This morning, I was listening to the tail-end of The Bert Show's discussion on the Maria Kang photo below:
He asked the question "...What's YOUR excuse for not being in shape like her? Does she have a point...or is she bullying/body shaming?"
Now, I don't think that's something that could be answered in a 140 character tweet, or even in a Facebook status message/reply. So I'm going to address it here:
1. You have to go to her Web site/Facebook page to know anything about her. Did she lose weight? Is she maintaining weight? What did she look like before the kids? Does she have help? Who's watching the kids while she's exercising? Considering that many people won't investigate, I feel that it is important to say that FitSpo photo lives in a vacuum. There's too much left up to the viewer's perception, and thus can be perceived as bullying by some and inspiration by others. I think people should be more inspired by a person's struggle and/or process than by any particular result.
2. Sometimes the "excuse" is actually a very good reason. Many times I've written about how I believe that most people are obese because of some sort of trauma.
For some people it's emotional, for some people it's physical. In the
case of emotional trauma, normal coping mechanisms have failed and are
replaced by things that flood the brain with serotonin (food, alcohol,
drugs). The "excuse" is that people haven't confronted these issues in a safe and nurtured environment. Some people aren't ready to do that. In the case of physical trauma, such as my bad back, exercising isn't always an option. Even now, there are limits to what I can and should do. Sometimes the reason is that there are other parts of a person's life that are more important than making sure they are aesthetically pleasing. People should not feel guilty about taking care of themselves the best way they know how, even if it means not being in a gym every day.
3. Thin doesn't necessarily mean healthy. If her goal was to encourage people to be healthy (she has a fitness non-profit), she'd post her blood tests, as they're the most accurate gauge of a person's health. I would HATE for someone to look at me, assume that I'm lazy and unhealthy just because I'm overweight, when my own doctor lauds the improvements that I've made on the inside of my body. I've worked very hard to be overweight (instead of obese) and I still don't look like her (nor do I want to). I also know that there are plenty of women and men out there that are getting positive feedback on their bodies as a result of eating disorders. If you read anything about her, you'll find out that she struggled with eating disorders. Is her desire to drop the pregnancy weight so soon after giving birth the healthiest thing for her to do? (see below)
4. Mothers should not be shamed into losing their pregnancy weight immediately after giving birth. I've never had a kid. I know many people who have. And some people have lost the weight easily and returned to their pre-pregnancy body easily and while many others have needed more time to get their pre-pregnancy body back. Some women actually enjoy the "permission" to enjoy their post-pregnancy body. It's the first time in their life that they are able to lose their food rules, get off the treadmill, and enjoy their body. They're also taking time to enjoy motherhood instead of scheduling their time at the gym. Again, that's a choice, not an excuse. And dare I even mention the rise in stories regarding the pressure for moms to drop the weight triggering eating disorders?
5. Fitness is her job. It was to her benefit to lose the weight -- as she's a fitness model, runs a fitness non-profit, etc. She makes money off of her image. The controversy is just getting her name out there ("there's no such thing as bad press"). Imagine if the quotation was "What's your motivation?" instead of "What's your excuse?" -- we'd very clearly assume that aesthetics and profit are her motivation (wouldn't it be nice if her kids were her motivation). Not everyone makes money off their body (not everyone wants to).
Now, she's replying to the media storm over the photo, and I don't really buy it. She did a "Sorry, I'm not sorry." But I'm glad there's some dialogue happening about why her picture with caption was so misguided. I'm glad that people are talking about why FitSpo photos and slogans are negative to all the hard work that people are putting into body acceptance in their own lives and in the world.
What say you?