I was trying to avoid this story, but damn it, after it showed up on Yahoo! Shine and Good Morning America, and my very own FB page… sigh.
I’ll share my thoughts, but you probably won’t like them.
From Yahoo! Shine:
In the photo, seen [above], 32-year-old Maria Kang poses in a workout bra and matching micro shorts — revealing an incredibly toned figure with washboard abs — while surrounded by her three young sons, now 1, 3 and 4. Floating above her head is the question, “What’s your excuse?” The picture has gone viral, with more than 16 million views on Facebook, and has generated more than 12,000 comments. And while much of the input has been of the supportive “you go, girl” variety, plenty of it has been made up of angry, offended personal attacks on the photo subject, calling her everything from “obnoxious” and “fake” to a bad mom and a bully.
But Kang, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Shine, says that making other women feel bad about themselves is the opposite of what she was going for.
“I wanted to inspire people,” she explains, adding that the “What’s your excuse?” part was simply a borrowed, popular phrase that’s been used in various “fitspiration” campaigns. “I wanted to say, ‘I know you think you don’t have time if you have kids. But if I can do it, you can do it, too.’” [source]
From Maria’s own FB page:
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?
A couple of the comments from said post?
My “excuse”? I don’t need an excuse to be who I am. Anyone who asks me what my excuse is, needs an excuse for assuming they have a right to judge me over their ideals. You want your body to be in what you consider a perfect shape? Fine by me. But what you consider a perfect shape is not the standard on perfect shapes. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do tastes. So rather than telling you “my excuse” for not looking the way you think I should look, I’ll instead ask you what your excuse is for being so self-centered that you think your standard of what is beautiful should be applied to everyone else. And then I’ll tell you to take a hike. [source]
Everyone has different goals. It is important to be healthy and fit and feel good within yourself. It is not all about being “hot” This lady has put a great deal of effort in to looking good and that is great. We don’t all need to aspire to being svelte enough to walk around in this sort of outfit and may have other things that we out more effort in to like art or becoming more educated… she has done well to remain focused enough to achieve this for herself and I think that she has probably come across in the wrong way by asking what your excuse is… I don’t think it is meant to mean what is your excuse for not looking like her, but what are your excuses for not achieving your goals, whatever they may be. Good luck to everyone on whatever challenge life is presenting to them at the moment. I say good on her and there are lot’s of other areas of life to not make excuses for not being the best at…. so just be sure to acknowledge successes on any level for any positive goal or dream. [source]
Maria, I don’t even know why you bother justifying yourself with people who obviously just envy you. Congrats! I wish I had your bod. [source]
This is all so, so very irritating to me.
Here’s the photo again:
She’s a beautiful woman, and her boys look absolutely angelic. The picture is irritating because, damn it, the implication that someone doesn’t look like her because they have an excuse is, is….. is weird. If the goal is “to inspire people,” I can think of a thousand other catch phrases common in fitspirational messages that would’ve done more to reach the people who desire to look like Maria.
“Be amazed and inspired by what a little hard work can accomplish!”
“Who do YOU work out for?”
“NEVER give up!”
“Repeat after me: I can do this!”
…and those four are quotes that I pulled off my own Instagram account.
This touches back, more so, on my issue with the claim of “excuses” and what they truly are. In my experience from actually actively working with people – as opposed to simply barking at them – an excuse is always a barrier, either real or imaginary. It’s not enough to simply point a finger in someone’s face and say “what’s your excuse?” because, quite frankly, the idea that you just “pretend the barrier doesn’t exist” won’t work for everyone. Hell, it doesn’t work for most people.
An excuse, no matter how benign, is still a reason. And people have to work through them at their own pace and their own rate.
Let’s not play stupid, here: in order to understand the statement “what’s your excuse,” you have to presume that we all understand the full sentence: “I look great; what’s your excuse?” That is, without a doubt, the definition of fat-shaming. If you don’t look like her, you must have an excuse and, if you do have an excuse, then you’re just lazy for not working on it. You can’t win.
What if I turned that around on Maria and asked, “what’s your excuse for being so thin?”
Oh, but that’s body shaming too, right?
I’m going to be frank, here – I’m loath to praise a recovering bulimic for being thin. Especially one who, instead of using her photo with her lovely boys to celebrate her own accomplishment of reaching her goal, chooses to use it as an opportunity to compare herself to others as a means of feeling superior about her body, something common in a lot of people with eating disorders. As fabulous as she looks, it would’ve been just as easy to say “Look what I’ve done with my three boys!” or “If I can achieve my goal, so can you!” Why snark on someone else, when you can celebrate yourself? Why still perpetuate the need to compare yourself to others in such an unhealthy fashion? This is not to say that she is still bulimic, but I don’t think that a fat-phobic society who is more focused on calling her “The Hot Mom” and praising her thinness would be interested in calling her out… especially in an era where people still joke about how they “once tried to be anorexic, but gave up by lunchtime.” Maybe she’s not at the point in her recovery where she can stop the comparisons, regardless of whether or not she comes out on top.
Maria’s excuse – pun intended – for her choice of language on her photo was that this was “borrowed, popular phrase that’s been used in various “fitspiration” campaigns.”
Yeah, about that…
The lovely thing about fitspiration – or, as we know it, fitspo – is that anyone can create it. Many different people, with many different journeys and experiences, can create it and share it and, as a result, find other like-minded people. The troubling thing about fitspo, however, is that anyone can create it. I’ve seen fitspo that could’ve easily doubled as pro-anorexia porn. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with – or wanting to be skinny. You choose your own destiny, and I can only hope you choose wisely.
None of that changes the fact that this:
is nothing like this:
or, dare I say it, this:
Did you even see the container of whey protein in the girl’s right hand? I for damn sure didn’t. That photo was about selling her thigh gap, certainly not her muscle.
Listen. Fitspo – and, by unfortunate extension, thinspo – isn’t always created by someone with the healthiest of intentions, the healthiest of goals, or even the healthiest of methods of achieving those goals. That’s how you get recovering bulimics who think body comparisons are a healthy way of “inspiring” others appearing on Good Morning America to “encourage” others. By all means, raise hell about it. But, instead of taking it personally and letting it make you feel some kind of way about you, remember that you have no idea how the person in the photo got the look they have (no share, but her facebook page talks about how she “has stretch marks” but the photo above has none, so photoshop and stellar lighting must also be at play). You have no idea how long or how hard the road is or what their struggle fully consisted of. Call the foolishness out, but don’t let it affect you or your journey personally.
And, for goodness sakes, the next time a silly “fitspo” photo asks you “what’s your excuse?” Say, to yourself, “none of your damn business.”
*Jeez, do I need to start turning my own photos into fitspo or something? Just so that everyone isn’t thin, frail-looking, and maybe more so in the middle of a journey instead of at the end? Since everyone’s so afraid to show progress as opposed to completion photos?
When I saw her on the Today Show this morning, I thought, “I wonder if Erika will touch this today?” lol
Yeah, she could have used a truly inspiring phrase instead of the shaming one (and that one IS shaming). What makes me cringe though? The porn pose with 3 little babies. Uh uh. That’s where she lost me.
Porn?? No way do I see that in the above photo.
I mean, I get it – the spread legs, the teeny amount of fabric.
But… a woman can be wide-legged in a small amount of fabric without it hinting towards or being about sex, so… I’own know.
Yeah, I mean, I see “HOT” (with a capital everything), but I don’t see anything even slightly porno or inappropriate.
I came across this a few days ago. First reaction? “Wow!” When I read an interview with Maria, I was even more impressed. She’s a business owner. Does not have a nanny. AND, founded a charity to help kids (especially those from economically struggling families) stay fit and healthy. “WOW!” again. I never thought for a minute this message was in any way derogatory. I found it — and Maria — absolutely inspiring. Maria stated she’d cribbed the tagline, and it was a response to women saying “I work, I have kids, I have no time to exercise.” She’s an example that, yes, we can find — or make — the time. Hell, I know I’m never going to look like her, but I can strive to be the fittest me I can be”
Whoops, the comment above was meant to be a general reply to Erika, not to the “porn” comment.
I think people need to get over it. We have gotten to a point in this crazy society where every word, every pic, every gesture is microanalyzed to the 12th degree. When I look at her picture, my first thought was, “what is my excuse?” Not because I’m comparing myself to her but because I have slacked off on my own journey. I don’t think she was intended to shame anyone. I think if someone feels shamed by that pic or the caption, that is a personal issue. I understand the point that you are making about her possibly attempting to make herself feel better by flaunting her “superiority” but I think it’s hard to make that assumption about someone you don’t personally know. People need to learn to follow their own dreams and goals. If something like this motivates you great, if it doesn’t then just move on.
“I understand the point that you are making about her possibly attempting to make herself feel better by flaunting her “superiority” but I think it’s hard to make that assumption about someone you don’t personally know.”
I think that it’s less about assumptions than it is about the intention of the photo. If I work that hard to achieve my goal, I’m not about to make MY accomplishment about YOU in any way, ESPECIALLY to compare the two in a way that puts me on top.
Maybe my ego is too large for that… I don’t know. LOL
U hit the nail on that head with that response. I completely agree, never thought of the ad as “what’s your excise for being fat”. I think people are reading way too much into the ad. Personally I find Maria inspiring, good on her!!
Well said Brandi. I was clearly one of the few who was inspired to work a little harder to overcome my current excuse. I am traveling for work, and instead of just making sure my hotel had a treadmill, I packed my workout DVDs and bands. Anyone who took this photo, or the caption, as her judging others has a lot of nerve seeing that they had no problem judging her without knowing her or her motives.
I agree… to a point.
While I agree that there are better, much more effective messages to put on a picture like this, my first impression of this was not to remark on how thin she looked, but her muscle definition and how much work she had to put in.
I have seen this message before myself, but not on fitspo. I see it on pictures of people with a missing limb, a deadly disease, or some other major obstacle that have gone on to achieve their dreams. They are meant for us to compare to our own excuses and decide for ourselves. In this case, I have never met anyone who is as fit as she with three tiny kids. I have met plenty who have one child and completely let everything go… If they decide their excuse is big enough after these types of examples, then they feel justified in staying the way they are.
I am overweight myself, and I have some reasons for the way I am. But, I know that if someone with larger obstacles can overcome them, so can I.
If people decide that the message is to show off her thinness (and really, this hardly compares to the protein ad) and how beautiful she is, and not all the hard work she had to have done, then I think that is something to reflect on personally. We cannot all be thin, but we can definitely strive to be healthy.
It may be because I like challenges, but this was only inspiration to be the best me regardless of what may happen. Isn’t that what inspiration is all about? They show stories of people overcoming their challenges so that other people can be inspired to overcome their own. Saying “What is your excuse?” may be a bit crude, but it is only what we are asking ourselves when we see inspirational messages and challenge ourselves to work harder.
Hear, hear, Bethany. I completely agree with you. I thought about similar inspirational images with people with disabilities (physical or mental), and found it to be a bit of an insult to be OK with what they represent–even praising them–but not OK with this. It’s almost as if people must pity you in order for you to be an inspiration. To me, the poster seemed to comment on how everyone has an excuse for anything and everything that might be difficult to accomplish; what matters is if you really are motivated and want to accomplish that task then that excuse becomes a non-factor.
“found it to be a bit of an insult to be OK with what they represent–even praising them–but not OK with this.”
I sincerely, sincerely, cannot say that the two are even remotely similar to me. Not in the slightest.
I get you. I was seeing it more along the line of the “pity” aspect. Literally, if you can SEE a disability (e.g. missing limbs, etc.) an accomplishment becomes more commendable? Why–because you pity them more? Obviously, it’s an accomplishment, and I would venture to say that it’s an accomplishment not because of physical barriers but because of mental barriers that must be worked through in order to succeed. And honestly, anyone can have had severe mental barriers (depression, mental disorders e.g. anorexia, etc.), which are the hardest to overcome. Minimizing a person’s struggles to just their physical handicap is insulting. It’s the mental struggle that’s the toughest to overcome. And even a non-handicapped person can have mental struggles.
I don’t know, I didn’t take offense to the pic when I first saw it. I put in the same bracket as pics of older men and women who look super fit or to those with a physical handicap (no legs, arms, etc), which have the same tag “What’s your excuse”. When I look at those photos I didn’t feel “some type of way” and this photo didn’t make ME feel badly about myself either.
However, when hear more background information about her, the more it leaves a bit of bad taste in my mouth. But like said, if we’re just solely talking about the picture, I don’t have a problem with it. For some, the pic might just be the motivation they need.
I wish you were on Good Morning America! I love what you wrote and inspired by it!
I’m a new mom who is almost constantly making excuses for not working out. Most commonly used ones being I have twins and I have a job. I saw this and I thought, she has more kids than I do, two businesses and she doesn’t have a nanny (I do) and she finds time to work out so there is no reason why I can’t find the time too.
And I think that’s all she was saying.
I don’t know how people get to “what’s your excuse for not looking like me?” or that she’s fat-shaming or mommy-shaming or what. To me what she is trying to say is so clear, but I think that’s because I’m open to receiving her message and the people who are taking offence to the picture and its caption are not.
As long as I live I will never understand why people get in such an uproar about things like this. You don’t like her body, don’t look at it. Don’t like what she has to say, don’t pay it any mind. I personally am going to use her photo as inspiration for what a post-baby body can look like.
I hear ya Max..I don’t think she was trying to “shame” anyone..It’s not like these folks on tv who have a kid on Monday and in a bikini on Friday. To me she seemed like a real person with kids, family etc. I hear so many folks who say they can’t afford a gym, too dangerous to walk in my neighborhood, all valid. But if you can read this then you can go online and find stuff you can do in your home, I’ve heard of folks using jugs of milk, cans of corn, its all a matter of how bad you want something. I know I won’t be a size 7 again and I’m good with a healthy size 12.
What you said about being open to receiving the message really resonated with me. I first encountered this picture several months ago, relatively early in my fitness journey, and my first reaction was to feel some type of way. When it popped up again on my Pinterest home page last week, I added it to my Fitspiration board. What changed between then and now? I didn’t see the picture anymore, but the journey.
I don’t want to be her size, or even have her muscle definition (I mean, I want SOME of it, just not all of it). I should note that my Fitspiration board has women of all shapes and sizes on it, too. What everything on my board has in common is that it challenges me. There are pictures on there of women that probably wear a larger dress size than me, but have way better muscle tone. I see in every picture, including this one, a message that says “You are better than whatever excuse you have brewing in your head.” Of course, I can only speak to how *I* see it.
I liken the brusqueness of its message to a T-shirt I have seen a couple of times on races I have participated in that says “Ask your doctor about getting off your ass and moving” or something like that. For some people that T-shirt might be offensive, for others it might be motivation. I think it principally boils down to your mindset at the time you are receiving it.
I’m sorry, but I think this photo is awesome. We are a society full of excuses. My genetics make me fat. I don’t have time. Fruits and vegetables are nasty. Etc. Etc. Etc.
When I looked at this photo and read this woman’s story, I said to myself, “Damn, what is my excuse?”. Even though I am in the middle of my fitness journey and have already committed myself to getting healthy, this photo made me commit myself even harder to my goals.
I know I may not look like she does, but this inspired me because it made me want to go farther into my journey so I can look like my best.
This photo isn’t fat-shaming to me (I’m over 300 lbs BTW). It is a nice and polite way of giving me and everyone else a swift kick in the butt. Losing weight is hard for everyone! Staying fit is hard for everyone. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean that you don’t stick to it.
I applaud this woman and I wish her well on her journey. For everyone else who don’t like it, well, build a bridge and get over it. #KanyeShrug
“For everyone else who don’t like it, well, build a bridge and get over it. #KanyeShrug”
roflmao @ Erika whoo lawdy
I mean! I’m used to being disagreed with – even though I thought I covered all sides of it, maybe not – but I’ve always hated awkward callousness. “Just get over it.” Yo, do you know how many people are told to “just get over” legitimate issues? That just… there has to be a better way to do it. LOL
Very well put Afftene!
Thanks Joy! 🙂
I’m someone who gets up at 4:30am to work out, 6 days a week and I haaaate the “excuse” verbiage.
I sell fitness products and I would never tell anyone they’re making excuses when they’re struggling, and it makes me cringe when my colleagues do the same. That tactic might work on high school football players, but for everyday people who are tired, busy, broke, depressed, whatever, this is just unkind.
This lady missed a big opportunity to be supportive and encouraging to other women, but if she’d done that, she probably wouldn’t have made international news, and she probably knows that.
Speaking of teenage boys, how will her sons feel about this photo in 10 years’ time?
“she probably wouldn’t have made international news,”
I was reluctant to say this in the post, but I think it must be said that bad news (and, by extension, snark and shade) will travel the world twice over before good news is shared with a classroom-worth of people. Any content provider – myself included – knows that first hand.
I’m thinking starting a charity that helps underprivileged kids be healthy is pretty supportive. Yes, she did.
“starting a charity that helps underprivileged kids be healthy is pretty supportive.”
Support the kids, snark on the adults. YOLO.
I really don’t see anything snarky about it. I see inspiration. A lot of women feel like they can’t/ don’t have time for health. She’s a living example that we can. She stated in her Yahoo interview that the quote (not hers originally; pulled from some other fitspo) was a direct response to women who were saying they didn’t think they could have time to do this for themselves. I see a lot of positive encouragement on her fb page as well.
“I see a lot of positive encouragement on her fb page as well.”
…which says nothing of the fact that this particular piece of “fitspo” is still mad misguided, irrespective of whether or not you find it “inspirational.”
You see “misguided,” I see “inspiring,” someone else somehow sees “porn.” So I maybe what it really comes down to is how each of us filters this internally.
“maybe what it really comes down to is how each of us filters this internally.”
Oh, but that protein powder ad! I’m thinking that’s being marketed strictly to the coveted 18-24 year old male market.
And that ^ is something I don’t think I’ll ever “get.” Not to be mean to those gaps that are built that way but it’s not a look that I would want to have. However, I certainly would NOT mind having an ass like that. (Which is what I thought they were marketing to the boys)
I didn’t take offense to the photo–putting it in the category with the other “What’s your excuse?” photos: the elderly fit person, the person missing a limb, etc etc.
I would’ve taken offense to her non apology but I understand where her haughty tone was coming from. She got a lot of comments implying that in order for her to look the way she does, then she’s being a terrible mother. As a mother, I definitely can see where seeing that comment and other hurtful comments aimed at her can make her write what she wrote. I guilt myself a lot over the time I take to workout and achieve my own goals and that’s without people taking a look of a picture of me and making assumptions about my lifestyle. I think her initial motivation for posting the photo was to inspire mothers because we can be particularly self-sacrificing. I do think she could’ve handled the rebuttal to all of the bashing she received online a lot better. That “I’m sorry you’re the problem” type of language did nothing to help her issue. It’s reminiscent of Rick Ross’s non apology with the date rape lyrics. He said “I’m sorry you don’t know how to interpret my lyrics.” Acknowledge that you hit a nerve and pissed people off, even if that wasn’t your intent.
As for fitspo, thinspo; I take it with a grain of salt but I can see how it can be really unhealthy for those with eating disorders because those disorders are all about perception. Those photos can skews one’s perception of healthy. The fitspo quote I hate the most is “Nothing tastes as good as being fit/thin feels.” I’m always like hmm…have you not had lasagna, apple pie, collard greens, etc etc.
THIS comment might make me reconsider my position. I’m literally standing on a street corner in SoHo frantically typing just to let you know how much I appreciate reading this. Gonna come back to it later. But YES.
LOL! Looking forward to it!
I so appreciated your response to this. I knew that there had to be a way to respond that wasn’t “hatin'”, but pointing out that there was some judgement going on that isn’t positive or helpful. Of course she has the right to feel proud about herself (and I would’ve loved to help celebrate her triumph), she has the right to free speech, but as many people find out in free speech controversies, you have to live with the consequences of your choice of words. Her choice of words hurt me, and did not uplift me. I felt judged. Maybe others didn’t feel judged, but I’m not them, and just because you didn’t feel judged doesn’t wipe out how someone else has interpreted it. So thanks again.
I don’t think this is really all that fair. I live on a military post and there are lots of excuses. I think this picture was for those who are actually making excuses because not every fitness meme applies to everyone. This was taken as a personal attack for no reason. Just like the phrase “real women have curves”. It’s meant to be inspiring to women who have more but it’s mean and degrading to those who just don’t have curves for whatever reason. I don’t think it’s fair to take something that may not even apply to you and turn it into something negative. If you read her story she actually struggled to get where she is now. It isn’t fair for her not to be able to say that there are “no excuses” for not meeting your goals, whatever they may be. Too many people took this personally but that is the state of everything these days. Making it personal I guess.
“Just like the phrase “real women have curves”. It’s meant to be inspiring to women who have more but it’s mean and degrading to those who just don’t have curves for whatever reason.”
I think this entire sentence could easily be applied to the photo above. What’s meant to be inspiring can oftentimes come off as degrading for those who don’t compare “for whatever reason.”
In other words, I think this one sentence runs counter to your entire comment.
Exactly. Not everything is forever was the point. Just because someone took offense to this doesn’t mean they should. This isn’t meant to speak to everyone, just like my comment about curves. People take offense to what they want to. The way they use women who are heavier working out in memes for fitness inspiration can be interpreted as the same thing. Plus this image is kind of taken out of context considering her back story which I think matters.
*for everyone, not “forever” (I’m a grammar nazi)
I’m curious, but what do you think about the pictures that have people with missing limbs or something similar that have the same tagline?
I’m not sure what to think of those myself in light of this.
My response to this is an entire blog post, because it’s SO long.
The short of it, though? I think they’re inappropriate.
Sounds good! I’ll be interested in reading that if it pops up c:
I’ve read some articles on why calling the para-olympics “inspirational” etc is doing the disabled community a disservice, but I feel like I need more info on the subject before forming an opinion on it.
It’ll be cool to hear your take!
Got you covered. Already working on it. <3
I saw her on the Today show this morning, too. She annoyed me instantly. She even tried to convey how “real” she was by mentioning that her dress cost $7, as if that mattered… Our thoughts on this subject mirrored each other.
I was so surprised at how divided people were on this picture/caption. I was “inspired” and “motivated” and shocked beyond belief that people I thought I knew well, were “offended”. Not liking how the message was delivered, doesn’t make it less true, or what some of us needed to hear. I am not where I want to be, but closer everyday… and there are some days that seeing that type of message is what I need to remind my self to “Stop whining, and keep winning!”
Then again, I remember complaints that I changed into my workout clothes before leaving work to make others feel bad for not working out, or to show off my body and not because the gym locker room is crowded at 5:30pm. Clearly I too was “shaming” and not inspiring…
Ladies, I promise you… Men do not get this worked up by these types of things.
“Men do not get this worked up by these types of things.”
With all due respect, men are not the ultimate arbitors of what a woman or a person, period, should get worked up over.
Lol, I love this comment and will be using it in the future (because unfortunately someone will MAKE me have to use it). It’s the perfect counterpoint to all sexist bullshit, ever. Damn, you’re clever!
My point Erica is that very few men have taken this as the personal attack that many women have. We tend to take another woman’s win as our loss more so than men do. I am always looking for women’s workout tanks with “motivational” phrases like “What’s your excuse?”. My husband pointed to the uproar from this story as 1 of the reasons I can find these types of shirts for him everywhere and for me they are a rare find or internet order. One of my favorites “You can have results or excuses, not both!” It gets rave reviews from the gym faithful, not so much if I wear it to the grocery store.
“very few men have taken this as the personal attack that many women have.”
…but men don’t experience societal pressures the way women do. Men are forgiven for chub and flub; women are [most often] not. Of COURSE men wouldn’t take this as a personal attack.
Until men and women live in environments where they experience equal amounts of pressure on specific topics, it makes no sense to presume that men should be the arbiters of what deserves anger from women. That’s all I’m saying.
I”m loath to praise a recovering bulimic for being thin. Especially one who, instead of using her photo with her lovely boys to celebrate her own accomplishment of reaching her goal, chooses to use it as an opportunity to compare herself to others as a means of feeling superior about her body, something common in a lot of people with eating disorders.
Excerpted from “Hot Moms,” Excuses, and the Trouble with Fitsporation | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
This is so true.
You know, I saw that pic on instagram the other day with a line of other pictures all with the same “what’s your excuse” caption and I loved it! I loved the babies, I have two of my own and I know the challenge it is to workout with babies literally hanging on your legs!
That being said, at no point did I feel like that pic was taken to shame me for my excuses or make me feel like she was better than me. But then I make it a point not to be so sensitive that I’m offended by things that don’t have anything to do with me. (and I’m a pretty sensitive girl, lol) So this angle really saddened me. I get your point and you make perfect sense but in a sad world where you have to make your own happiness I choose to only focus on the good of this picture because anything else is really of no positive benefit to me.
Plus, now that I’ve read her story, she needs as much support as any one of us overweight ladies here (or anyone else for that matter). If she did it to say, “look I’m better than you” well that’s really her issue, not mine. I saw a pic of a fit woman with 3 babies getting it done, it made me feel like I could be there one day and strengthened my resolve to stick with my course. And I moved on. jmho.
Well said… And I completely agree with you.
“It’s not enough to simply point a finger in someone’s face and say “what’s your excuse?” because, quite frankly, the idea that you just “pretend the barrier doesn’t exist” won’t work for everyone. Hell, it doesn’t work for most people.
An excuse, no matter how benign, is still a reason. And people have to work through them at their own pace and their own rate.”
Excerpted from “Hot Moms,” Excuses, and the Trouble with Fitsporation | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
To me, that quote is the issue. The problem with the photo is that there is an assumption in this country (and it’s not only with weight) that if you’re fat, poor, jobless, you brought that on yourself. If you’re fat you should get up off the sofa and put down the Ho Ho’s. I admit, I used to feel that way, until I grew up.
In reality, people have different issues. What about a person who works three part time jobs to pay off student loans, doesn’t have time to work out and eats what’s quick and cheap? What about someone with a chronic illness? What about a person taking care of someone with a chronic illness?
Also we live in a country where it’s easier to find processed food than healthy food.
Now I’m not offended by that photo, but I can see why some might be.
When I was at my peak fitness, I understood that other people have real, challenging obstacles, and that people at peak fitness do not all have the same body type. The varying bodies of Olympians are an example. My excuse these days? Pain. I got hit by a vehicle while cycling to work, and things have not been the same since breaking a leg at the knee joint. Walking hurts. Swimming hurts. Cycling hurts the next day. Any ideas besides buying pain medication in bulk?
I think she looks great and I did find it inspirational. I don’t get why so many people took it so personally. To me, she is more real than someone like Jilian Micheals who has never had kids. No one is telling people you have to look like her. I think people are mad that she is attractive and fit and confident about it, instead of being self-effacing like some people expect women to be.
I actually find the quotes from your Instagram inspirational while I find her quote to be judgmental. I think “What’s your excuse?” sounds judgmental and accusatory in pretty much every context I can think of. If there was any doubt about her motivation for putting this picture up, the fauxpology definitely makes it clear that she’s coming from a judgmental, arrogant, and idiotic place. I also find it troubling that she suffered from an ED in the past. If I was just looking at the image without that quote, my knee jerk reaction would be to applaud her for being in such great shape for having three babies under the age of 4. But your post is definitely making me rethink that reaction to automatically heap praise on someone without knowing the full story. Because as you said, she has previously suffered from an ED and who knows if she got this body in a healthful way? Especially considering the lack of perspective and compassion this lady has consistently been showing to people who reacted negatively to her “message”. My take away from this is not to automatically praise anyone who looks like this again, because you really never are sure of how they ended up that way.
My first thought seeing this was “Lol, straight women”.
The phrase just made it worse – figure using your children as points for making an argument and presuming you are what women should look up to and aspire to be, putting yourself out there as some sort of example of what a ~proper woman~ is all the while implying others should feel bad and their life is wrong if they aren’t or don’t want to be like that.
“My first thought seeing this was “Lol, straight women”.”
Couldn’t imagine why, considering the “need to be attractive,” the “desire to attract” and the “importance” of thinness transcends sexual preference.
Actually, there have been studies done on the way body image issues and sexuality interact with straight women and gay men having it worst and us queer women having body related messages fly over our heads. Because in our society the, as you put it, “need to be attractive,” the “desire to attract” and the “importance” go hand in hand with “a man”. Either explicitly stated in “need to be attractive to (get/keep) a man”, “desire to attract a man”, “the importance of being attractive for a boyfriend/husband/random men we used to make this statistic of what men like on a woman” that circulates in women targeting media or implied in more sexuality neutral but still “straight women as the target audience” sport magazines/websites etc.
As such, it is easy for us to recognize when a poster (in this case Maria) is a straight woman targeting other straight women without even reading what she says, which makes it very difficult to give a damn about the message, whatever message it may be. Flaunting children as some sort of achievement just seals the “lol, straight women” deal.
Duly noted. Do you have sources for this?
I’ll cite the British Psychological Society Psychology of Women’s Section and their study results, even though it’s a straight organization.
“The study, carried out by Caroline Huxley at the University of the West of England explored whether heterosexual women, lesbian women and bisexual women felt differently about the pressures on them to have an ideal body, and whether any relationships existed between how much pressure they felt, their level of body satisfaction and eating behaviour.
A sample of 472 women, 119 of whom were lesbian, 89 bisexual and 264 heterosexual, completed a number of questionnaires and the results were analysed. Preliminary findings suggest that the heterosexual women were significantly more aware of pressures on their appearance than the bisexual or lesbian women. The lesbian women in this study felt significantly less pressure on their body image than heterosexual or bisexual women, and they also internalised social ideals of attractiveness significantly less than heterosexual or bisexual women. ”
The Advocate in particular has been reporting on this over time with same conclusions and with the online lgbtq communities confirming the results with their own experiences.
I have to add that queer women are also more likely to be overweight than straight women and that it shouldn’t necessarily be left at “less affected by the patriarchal heteronormative beauty standards/more confidence” because the stress of homophobia can add to emotional eating, as well as racism given that the majority of queer women are also women of colour at the same time. Not to forget the discrimination we face in health care that results in us avoiding doctors and check ups.
THIS is helpful! ESPECIALLY this:
“queer women are also more likely to be overweight than straight women and that it shouldn’t necessarily be left at “less affected by the patriarchal heteronormative beauty standards/more confidence” because the stress of homophobia can add to emotional eating, as well as racism given that the majority of queer women are also women of colour at the same time”
Wow, you are awesome. Unf.
I take back what I said. So, is your assertion that the male gaze and appealing to it (or acting in a way to benefit from it), is the root cause?
Erika your response was spot on. My two cents: if her caption read “You can do this” or “C’mon ladies we got this” or something that says “hey I’m there with you, with the kids, with the job, with school, with whatever and eating more fruits/veggies and moving your body is a loving act” more women would have been receptive of her message.
She could have used her platform to inspire and encourage, but she chose a different route.
Shaming may work for some and for a little while. But shame only produces more shame. Shame’s power is defeating while inspiration is empowering.
Listen, women are bombarded with images of perfection all day, every day and everywhere. We’re constantly told (or shamed into believing) that life is better if we had bigger butts but have a thigh gap, bigger but perky breasts or have a clean house, work full time, and have mind blowing, hours long sessions of sex every day and have the time for DIY projects that are Pinterest worthy.
But, there is no such thing as perfection. Shame doesn’t want you to know that – shame wants you to believe perfection is attainable. It isn’t.
The most that we can be is the best that we individually can be and that’s inspiring.
the reality is some people make excuses… i know this because i have and i do… will i ever look like her.. who knows, but everyone’s body is different. for example: my thigh and calves are big.. even toned they are big.. no matter how much i lose/muscle gained i will never have legs as thin as others that are toned… i finally had to accept that and its ok. i think some people are too sensitive especially when they know they are making excuses…
“the reality is some people make excuses… i know this because i have and i do… will i ever look like her.. who knows, but”
“*Jeez, do I need to start turning my own photos into fitspo or something? Just so that everyone isn’t thin, frail-looking, and maybe more so in the middle of a journey instead of at the end? Since everyone’s so afraid to show progress as opposed to completion photos?”
YES SOROR! THE ANSWER IS YES YOU DO! (Actually we needed them like yesterday lol)
In my opinion, the picture failed because it didn’t come with a rationale. She supplied that after the fact.
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