Topic Maria Kang, fat shaming and the obesity epidemic
04 Dec 2013 08:03
In October, Maria Kang was all over the news when she posted a picture of herself in her work out gear, displaying a very fit body and surrounded by her 3 children with the caption, "What's your excuse?"
She was accused of fat shaming and then a few days ago, she posted an anti-obesity rant on her face book page that was deleted for "hate speech."
Personally, I think people overreacted to her picture, bearing in mind this was before her anti obesity rant. Miss Kang has gone on to say that she doesn't see anything wrong with bigger women loving themselves, but she aimed to raise awareness of the obesity epidemic.
I kind of agree with her, obesity is a growing problem, pardon the pun, but the reaction she got shows that many people are in denial. I support people loving their bodies and yes all shapes and sizes can be beautiful but there are also health risks involved with being on the heavier side and I think we should all do our best to be in shape, there really isn't any excuse for it. Excluding of course people with legitimate glandular or health problems that keep them from getting in shape.
Any thoughts on the matter?
As an inspirational role model for prioritizing fitness even in the midst of a busy life, Maria Kang is a huge success. But from a PR standpoint, she's a dumpster fire. She's to be commended for pushing back against a growing obesity pandemic. We need more women who can come forward and say "yes, you can do this!" But words and tone matter, and because she's chosen so poorly with both, we're not talking about how to tackle obesity. We're talking about how divisive Maria Kang is.
Her obesity rant was in response to a line called Curvy Girl Lingerie, which is just what it sounds like: lingerie for women who can't wear something off the rack at Victoria's Secret (or at the very least, don't feel comfortable doing so). Their website says the following:
“For most of us Curvies, we will have rolls, bumps, lumps, scars, stretch marks, surgery scars, breasts that are natural and that have breast fed our babies. And we can still be STUNNING and BEAUTIFUL.”
In reference to Curvy Girl, Kang said, "I was a little peeved because while I feel like it’s ok to love and accept your body, I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society."
This is just a basic communication failure. Of course, she's right in general. The prevalence of obesity in society, and the increasing market for plus-size fashion, is normalizing a tremendously unhealthy condition. But the screw-up here was tagging that comment to Curvy Girl Lingerie. Now, are there some genuinely, preventably obese people who benefit from the availability of Curvy Girl? Of course. But you know who else benefits from a business like Curvy Girl? A majority of women who don't look like Maria Kang. Not being a size-2 with 3% body fat is not the same as being reckless with one's health. I'm sure she'd agree with this, but the problem is that she's not saying it. Instead, she's arguably implying the opposite whenever she expounds on the subject.
I have a friend at the gym where I work out. She's my gym-friend; I only see her there, but I almost always see her there. She works really hard at being fit, six out of seven days. She eats and lives smartly. She's also a size eight or ten. Short of a surgical procedure, she'll never have a flat stomach or perky breasts. She'll never feel comfortable in 90% of what Victoria's Secret sells. Lines that market to more sizes and body types- lines like Curvy Girl- would likely suit her far better. The same is true of millions of post-pregnancy bodies, to say nothing of women who are perfectly healthy but just aren't toned. Not having washboard abs is not the same as being a heart disease victim waiting to happen.
After that little Facebook dustup (in which, as Magma said, her post got labeled ridiculously as hate speech), she went on to explain that much of her crusade against obesity stems from her own struggles with eating disorders, as well as her mother, who missed her wedding because of- in Kang's words- health issues stemming from her obesity. So clearly the lady has baggage, and fair enough. We all do, to an extent.
But to project that lingering resentment onto women she doesn't know, many of whom are not obese or unhealthy but have nonetheless found themselves under a blanket label indictment, is tone deaf, and counterproductive to what she's trying to achieve. Let's hope she either finds a spokesperson or a PR coach. I'm sure she'd rather we discuss healthy lifestyles for ourselves, not her divisive commentary. The good news is, she's the one that can ensure that in the future.