beauty

'What's Your Excuse?' fitness mum banned by Facebook

It seems Facebook isn’t so tolerant of fat-shaming, after all.

UPDATE: Maria Kang, the fitness enthusiast and mum of 3 who drew the ire of the internet by asking mothers “What’s Your Excuse?” for not being in shape, has been banned by Facebook this week.

According to reports, the 32-year-old posted a tirade on her public Facebook page in response to the recent Curvy Girl lingerie campaign. Maria slammed the campaign, suggesting it “normalises being unhealthy” and that there is “unrelenting support” for people who are “borderline obese”. She also took aim at “news stories about how overweight, nearly obese women should be proud of their bodies.”

We assume many of her supporters agreed with the sentiment, but Facebook was none too pleased. On her website, Maria revealed the social media giant had temporarily blocked her from posting content. You can read her response here.

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Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more pressure and unwarranted judgement directed at mothers, along comes this photo.

California-based Maria Kang, a mum of three who runs a fitness non-for-profit business, shared the image on her Facebook page in an attempt to inspire mums to get in shape.

Only, instead of inspiring them, she's managed to enrage, offend and insult them.

Maria is pictured kneeling behind her three children, aged 3, 2 and 8 months - but it's her six-pack and svelte figure that's the real centrepiece. "What's your excuse?" the image demands. The message is clear: Mums, no matter how exhausted or overwhelmed you are by raising a human life, or three, there's no reason for you to not resemble a Sports Illustrated cover girl. As we all know, 'Regaining Hot Body' is the first chapter of Effective Parenting 101.

Maria Kang in 2011, eight months pregnant with her third child.

Although it was originally shared in 2012, the image has gone viral in recent weeks. While some of its 16,000 respondents have posted messages of support, many more have voiced their anger, labelling her a 'fat shaming bully'.

Sarah, a mum of two, wrote the following on Maria's website: "First: many of us end up with stretch marks after kids…. A LOT OF THEM! I have two kids and both have caused my skin to stretch soo bad ... Second: I am an avid runner. I run my two kids in a double jogger. Do I look like a runner? Nope. As a matter of fact, unless people know me, they don't believe me. I do half and full marathons ...'People like you who post pictures like this make people like me cry because I know that without surgery to lose the extra skin I will never look like you."

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Thanks to genetics, every woman's body is radically different after birth, as they are before birth. Some mothers might return to their previous dress size within months; for others, birth changes their shape forever, despite exercise and diet.

Does that make them worse mothers? Absolutely not.

However, Maria Kang doesn't seem to understand that one post-birth size doesn't fit all. Clearly flummoxed by the response to her post, she has shared a message in response, titled 'My First and Final Apology'. As you might suspect, it's a bit of 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 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 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 ... 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?"

Got that? Although the image was blatantly insensitive, mums are choosing to be insulted by shameful messages about their bodies.

Despite whatever intentions she had in mind, Maria Kang's photo and the message attached contributes to a wider narrative attached to women and their appearance.

During what is already an overwhelming, exhausting and terrifying time in their lives, mums shouldn't be made to feel that their worth as a parent is tied to their waistline - and yet society continues to peddle this message.

From internet memes comparing Kim Kardashian's pregnant body to that of a whale, to magazine covers detailing Kate Middleton's post-baby body fitness regime within 24 hours of Prince George's birth (left), the focus on appearance - rather than, you know, raising a child - is ever-present. And it's getting ridiculous.

If mums, like Maria Kang, find exercising and toning up their bodies after birth makes them happy, they should feel free to do so. Likewise, if mums don't have the time, motivation or desire to sculpt a six-pack, they shouldn't be shamed for that decision either.

What do you think of Maria Kang's photo and the response? 

Here at iVillage, we think all post-baby bodies - in fact, all bodies - are worth celebrating. That's why we started the Mummy Tummy Pride gallery - and we'd love to add your photos. Send them to [email protected]