An undated profile photo posted on Facebook by Maria Kang...

An undated profile photo posted on Facebook by Maria Kang has led to criticism of the fit mom for what many see as fat-shaming. Credit: Facebook

There's been an avalanche of controversy over the past 24 hours concerning the photo to the left, which was posted to the Facebook page of "busy working mom" Maria Kang. Commenters and others around the blogosphere have called Kang a "bully" and a "fat-shamer" for showing off her beautiful body. One commenter went so far as to say, ""People like you who post pictures like this make me cry because without surgery I will never look like you."

In response to that commenter and all the others out there who are blasting this beautiful woman, I cry foul.  If Kang's photo had been Photoshopped or airbrushed, or if she had undergone plastic surgery to achieve that flat, tight stomach and beautiful, well, beautiful everything, I would be livid. Those are the impossible images that are destroying the self-confidence of women across America. Those are the impossible images we should be revolting against with boycotts and pickets, because those are the impossible images against which we judge ourselves and against which our daughters will judge themselves and fall hopelessly short by comparison. But Maria Kang is not impossible.

Kang has said she has never had plastic surgery. The mother of three children birthed in annual succession, the youngest a mere 8 months old,  recounts being overweight in the past and admits to a history of bulimia. If there is anyone who would not set out to shame overweight women, it most certainly would be someone who has suffered through the insecurity, poor self-image and mental and physical anguish that accompanies an eating disorder.  This woman is not a "bully," she's an inspiration. Kang, who does not have a personal trainer, is a former beauty queen. She is not a physical trainer or a woman of leisure who could devote all her time to self-care. She owns and operates two residential homes for the elderly. And she exercises daily and watches what she eats.

In case you're wondering, I'm not the svelte 104-pound woman with tight abs I was on my wedding day. Nor am I the size 4 woman I was after my second daughter was born. I've put on a couple dozen pounds since then and yes, I have back fat. I'm a real woman, but Maria Kang is a real woman, too, and we shouldn't bash her because she's in good shape.

Do I envy her body? Yes. But I'm not willing to wake up an hour early every morning to exercise, as she does. Also, I'm quite a bit older and, in true maternal form, I'd put my slowing metabolism in time out if I could. But I can't, and that's my reality. As it happens, my reality is in line with the reality of 99 percent of the women I know. I can either accept it or take out my frustration on the 1 percent. And that would just be sour grapes.


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