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Inspiring or insulting? Hot mom defends herself...

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Maria Kang, and the photo that launched thousands of comments. Photo: Mike ByerlyA California fitness enthusiast and mother of three is defending a controversial photo of herself that has prompted a cavalcade of Facebook critics to accuse her of fat shaming women.

More on Shine: Is the Post-Baby Body Obsession Hurting Women?

In the photo, seen at left, 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.'"

Kang, of Sacramento, California, is a former pageant queen and fitness competitor who founded the nonprofit Fitness Without Borders in 2007. She's also a recovering bulimic. Kang says she understands why some people reacted so defensively. "I think people struggle with their weight," she notes. "When you add on being a mother - and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit - the expectations are so high. I think some moms saw the picture and just said, ‘This is ridiculous.'" But still, she says, "I felt really frustrated. Being called a bad mother and a bad person definitely hurts."

Though she first posted the photo to her Facebook page a year ago, Kang noticed it was being shared a lot more recently and that it was generating a swell of negative comments toward her. So she reposted it to her own 72,000-plus followers, tacking on an apology - which, she admits, is really a "non-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," 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."   

That post brought a frenzy of negative responses, including, "Those precious little things need their mommy more than they need you to have glamour muscles," "Not that I *NEED* an excuse for not working out, but here's mine you self-righteous idiot ... fibromyalgia," "You are part of the body shaming problem that is going on in North America and other parts of the world," and "You are a bully with a super inflated sense of your own self."

Many others, though, rallied in defense of Kang, with "Never apologize," "Get a life and leave this woman alone," and "Well done!" 
 
Because of the barrage, Kang has put together a FAQ page about her personal life, with responses to many of the criticisms and accusations she's become accustomed to hearing. For example: "Do you work?" (Yes. She owns two small residential care facilities for the elderly.) "Do you have a nanny?" (No.) "Are those your kids? They all look different." ("I have to say this is the funniest comment I've read. Of course, my children look like both the mother and father," she writes. "I am half Malaysian Chinese and Filipina. My husband is a Caucasian mix of German, French, Norwegian and Spanish. They are all my kids.")

Kang says she works out five to six days a week, about an hour at a time, doing a half-hour of strength training and a half-hour of cardio - running, the stair climber, or a spin or Zumba class. She adds that, while it might seem amazing that she can fit in regular exercise while raising three kids and working, she structures her time in ways that make it all work. She watches no TV, for example, wakes up at 6 a.m., and, while she's at the park with her children, "I'm working out. I'm not sitting there on my iPhone." And she gets plenty of help from her husband, David Casler.

Casler, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a bomb attack in Iraq, where he worked as a private security contractor, is no longer able to work. He volunteers, though, with the Team Rubicon disaster-relief organization. 

It's not the first time a fitness-oriented mom has caused an online uproar. Just last month, a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles received a barrage of criticism after posting a photo of herself lifting weights during a CrossFit workout. 

Kang concludes that much in life is mind over matter - whether it's recovering from an attack like her husband's or staying in slamming shape while raising a brood of boys. "It's really where your mind is," she says, referring to the different ways that people might interpret her photo. "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."

video

http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/hot-mom-defends-herself-against-facebook-haters-192149769.html

by on Oct. 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM
Replies (41-50):
smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM
1 mom liked this

9 is ideal for me. Unfortunately, I have a daughter that seems more like you and doesn't need as much sleep. :/ 

Quoting v2011:


I don't know if I'm lucky or not, lol.  I've always been that way, more than 6 hours makes me a zombie. 

Quoting smalltowngal:

I am always amazed by people who can survive on such little sleep. I would be dead to the world if I only got 5.5 hours a night. 

Quoting v2011:

I have her body and two kids, and I'm a single mom with a full time job and a part time job.

I get up at 4am and am going until 10:30pm. And I gotta tell the ladies who are upset about her comment...to get a body like that, you gotta work damn hard and have a lot of commitment.  And yes, just about anyone can do it. 

I've met several women who ask me how I did it (I was not born to be skinny), when I tell them I hear nothing but excuses from a lot of them.   Some really want to change and are not playing the blame game, and they are the ladies who succeed.

People are angry because they don't like to be accountable. 








MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Calling my reasons for not looking like that an "excuse," is insulting.

But it's a provocative ad, meant for self-promotion, and it provoked, so good job for her.

 

 

momto3B
by Bronze Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:16 PM

My DH gets up at 4:00 in the morning to go to the gym before work at 7:00 every day. He does not work out at night so he can spend time with our boys.  I know a mom of 7, unbelievable body at 48 and is working out to video's at 5:00 AM.  I cite both of these cases because both my DH and my friend are MAKING the time to do what makes them feel healthy and happy. They are not taking time from their families, their families are in bed. 

Every day we see ads for mother's who get various degrees while working and taking care of the home and children. Are those ads intended to be offensive or insulting to  people with only a HS diploma.? No. For those who do get an advanced degree, if the ad were for Harvard and they went online to Phoenix, should they feel insulted because one school is perceived to be so much better? No. 

She is right. It can be done and I think she is saying to those who want to be fit " you can do it". For those who find it insulting, or offensive, you  are clearlly not her audience, so don't sweat it. 


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Hm, just my perspective of it, then. I look at the picture and think, My excuse is that I don't care to put the time necessary to have a six-pack, nor do I have the desire to do so. 

Quoting smalltowngal:

I don't think it necessarily assumes people want wash board abs. I don't and I still found it inspirational. 

Quoting krysstizzle:

I think it's a bit more complicated than that. I agree, if someone really wants to look like the picture, then that takes time and dedication that can be very hard.

However, that type of statement assumes that the picture is the "ideal" body (it's not...body types are very different - healthy bodies can look very different).

It also assumes that everyone wants washboard abs. A lot of people, myself included, have no desire to attempt to have a body like that. And that's ok. 

Quoting v2011:

I have her body and two kids, and I'm a single mom with a full time job and a part time job.

I get up at 4am and am going until 10:30pm. And I gotta tell the ladies who are upset about her comment...to get a body like that, you gotta work damn hard and have a lot of commitment.  And yes, just about anyone can do it. 

I've met several women who ask me how I did it (I was not born to be skinny), when I tell them I hear nothing but excuses from a lot of them.   Some really want to change and are not playing the blame game, and they are the ladies who succeed.

People are angry because they don't like to be accountable. 






ablox
by on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I'm in between. Glad she finds time to workout but its not on my top priority list. I have a gizillion other things that I find more important. She looks great, but I think most moms will agree that that is not feasible for every mom.

AtiFreeFalls
by Silver Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:19 PM

 Gym culture is different.  If a trainer doesn't flat out insult their clients they are a soft trainer lol.  I have a lot of gym rat friends and all of them post stuff like this on their facebooks.  This is underhanded and softballing compared to the posters in most gym locker rooms. 

Quoting oddgirl:

If inspiration was her true intent she might have included "If I can do it, anyone can!" or "Hard work pays off" as the message on the photo.  Instead her message suggests (at least to me) that most people viewing her photo have some sort of excuse as to why they aren't as dedicated to fitness as she is.  "What's your excuse" may motivate some, but it's bound to make more people defensive. But hey, she got some publicity so good for her, right?

 

 

 

v2011
by Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:22 PM

I'm only speaking of those who say they want to make a change or want to look like that and make excuses. And I think that is what she meant as well. Everyone else is assuming that her view is her body is the ideal.  The point is if this is your ideal then don't make excuses, just do it.  Same goes with career, education, ect.

 


Quoting krysstizzle:

I think it's a bit more complicated than that. I agree, if someone really wants to look like the picture, then that takes time and dedication that can be very hard.

However, that type of statement assumes that the picture is the "ideal" body (it's not...body types are very different - healthy bodies can look very different).

It also assumes that everyone wants washboard abs. A lot of people, myself included, have no desire to attempt to have a body like that. And that's ok. 

Quoting v2011:

I have her body and two kids, and I'm a single mom with a full time job and a part time job.

I get up at 4am and am going until 10:30pm. And I gotta tell the ladies who are upset about her comment...to get a body like that, you gotta work damn hard and have a lot of commitment.  And yes, just about anyone can do it. 

I've met several women who ask me how I did it (I was not born to be skinny), when I tell them I hear nothing but excuses from a lot of them.   Some really want to change and are not playing the blame game, and they are the ladies who succeed.

People are angry because they don't like to be accountable. 





krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:25 PM
2 moms liked this

I agree with you. But I think at least part of the reason why some people are upset is because that is the cultural conversation, that a body like that is the "ideal". And like it or not, that picture doens't exist in a vacuum, it exists in a culture that is full of fat shaming, air brushing, and sometimes unrealistic ideals and pressures on women in particular. 

That's my take on the negative comments, anyway.

Quoting v2011:

I'm only speaking of those who say they want to make a change or want to look like that and make excuses. And I think that is what she meant as well. Everyone else is assuming that her view is her body is the ideal.  The point is if this is your ideal then don't make excuses, just do it.  Same goes with career, education, ect.



Quoting krysstizzle:

I think it's a bit more complicated than that. I agree, if someone really wants to look like the picture, then that takes time and dedication that can be very hard.

However, that type of statement assumes that the picture is the "ideal" body (it's not...body types are very different - healthy bodies can look very different).

It also assumes that everyone wants washboard abs. A lot of people, myself included, have no desire to attempt to have a body like that. And that's ok. 

Quoting v2011:

I have her body and two kids, and I'm a single mom with a full time job and a part time job.

I get up at 4am and am going until 10:30pm. And I gotta tell the ladies who are upset about her comment...to get a body like that, you gotta work damn hard and have a lot of commitment.  And yes, just about anyone can do it. 

I've met several women who ask me how I did it (I was not born to be skinny), when I tell them I hear nothing but excuses from a lot of them.   Some really want to change and are not playing the blame game, and they are the ladies who succeed.

People are angry because they don't like to be accountable. 






katy_kay08
by on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I think it's great she has set a goal for herself and accomplished it.  I think if she was wanting to inspire women to listen to her and see her as a role model it could be accomplished with a little less guilt trip.  

Presley77
by Member on Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM
Totally off topic - your profile pic looks very familiar to me where is it from?


Quoting PrimmednPunked:

I honestly wish I could fit in and structure my time like that.  But honestly I have people here who work against me.  If I were to do what she does I would have it held against me.  This is mainly because while I do things that help me stay in shape I don't hear the end of it from people like my DH.  But that is mainly because structure is a word that isn't used here as much as I would like it to.


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