The latest flavor of Are You Mom Enough comes to us from Maria Kang, the now infamous "hot Facebook mom" who posted a picture of her smokin' bod flanked by her three small children, including an infant, and the words that burned a hole through the internet this week, "What's your excuse?". Burn. Maybe I'm not doing it justice. In case you haven't gazed upon the kamakazee yet, here you go:
She received a lot of backlash and accusations of fat-shaming. Women piped up that their excuse was cancer or full-time jobs or not wanting an eating disorder. True, women with bigger bones or chronic illnesses or whose bodies made too much skin during pregnancy have valid reason to not have physical sameness as Maria Kang. Moms whose hips don't retract after childbirth can do squats until menopause and not be Maria Kang. These are facts, not excuses.
Others find the picture inspirational. Our genetic attributes aside, my reasons for not being as in shape as Maria Kang are just that. My reasons. My excuses. Truth hurts. My excuses are that I did some emotional eating over the summer when I lost one of our twins. I'm eight months into a turbulent pregnancy that included a stint of bed rest. I have two children and a workaholic husband. I'm tired. I have different priorities. There is nothing wrong with these "excuses" and there is nothing wrong with not looking like Maria Kang. The important thing to recognize is these are my excuses. The stark cold truth is I could be in better shape. It's not the hot Facebook mom's fault that my inner and outer demons and interests have led me to prioritize other things over hot ass abs. Note: I said led me to prioritize, not led Maria Kang to wield her shame wand over me with universal truth that looking like a back-up dancer is the Number One Thing.
I look at Maria Kang's body like Rapunzel's hair. It's part wonder of genes, part damn hard work and purely astonishing. Is it realistic? No. Therefore is it a legit shame on me? No. I see her and I get inspired to be the best me, as soon as I'm physically able. As soon as I spring this kid from my nethers and heal from birth, I'm going to werk in that gym like I'm on fire. Maria Kang's success is not my failure.
This is the crux of a lot of the misunderstanding between women. The pretty blonde Time mom who breastfed her beefy son into near adulthood? She's not a better mom than you for breastfeeding forever. That's in your head, weighted by all the insecurities that you give power. Other moms being in better shape or having more Pinterest-worthy homes or more children or better whatever than you are not the reason you feel bad. Slaying people with the successes you wish you had will not make you feel better.
Of course no amount of time on the Stairmaster is going to turn my pale, stretch-marked skin into taut, asian gold, but if she inspires me, I can reset my priorities to include working out six hours a day . I could modify that desire to fit my life and commit to working out three days a week. We are always making trade-offs and choices. When to rest, when to work. We govern our time and our interests. Maria Kang cashes a lot of her chips in for a perfect body. We may not all have the same number of chips to cash, but we do choose where to put our focus.
Some things are not in our control (if I could will a book deal into my life, trust me, I would) but a lot of things we can assign higher priority in our lives. We can put our chips where we want to. Feeling "meh" about fitness? Own that ennui. It's not Maria Kang's fault. Want a freakishly hot body? In the words of Britney Spears, you better work, bitch.
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