What's Wrong with This Picture? Why Maria Kang Can't Tell People What to Do.

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Maria Kang is getting a lot of heat for this photo:

Image: Facebook (fair use)

Now, I came here to defend her, actually. That had been my idea. I mean, she's clearly "fitspiration," and that's a genre. People attacking her for "what she does'" (which is also what she does for a living), is almost like someone attacking a romance novelist for not being Proust. They're not meant to be compared. Which, really, is one of the problems with this photo. It's meant for the "fitspiration" crowd, not for the general public.

The problem with "fitspiration" people is that they often assume that the general public is the "fitspiration" crowd, or would be if they could only see the light.

It's so easy, you see. Anyone can do it. What's your excuse?

And there's the second problem with this photo. Unlike the other "fitspiration"stuff Kang's posted that involve pictures of herself, she actually comes out and brings you into the equation. And you know what? We all have some pretty good excuses.

Here are a few from a Facebook thread:

"My "excuse" is that I don't work out for a living."

This is a good point. Maria Kang's business is fitness. It's what she does. She makes money from it, in addition to her social media presence. Blogging and writing are what I do. Unfortunately, they don't keep me fit. Come to think of it, they don't pay me, either.

"I don't have money for daycare or a babysitter so I can work out for hours or go on 10-mile runs."

Another excellent point. Maria Kang's husband stays at home and is extremely helpful around the house. They do have money. She does have time. These are not small issues.

I'm totally privileged in that I can afford to go to a gym that provides childcare, and I have the time to work out for an hour three times a week. I have a husband who looks after the kids on Saturdays when I go to that gym. I spend my days writing, being a housewife and mom, and going to grad school. This is privilege. I can do these things because I have advantages that other people do not have.

One person on Facebook commented that "it's pretty damned easy for a suburban soccer mom to tell a single mother with two jobs and barely enough income to afford fast food that she just isn't trying hard enough."

When you're working two or three jobs, as a single parent, and your car is on the verge of breaking down, and your kids need their time with you and you're just making ends meet, well, running 4x a week and doing your core 3x a week is not happening. It's not an excuse. It's reality. And when those parents sit down, exhausted, in the thirty minutes of peace they have between the time their kids go to bed and the time they drag themselves to bed, the last thing they want to see is some woman who doesn't get it telling them how easy it would be if they just gave up the excuses. The message simply cannot translate.

"My excuse is 4 kids in 5 years, an emergency c-section, and genetically inelastic skin. I had a consult with a plastic surgeon and the extra skin on my tummy falls into the "severe" category. So I can exercise like a beast (and I have), and I'll still look 4 months pregnant. So fuck her."

This is a biggie when taken out of the "fitspiration" subgenre (and even within it, honestly, because many, many followers of "fitspiration" have fairly insurmountable odds, or as Kang would call them, "excuses," when trying to get fit). It's great that Kang can look like that thirty seconds after giving birth (which she actually doesn't, but I'll get to that). The point is, not everyone is Kang. Not everyone can look like that even if they do everything she does exactly to the letter. Everyone's circumstances are different, and speaking as a lady with stretch marks and extra skin, it totally sucks. And seeing a (n edited) picture like that saying I'm just not working hard enough? Well, like the FBer said, fuck you.

Now, if you visit her Facebook page (which I have a lot to say about in a minute), you'll see at one point Kang posted a picture of herself where her pregnancies do show. There are the stretch marks I do recognize. There's the way my own skin wrinkles when I sit. And yes, I know that she can arch and stand in ways so that that doesn't happen (I do it myself for photos). But in the first picture I posted, those stretch marks are nonexistent. I blew that photo up to as large as I could, hunting for a tell-tale streak. Nothing. Photoshopped or airbrushed out.


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