So, I may be coming into this discussion a little late, but I recently started reading about Maria Kang. She’s the one who posted the above image on Facebook. After it went viral, she posted what she called her “First and Final Apology”, addressed to her so-called “haters”. I’ve included it 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?
(Here’s the original post on Facebook.)
First of all, um, that is not an apology.
Instead of apologizing, Kang is basically claiming that anything offensive we might see in this image reflects our own self-loathing and has nothing to with her message or the image itself.
Maria Kang, you are acting as if you posted an inkblot and inside that inkblot we saw the darkness of our own souls.
But that is not accurate. You posted an image with a clear message. The clarity of that message is what makes it effective. It’s what made it go viral and no doubt jump-start your career. Here’s what the image + words say to me:
- You are incredibly fit and incredibly thin.
- You are a mother of three.
- Because you are incredibly fit and incredibly thin, and a mother of three, other women have no excuse to not be similarly fit and thin.
A and B are fine, but C has some implications that offend me.
C implies that if my body doesn’t look like yours, I need an excuse; I need to defend myself, to ask forgiveness. Why? Is it my job to be small, to take up as little room as possible? Is it my responsibility to be as beautiful as humanly possible at any cost? For whom?
C also implies that no excuse that I can offer is valid. It suggests that your body, as pictured in the photo, is an achievable goal for most women. The discussions I’ve seen online reveal that plenty of people share the view that all women could achieve that level of thinness without significant risk to their health. (When I look over the comments that follow your apology, I note that many of your fans dismiss your critics (you prefer to call them “haters”) as lazy and fat, e.g. on January 19: “FAT ASSES got angry ahaha Keep inspiring people Maria. And keep making fat asses angry. After all it’s a good sign that they get angry although they express it in an un-healthy (again) way by hating on you lol!” ) Beyond that, they assume that thinness itself is a sign of health; the thinner you are, the healthier you are. I question that assumption.
And yet it’s true that my interpretation of your photo reflects more than the image itself and the words you chose to accompany it. It also reflects a lifetime of cultural messaging that my body will not be acceptable until I’ve tamed it, until my legs and underarms are hairless, my stomach is flat, and no part of me jiggles (except of course, my boobs). But I did not “create” this reaction, as you suggest. No, my reaction is the tension between the knowledge that these messages are wrong and the reality that they still have the power to affect me, to make me feel inadequate.
Still, I don’t want to be stuck in that negativity. I want to be free of it. I want to eat until I’m full—healthy delicious food that contains fat, calories, protein, and nutrients. I want to make cookies with my kids AND eat them. I want to run in my tight pants without worrying if my ass looks too big to the people behind me.