Looks Like "No Excuses" Mom, Maria Kang, Found Some Excuses

image credit: Maria Kang instagram

image credit: Maria Kang instagram

You may remember Maria Kang from her fifteen minutes of fame a couple of years ago when she put some time and effort into looking like the cultural stereotype of beauty, had some success at that, then took a picture of herself wearing gym clothes with her three sons. Which is, of course, her prerogative and completely fine.

But then she couldn't resist shaming people who made different choices (or made the same choices but had different outcomes) by adding the caption "What's Your Excuse?"

She then split her time between defending her fat-shaming behavior and running a fitness business, putting out books like The No More Excuses Diet: 3 Days to Bust Any Excuse, 3 Weeks to Easy New Eating Habits, 3 Months to Total Transformation which were, of course, not backed by any research or evidence of efficacy, but that’s diet culture for you.

Now, like so many diet peddlers before her, Maria has gained weight and has turned to trying to co-opt the language of Size Acceptance activists.

It seems that she gained a little weight, had a photo shoot and put it up on her Instagram saying:

“In the last several months I’ve been over-traveling, over-stressed, and over ‘it’ as I’m undergoing many life challenges and changes.”

image credit: Maria Kang Instagram

So I guess we now know what Maria Kang's excuse, or rather excuses, are. This is totally reasonable by the way. If it weren’t for Maria saying “What’s Your Excuse?,” she wouldn’t even find herself in the predicament of having to make one, since nobody is obligated to maintain any weight or fitness level for any reason. 

Inevitably there will also be the arguments about how it’s okay for her to gain 10 pounds, but other people’s weight is not okay, which is totally bullshit since other people’s body size is not your business and nobody needs an excuse or justification to be the size they are, or to love and appreciate their body at that size. Maria finds herself hoisted by her own petard.

Look, I hope that Maria really has found some size acceptance and body love. But if she is really looking to send a new message — and not just try a new tactic to boost waning attention — then she doesn’t need to parrot the philosophy of the people she hurt.

There is a lot of conversation in Size Acceptance, Fat Activist, and Health at Every Size spaces about how we can/should find compassion for this person who it seems is a casualty of a culture very messed up in its ideas of weight, health, and motherhood, and how we balance that with the fact that she is co-opting our language while still selling diets and thinness, since she is still using the old “What’s Your Excuse?” picture from the original photo shoot on the front page of her website — which asked if I want to "join the no excuses movement," I'll pass, thanks — and on the cover of her books about how to lose weight. 

Sadly, this is a conversation my community has a lot. Celebrities know that attention can always be garnered through weight loss. These folks also soon learn that being a celebrity doesn't insulate them from the realities of weight cycling and the fact that most people who lose weight gain it back, often gaining back more than they lost.

So there are celebrities who are happy to disparage being fat (and fat people in the process) when they are in a thinner point in their weight cycling and then come running back for our support when they are at a higher point. It leaves people like me in a difficult place of trying to have compassion for someone who is a reflection of a screwed up society, but it also actively contributing to the ways that society causes our oppression.

Enter Maria Kang who, after her weight gain and accompanying photo shoot, told People Magazine

"It was important for me because I always tell women to celebrate their bodies. Regardless if we have some cellulite, extra weight, extra skin, or extra scars – be proud because we are constantly progressing, transforming, and aging! This is our temple so take care of it!”

I’m not sure that the evidence backs her assertion that she “always tells women to celebrate their bodies,” but gosh, this whole paragraph sounds vaguely familiar. Hold on, it will come to me. Oh, I remember now, it's how people like me responded to her "What's Your Excuse?" BS. And how did Maria respond to that message then?

"I've been getting an influx of new followers, emails and comments (on my profile pic) recently. Some saying I'm a bully, I'm fat-shaming, and I need to apologize for the hurt I've caused women. I get it. SO here's my First and Final Apology:

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. 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?"

Maybe someone should tell Maria that the internet is forever?

Regardless, I’m sorry for the ways that Maria is a victim of our culture’s impossible beauty standards — including and especially when it comes to mothers. I’m sorry that she chose to take advantage of those impossible beauty standards in a way that perpetuated them, and perpetuated the oppression of those who don’t meet them. I’m pissed that now that she’s found her excuses she stealing the language of the people she chastised for having them.

Look, I hope that Maria really has found some size acceptance and body love. But if she is really looking to send a new message — and not just try a new tactic to boost waning attention — then she doesn’t need to parrot the philosophy of the people she hurt.

She needs to apologize, and center the voices who have been giving a message of body love all along.

Otherwise I assume she’s just another dishonest diet peddler who will say anything to stay in the spotlight. 

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