Over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing a lot about Maria Kang, the fitness and lifestyle blogger who was under fire for her now famous headline that read, “What’s your excuse?” with a photo of her–flaunting a chiseled body in a teeny two-piece–and her three young sons. Her motivation as she claimed–and as I took it to be as well–was that she wanted to motivate those who offer explanations about why they can’t exercise. But many detractors were offended and thought she was “calling them out” about their bodies.
I’ve never had a weight problem nor have I ever had a child, but sometimes I do feel like skipping a spin class because I was up late the night before or ordering a large box of pizza and eating all by myself. But I look at someone like Kang, who reveals on her blog that throughout most her life she struggled with body acceptance and unhealthy dieting, and I look at how she has overcome all of that and reinvented her eating and fitness habits even as a mother of three. Then I think, If Maria Kang can care for three young boys, hold down a job, be a devoted wife and still find time to stay in shape, I can do the same as a single woman with no kids. I found her simple yet blatant message encouraging.
But not everyone took it that way. Kang was booted off Facebook and the subject of much mommy blogger and morning talk show backlash. While some of her opinions about how women approach their health and their bodies are controversial, I find her candor actually refreshing. She put in the hard work and the time to get the results that were healthy and with which she was most satisfied.
I’ve been working out for more than a decade and I have a flexible diet with which I am satisfied. All of that takes diligence and effort, yet I continue to hear people tell me, You don’t even have to work out or You probably have good genes or You could eat anything you want and still look like that. I have to stifle a chuckle because none of those sentiments are true. Fitness is so much a part of my healthy lifestyle that I don’t know what I would look like if I wasn’t dedicated to a healthy regime. To assume that I do nothing to achieve my body is kind of ridiculous to me. I’m not one of those people who can do nothing and look great. I work at it–and in many ways that makes me appreciate my body even more because I am in control of it.
But perhaps the worst slap in the face to me is when people throw around the awkward phrase “real woman.” It’s something that has become so prevalent in pop culture and in our vernacular, yet it makes me shudder every time. I have no problem with others referring to themselves as a “real woman,” but it rubs me the wrong way when they suggest that they are more real than others, that they’re bodies–whether it’s smaller, curvier, or fuller–are the more ideal or realistic shape. It only stirs general pop culture stereotypes of competition among females.
Shamefully, in the past I admit to having lamented over certain celebrities who I thought were too skinny and I feel awful about that now. Because it’s not for us to project our feelings of body value on others. You never know what that person is going through and how your words can affect someone else. Let’s stop judging other people’s bodies and projecting feelings about our own bodies on others. That’s not going to solve anything. It’s time for us to start appreciating our own bodies and affecting change in ourselves. Only then will we begin to reach that euphoric sense of self that will make us that much stronger and accepting of others.