords.