This is Maria Kang.
Maria is a mum of three and she’s recently been shamed online and criticized for “fat-shaming women” after she posted this image of her post-baby body on her Faceboook page with the caption “What’s your excuse?”
The picture has gone viral, generating more than 16 million views on Facebook and over 12,000 comments – the majority from women answering the question with reasons they don’t look quite as hot post-baby.
Today, we’ve asked Mamamia body image contributor Taryn Brumfitt to answer that same question.
Dear Maria – what’s my excuse for not having a body like yours?
“OMG, It’s book week celebrations at school tomorrow and I’ve not made a costume for Oliver and Cruz. Hun, could you go & grab a yiros for dinner?” and “Just can’t be bothered going to the gym tonight, think I might stay in and watch The Bachelor” are just two excuses that spring to mind.
I’ve got a long list of the excuses that I could give Maria Kang for not looking like she does but really I don’t want to be accountable to her judgements (I don’t answer to her, I only answer to me) so instead of rambling off all my excuses I’d rather take the opportunity to set the record straight on a few things.
I’ve had the (near) perfect body and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Last May I competed in a sports figure competition, it was a big part of my body image (wait for it, the word that makes me want vomit in my own mouth) “journey”. It was a challenge that I set for myself to see how far I could push my body; it was my own personal experiment.
How would I feel about my body if I lost a lot of weight and toned up? What does it feel like to wear a bikini? It took 15 weeks of very hard training (much like an athlete) and 100% discipline with my diet, but I did it, I lost a lot of weight, I got up on that stage and strutted around in my glittery bikini and porno shoes.
I went from this …
And of course people just focused on how good I looked, and how inspirational I was and completely glossed over the fact that there was a heap of blood, sweat and tears (and not just my own tears) to get to that position. It became apparent that no one truly understood the level of commitment it takes to look like I did (or Maria does for that matter).
And that is why I take great exception to Maria’s comments.
To look like she does is (for most people) completely doable, if you are willing to sacrifice most of the things that you love. And I wasn’t willing to do that. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy hanging out with my kids, sleeping in on the weekends, eating what I want and when I want and having the occasional night out with the girls.
Now don’t get me wrong, before all you health nuts have a crack at me for promoting obesity. I’ve heard your arguments when I posted my non-traditional before and after photo:
I AM a health advocate. I run, I lift weights, I eat healthily but I also have a cookie with my soy latte and knock back the odd burger or yiros when I feel like it. It’s called balance. And whilst I am getting on my soap box (I’ll just be here for another minute) health is not dictated by your looks. Health is physical, emotional and spiritual and so much more that is not visible and not always obvious to others.
And here is something else to consider: A golden oldie…”You can’t judge a book by its cover”. That old chestnut couldn’t ring truer in my case for my bikini body. Whilst on the surface it was all smiles, razzle and dazzle, on the inside I was pining for some balance in my life.
In particular, I felt I was a selfish mother. In those 12 weeks the kids heard a LOT of “I’ll be there in a minute” (but never being there in a minute) or “I can’t come” or “I don’t have time”.
Training like a beast means less time for the kids (or when I wasn’t training I was meal prepping or more to the point meal OBSESSING).
Stinky boiled eggs on buses, obsessive weighing, arguments with my husband (I did get a bit snitchy when I couldn’t eat chocolate), way too much hair washing, boiled chicken in a bowl at Chinese banquets, dry retching while eating broccoli, fish and chips at the beach sans the fish and the chips.
There is darker, untold side to having a body like Maria’s – she’s hiding it (I know), it’s just behind her razzle and dazzle.
So when you see a poster like Maria’s ” What’s your excuse?” please don’t feel threatened or annoyed but rather be content in the knowledge that having the ‘perfect’ body isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
So… what’s your excuse?
Taryn Brumfitt is the Founder of Body Image Movement, a global movement which teaches women to “suck it up” and love their bodies. “My role is to harness and facilitate positive body image activism, I’d like to think of myself as a loveable activist!”.
You can find her speaking at Corporate events, promoting her ebook “Body Lovin’ Guide“, wearing dinner plates or in the kitchen feeding her tribe of 3 under 7. She plans to take over the world, one fridge at a time with her positive and cheerful magnets!
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