fat-shaming is never inspiring
I’m sure a lot of you have heard the hoopla around Maria Kang and her “fitspiration” faux pas that has lead to all sorts of backlash across the interwebs. It all started when she posted a photo of herself and her three children. Her very skinny, perfect self. With the headline: What’s your excuse.
Hmmm, I can see why people got upset. Not everyone can be as perfect as Maria after having three kids right in a row. I know I didn’t and I had three kids just like she did, one right after the other. Then again I was never thin before I started having kids.
My oldest three kids–Meagan, Owen and Brenna–were born in 2000, 2001 and 2002, respectively. There is 28 months (2 years, 4 months) between Meagan and Brenna (and only 13 months between Owen and Brenna). All three of them were c-sections. Yes, I had three c-sections in just over two years.
Here’s a picture of me right after my third child was born. You can’t see my stomach but trust me it was all hanging out. During my pregnancy with Owen (#2) my abdominal muscles split right down the middle (ouch) making it impossible for me to suck my stomach in. I got pregnant with Brenna right away so they didn’t start to heal until she was almost two.
Back then exercising and staying fit were the last things on my mind. I was busy with three babies/toddlers in diapers and making bottles and cooking, cleaning, laundry (oh, the never ending laundry) and dealing with my debilitating depression. My husband worked as much overtime as he could get so there could be days where we didn’t see him at all. And I had no other help. It was just me and the kids all day long. There was never time to exercise. When the kids laid down for a nap I was either cleaning or resting because I was exhausted. Yeah, those were my excuses and I’m sticking with them. I was doing the best I could.
Almost 11 years later (that teeny baby in the picture will turn 11 in a couple weeks) and nothing much as changed except that I added two more children, moved 2000 miles from my hometown and had a nervous breakdown that almost ended with me swallowing a bottle of pills.
A friend of a friend wrote this article over a Huffington Post about the whole kerfuffle. She also started a meme of her own on Tumblr and Facebook. If you look right now my photo is at the top of both sites. And I’m proud.
It’s true. The picture may have been taken over two years ago but my kids tell me every day how pretty I am and how much they love me just as I am. My husband also thinks I’m beautiful and sexy just as I am even though I’ve gained about 50lbs over the 14 years we’ve known each other.
Personally, I don’t really fault Maria Kang for her photo. It wasn’t meant for the general public and I think people are blowing the thing way out of proportion. Women, especially, are getting their panties in a twist. I guess maybe I’m secure in my fatness after all my 36 years. I’ve been overweight since I was a kid. But I’m pretty healthy–blood pressure is fine, no diabetes, I love to walk (although I have trouble finding time, especially in the winter when it’s raining constantly). Yes, I know I’m obese and my knee wouldn’t flare up if I lost thirty pounds. But this is who I am.
Fat-shaming will never inspire a fat person to lose weight. Most likely it will have the opposite effect–they’re likely to pull out that pint of Hagan Dazs and finish it off. Or pop open a family sized bag of potato chips and eat almost all of them. Or they might just wish they were dead because they will never be as perfect as Maria Kang and no excuse will ever be good enough for those people that do the fat-shaming.
The only way someone is going to lose weight and get in shape is if they want it. Really, really want it on an elemental level. They can’t want it for someone else (so their husband will think they are sexier). They can’t want it because society thinks they should be thin. They have to want it at the core of their being because they know they will be healthier and happier and free of the weight holding them down. It takes a lot of strength and will-power. I know, I’ve tried it and lost over 20lbs but I’ve never gotten lower than that.
My real excuses (in case Maria Kang was wondering):
- I have had six pregnancies and five births–all c-sections (my fifth pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage in the waiting room bathroom at the hospital).
- I had my first three kids in just over two years, never giving my body time to recover (just like Maria Kang except I started at about 60lbs overweight).
- I’ve suffered from severe clinical depression, general anxiety and severe social anxiety my entire life. It was untreated until two years ago after I almost killed myself because life had become too much for me. Had I seen her poster back then it might have pushed me over the edge. The depression left me uninterested in life, in pain, and unable to cope with stress.
- I’m anemic. Apparently I have been since I started having kids 13 years ago except I never had it treated until a few months ago. As my iron builds up the more energy I have. That paired with my increasingly good mood thanks to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication has given me a new look on life, a want to change me to the person I always should have been (but depression stole from me).
- I’m a stay-at-home-mom with a toddler at home. I can’t make it to the gym whenever I want. Sure I can do simple exercises but at this weight just cleaning the house can leave me worn out. Something thin/fit people don’t seem to understand is that exercise when you are obese is hard. Really, really hard. It’s hard on your joints, breathing and energy levels. You can’t just jump up and run a few miles to counteract that big lunch you had. You do what you can but a lot of people get frustrated, depressed and unmotivated.
- I’m a writer. No, I haven’t published anything (yet), but I plan to some day. Writing means sitting in a chair… writing.
- And, really, I don’t give a fuck half the time. Who cares what I look like? I’m the person that has to live in my body and why is it anyone else’s business if I exercise or sit in front of the TV eating bon-bons. You can see from my picture that my kids did not get my genes and I have taught them better habits than my parents taught me. They are all skinny as heck (a few of them underweight and needing to eat more fatty food–which is fun when you’re cooking and you need low/fat-free foods).
So to Maria Kang and all the fat-haters and fat-shamers out there I want to say:
I don’t need an excuse because I’m perfect just the way I am. And it’s nobody’s business but my own.
To all the overweight/obese women (and men) who feel ashamed or despondent, who can’t find the energy or the want, who saw Maria Kang’s poster and didn’t feel inspired but instead felt shame or inferior, I say there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfect the way you are. If you want to lose weight–you are perfect. If you hope some day to look like Maria Kang–you are perfect. If you are skinny or fit and had to work for it–you are perfect. If you are skinny or fit and it’s natural–you are perfect. If you don’t really care about your weight–you are perfect. If you want to lose weight but can’t find the energy within–you are perfect.