If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media that bombards you daily, then I’m sure you’ve heard about the woman who posted a picture of her svelte self in a sports bra and short shorts next to her three kids with this caption: What’s Your Excuse?
If you’re not familiar with this woman, Maria Kang, I’ll catch you up on what’s going on in her life…from my perspective of course.
She is a mother to three children. She’s in her early 30’s, works outside of the home (her husband is a stay-at-home-dad), and also hits the gym for an hour a day, six days a week.
Her picture generated over 20,000 comments. Most of them were great and complimentary. Other commenters, well, not so much on the praising side of the coin. The others not giving compliments of praise, thought her picture and caption were offensive, angry, and even accused the mom of three as “fat shaming” and “bullying” those moms who don’t make looking like a fitness model a No. 1 priority. Maria’s stance on why she posted the picture and caption is simple: She has a load on her plate with motherhood, work, etc., but still makes time to put her fitness first, which in turn makes her a better wife and mom. She never intended to shame others into feeling bad about themselves and she even goes so far as to say she’s not going to apologize for putting her fitness first. Her intent was to support each other and raise awareness for the obesity problem America is currently engulfed in.
I knew that I had my own opinion about this woman. I knew what I felt about her, her values, and her level of self-respect, but I wanted to get the opinions of other moms. So while on a girl’s weekend get-a-way, (yes, time away from my husband and kids and I didn’t feel one bit guilty…well just a little) I brought this picture and caption to their attention. The women, all mothers themselves, had different opinions of what Maria Kang’s objective was. Some opinions were: Well, I have a master’s degree, love my family, AND have a successful career, what’s YOUR excuse?
Another woman said: Wow, wish I could dedicate the time I don’t have in a day to looking like that! But I really don’t want to give up my chocolate.
And a comment from another mom, which really resonated with me: That’s great that’s important to her, but please don’t make me feel bad for not having the same goals and priorities in life as you. My goal in life is to be a wonderful mom, fabulous wife, and to put the needs of others before myself. Should I post a picture of myself on a mission’s trip to Africa with the caption: What’s Your Excuse?
When I first saw the picture, I must admit, I felt proud for that mom. She works out, tries to balance work/life/home, all while putting her fitness first. She looks great, (what mom of three doesn’t secretly desire a fab body that could grace the cover of Victoria’s Secret catalog?) and she wants others to make the time for fitness too. I whole-heartedly agreed with Maria. But after hearing the opinions of the other ladies, I quickly changed my perspective. Not my own thoughts about her, but rather, my own narrow mind widened just a bit to hear the opinions of others and to really listen to what they were saying.
I learned that what’s important to one may not be important to us all. For one mom, she places her time and energy into her family and church. Another mom puts her focus into her career, while another into her education. Are these women wrong? I would say no. Is Maria Kang wrong? I would say neither is she. Neither Maria nor my friends are wrong. They each have priorities in their lives that they choose to focus on and put first. It works for them; it works for their family and that there dear readers, should be enough.
In closing, it brings me back to what I’ve always felt as a woman and mother: let’s start supporting each other more on this journey we call life. Let’s raise each other up with complimentary words, kind gestures, and an un-opinionated mindset for one another. Being a woman, let alone a mom, is hard work that is constantly being placed under a microscope for all to examine. Let us take away the magnification of each other and instead, offer one another our compassion and support.
Till next month readers, but for now, I’ve gotta run…I have an appointment with my personal trainer.
*This article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*