Do or don’t you need an excuse?

Facebook meme sparks an interesting question about fitness

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist, The Times

Have you seen this picture?


On the left is Maria Kang, a mother of three little boys (spanning in age from eight months to three years) who also happens to work in the fitness industry.  She posted this picture on Facebook over a year ago with the caption “What’s your excuse?”

For whatever reason, the image went viral recently and has been the subject of considerable controversy.  In fact, the Today show reported she had received over 14,000 comments (large amounts of them negative).

UTKellyRev2ColumnThe critics described Maria as a “bully” who was “fat shaming” and “demeaning.” Maria’s response?  The intention of the post was to motivate, inspire and encourage people to take control of their health.

The picture to the right was in response (again, posted to Facebook) with the heading: “My “excuse” is that I’m okay with this.”  It pictures a “regular Mom” with a slightly less desirable mid-section surrounded by three equally young children.  (Although, can we all agree that she looks pretty damn good for having such a tiny baby?)

Grab a cup of coffee while I adjust my soapbox because I have something to say about this…

First of all, let’s not use the word “bully” so much (and in the wrong context) so as to dilute its meaning.  Maria Kang is NOT a bully.  You may think her tone is harsh or brusque (which, I still find absurd, but, I’m trying to see both sides) however, it is not the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse or dominate.  Period.

Secondly, why is it an acceptable defensive posture to bash those who have obviously achieved success?  I can guarantee that Maria Kang is not sitting on the couch watching TV, eating Doritos and drinking regular Coke.  Yes, her life revolves around fitness…but, you don’t get that body unless you are extremely disciplined.  There is no need for the sour grapes perspective of “I am superior because I could lose 20 pounds but choose not to because I’m not vain like you.”  Or “of course you look like that, it’s what you do for a LIVING.”

I think that people who criticize Maria Kang feel sorry for themselves because they don’t look like her and CAN’T look like her because they don’t have the drive to do so.


I drag my butt to the gym or go for a run every day of the week (OK, sometimes I take Sundays off) and I eat a relatively clean diet.  But, I don’t look like Maria Kang because I have PLENTY of EXCUSES.  Is this OK?  Of course it is.

Maria Kang’s underlying message (because, let’s face it, she made a provocative statement to get this type of reaction) is that if you want to look like a million bucks, you can’t sit on your butt and make up reasons why it can’t happen for you.  And, given the harsh reality of the epidemic of obesity in our country, she’s right on the money…WHAT IS THE EXCUSE?

Happy (healthy) Weekend!

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  1. Kelly says:

    Dear Should Have,
    I love your comment!!! And, I totally agree that the tag line could have been less inflammatory. However, I think that as Americans (not just being a mom to little kids) we list a million excuses why we “can’t” instead of driving to do all that we “can”. It’s like that quote that says (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Helen Keller, Einstein and Mother Teresa only had 24 hours in a day, too”.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Have a great week!!

  2. Should Have says:

    I think the issue is that it suggests one more “should do” for moms who are already asked to be perfect. Be real, I’m sure you agree that a woman does not need a six pack before or after pregnancy to be healthy. And not looking like Kang does not mean you’re in danger of becoming obese. If Kang was really trying to inspire women, or specifically moms, to be healthy, she could have picked a more supportive tagline. If she just wanted to show off her amazing body, that’s fine too! She looks awesome. But why does she have to suggest others aren’t good enough in the process? That’s clearly the idea that “excuse” is meant to provoke. BTW, I hope I don’t come across as nasty… Just giving another view on this! 🙂

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