Fitspiration or Fat-Shaming?

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In fat-shaming news, Maria Kang, a 32-year-old fitness fanatic and mother of 3, posted a photo of herself and her three sons (then aged 3 years, 2 years, and 8 months) on Facebook with the caption “What’s Your Excuse?”  In the photo, Kang is wearing only a sports bra and tiny workout shorts, showing off her toned and sleek body.  Clearly, the photo and caption are meant to be “fitspirational” to all of the new moms out there who haven’t yet made losing weight their top priority and to show them that even with 3 kids under the age of 3, you too can have the body of a fit model.  Needless to say, the internet has been ablaze with both positive and negative feedback on the image.

I actually saw this woman on the Today Show this morning, and she was rather unapologetic about the message her photo is sending.  She reiterated the fact over and over that the photo was meant to be inspirational, not a knock against fat people.  That may have been her intention, but honestly, the caption clearly implies judgment against those who “haven’t lost their baby weight yet.”  That perhaps if these overweight women just tried a little harder, they too could bounce a quarter off their abs.

Kang, who is a former personal trainer and beauty queen, clearly has always been in good shape.  Given this fact, it’s not surprising that she was able to “bounce back” to her original shape after her pregnancies.  But the fact is that she is in the minority.  The average woman in the U.S. does not look like Kang and even if she were to put in all of the extraordinary time and effort to achieve Kang’s physique, it is very unlikely that she would be able to maintain it.

So, yes, I do believe that this image is fat-shaming. Instead of sending the message that if you just try hard enough, you can have a hard body after baby, how about telling new moms that they are beautiful and that they should appreciate what their bodies can do for them (e.g. give birth!).  Now that would be inspirational.

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