I did my best to avoid this topic. Maria Kang….
“Oh….WHO?” you might ask. Let me refresh your memory. Ms. Kang is the fitness “expert” who posted the following picture on her website last month, causing a shitstorm of negative reaction from the fat acceptance community & some from the feminist community as well.
Many who were upset by this felt this way because Kang had what seemed to be an “in your face” attitude, implying “hey, look at my body, don’t I look great? Why don’t YOU look great?”. Suddenly pictures & memes with women who didn’t have Kang’s body were being posted with all kinds of “excuses”, which to me weren’t excuses at all, but life facts that obviously Ms. Kang seems unaware of.
After all the adverse reactions (and a lot of publicity for her in the process), Queen Kang issued an apology that really was nothing of the sort. See below:
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 business’, 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?
Unapologetic apologies set me off. Despite that, I kept silent, mostly because I didn’t want any of my internet rants/blogs to give her any more publicity than she’d already gotten. A comment from Shaunalee Brown-Chavez on her Facebook page got right to the heart of the matter:
I think this picture and the presentation along with the caption was off putting and upsetting. There are thousands of other ways to show off a fit body without wearing a bra and underwear for the nation to see. Secondly, “excuses” come in every shape and size. I think for most women it’s about priorities, not excuses! My kids are my first priority. If what you say is true you are a very busy working mom with no nanny. Where are your kids while your spending all your free time working on you? Finally, you don’t have a daughter. I think if you did your message would surely be a different one. Would you want someone telling her she had no excuse for looking a certain way? What if she didn’t look like you, and some woman made her feel bad about it? I’m sure you would change your tune. Your apology is a joke and as worthless to women as your initial post. Put some clothes on and spend some time with your children.
Others came to her defense, including former Jersey Shore star Snooki, who insisted that the photo “is not offensive at all, because that’s what lazy people say.” I don’t know about you, but having support from a TV reality show star isn’t exactly what I’d want if I was looking for an ally in my cause. Then again, this is Maria Kang, who appears to want more than just 15 minutes of fame.
So, after her several weeks of running the media circuit, I thought she’d kind of settled back in, hopefully to focus on her other activities, like running several residential care facilities for the elderly, doing freelance writing, running a fitness non-profit, and taking care of her 3 sons.
And in spite of that, I remained silent, even though she defended herself from accusations of bullying after her media blitz, saying “I think this word is so overused that we forgot that a bully attacks others? I posted my picture on MY fitness-oriented page.” Well, yes you did, and then you made sure it was posted in more places on the internet, and made sure that it was picked up by the media, and made sure that you made all of your TV and radio appearances, attempting to garner even more attention to YOU, and your shaming of others. Strange how those who responded to you so vehemently weren’t given the same opportunities to appear in the media to refute your claims.
Well, on Monday (11/25) Yahoo! reported that Maria Kang wrote a pot-stirring Facebook post criticizing plus-size women in lingerie that wound up getting her reported for abuse and subsequently blocked from Facebook over the weekend. Here’s part of what she said:
“I am motivated by constant body (fat) acceptance campaigns strewn all over the internet followed by comments with the context of ‘you go girl!’ and ‘more power to you!’ The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30-40lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects a family, a community and a nation.”
Ummmmm, I’m motivated as well. I’m motivated to offer support to those overweight people to live the healthiest lives they can with the cards they’ve been dealt. I’m motivated to help them to feel better about themselves despite the Maria Kangs and MeMe Roths of the world, who constantly tell these people that they should be ashamed of themselves, and that there’s no place in the world for them. I’m motivated to confront people like Maria Kang face to face and challenge them to back up their feelings with facts, because the fact is that more and more contemporary research is showing that the words fat & healthy are not mutually exclusive.
I was fat as a kid. In my later teen years, I put myself on a path towards health, eating properly, taking vitamins & supplements, exercising, & getting sufficient sleep. In the process I dropped a significant amount of weight, but that wasn’t the purpose of changing my health habits. I just wanted to be healthier than I was. I worked out & hung out with guys who did the same, and while some exercised more than I did, and others ate healthier, and some did both, some remained fat. I didn’t. The luck of genetics, possibly? It didn’t matter. What I learned is that some people were more prone to being fat, and they shouldn’t have to deal with the rest of the world because of it.
What set me off today resulting in this blog is the Thanksgiving statement made by Queen Kong today. Take a read, it’s kinda long, but sums up her non apologetic apologies (hopefully for the last time, though I doubt it):
This is my Final statement about this issue before I celebrate Thanksgiving (Happy Thanksgiving!!!) It’s not an easy position to be in, but I’m in it because I still believe our country can be great.
There are many misguided things being said about me – so disappointing that many are coming from feminist camps and TV news shows expressing their contempt for me and my message. THIS is the backward-ness I am talking about. These are the reasons why we are a nation in crisis.
Did I say you shouldn’t love your body? NO. Did I say we are normalizing obesity? YES. Is obesity an issue? According to the Journal of Health Economics the annual medical spending for an obese person was $3,271 compared with $512 for the non-obese in 2012.
So let me ask you about these contradictions:
Why can an obese woman stand half naked and say “I’m proud!” and a healthy woman do the same without being criticized?
Why are people shaking their heads at me for saying “obesity is a crisis” when according to the CDC more than 33% of adults and 17% of children are now obese .
Why can a post-baby celebrity pose proudly in a bikini on a magazine (and be applauded) and an everyday working mom (me) do the same without hitting nerves?I have an organic message – a voice that has gone viral – stemming from a concerned American. I am saying we can become successful if we understood the power of choice. Many people surrender their strength under the disguise of an excuse. There are many valid and challenging excuses out there and while it’s a tough fight to be in good health, your body is worth it. You are worth it. I’m saying many of our messages are wrong – from the people we idolize to the people we vilify.
I had no idea my motivational fitness poster, created for my health followers would go viral, nor did I think my post about obesity would be condemned as offensive. I am passionate about the issue, promoting change and not backing down. I created a fitness nonprofit, a free mom-me fitness group and even a free ebook to help people who are ready and willing to make change.
The first step in making change is deciding you are unhappy with where you are.
You can’t be unhappy if your environment deems it okay to be where you’re at.
While it is important to love yourself in this process, there is a fine line between “I love and accept myself” versus “I love, accept and desire to progress myself”.If anyone read the full post (that was deleted) they would see that I never (and still don’t) mention the article I read and the images I saw. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. I come from a place of compassion, concern and conviction. I created this page to encourage and motivate others. It’s a tough love approach – it’s not for everyone, but for the minor few that hate me and my message, there are thousands of others who are positively making changes and it is because of YOU I am still fighting the good fight. We can win this war on obesity and I’m on your side.
You can read the deleted post here: http://www.mariakang.com/2013/11/23/i-am-banned-from-facebook/
Here’s my message for Queen Kang, posted on her Facebook page today, after her temporary ban:
When one puts themselves into the media by making what so many have perceived as inflammatory comments, it leaves a person open for the backlash that has occurred.
Face it, not everyone can do what you’ve done. It’s hard work, and I hope and trust that your health is good.
When I was younger, I was fat. I didn’t feel horrible because I was fat, I felt horrible because of a lifestyle of poor eating habits and not enough exercise.
I put myself on a path towards health. I did it with some friends I’d met after high school. What I learned during that journey was that some of them ate healthier than I did, and exercised more, yet I lost weight, and they didn’t. It was a lesson learned that has remained with me until today.
See, the point I’m trying to make is that you….NO ONE can look a a person’s body and assess their level of health. So, when a comment is made to challenge/motivate someone who is already on that journey, telling them to try harder isn’t going to do anything except discourage them. Focus on health, not on fat. My parents raised me to treat people with respect, and my judgments of people (again from my parents) are based on how people are, not how they look.
Many of the responders on your page over the past couple of days could learn a lesson from that.
Hopefully the small city of 236,000 followers on her Facebook page will learn that, though I doubt it. In the meantime, Queen Kang may want to examine her own personal dynamic, her fat phobia, her concern trolling, and her need to be a heat seeking missile, looking for more than her 15 minutes of fame.