“Health” comes in more than one body shape and size.

March 18th, 2014 by Dionna | 4 Comments
Posted in Healthy Living, natural parenting

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Dionna 1 final

This week, here and at Huffington Post, I’ve been thinking about Maria Kang’s “What’s your excuse” campaign for her new “No Excuse Mom: Health Starts At Home” program.

Kang’s #whatsyourexcuse meme has stirred up considerable controversy.

Many of Kang’s detractors are offended by the implication that one needs an excuse for not looking like she does. Kang appears to be physically fit; but you do not have to look like Kang to be fit or healthy.

“Healthy” can look like a number of different shapes, sizes, and body types. BMI is “not the end-all-be-all. . . . Your weight is a reflection of a complex list of factors above and beyond your food and activity factors. Also important are genetics, family history, gender, age, body composition, sleep habits, stress levels and more. Remember that some factors we can change while others are factors we have little control over.”1

Howard Schatz did a fascinating series of photos of athletes, many in their prime and at the top of their game. Even among those who presumably lead a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly, there is a wide range of body types. (See several of his photos at Huffington Post, Bored Panda, more at Schatz’s site, buy the book via Amazon.)

Sara 2 FINAL

What’s more, many women are disheartened to learn that they may never regain their pre-baby bodies, because their shape – their very bone structure – is permanently altered. “Our bodies often change shape permanently after giving birth,” says Judy DiFiore, author of The Complete Guide to Postnatal Fitness.2

And yet our society puts tremendous pressure on women to quickly lose the baby weight and reach some culturally predetermined vision of perfection. We can resist culturally unhealthy stereotypes; we can choose to celebrate how “babies ruin bodies.”

Kang asserts that she “want[s] moms to feel empowered, supported and motivated.” The #whatsyourexcuse hashtag misses the mark.


Photo Details:

Dionna (Code Name: Mama)
Sara (Reno Ranch Dog Rescue)
Photographed and altered by Tom Ford (Code Name: Papa). See more “We Don’t Need an Excuse” pictures at Huffington Post.

  1. Andrea Holwegner, for the Calgary Herald, The perfect weight? Sept. 27, 2012
  2. Back in Shape After Birth

4 Responses to:
"“Health” comes in more than one body shape and size."

  1. Sibylle

    Body acceptance is such an important topic. I was a fat child, and I grew into a fat adult. It has always, always, always been a sore point to me. But with time I have learned that my values were what defined me, my kindness, my compassion, and not my body. I hope your children know that from the start.

  2. Katie

    While Kang was marketing her own brand, and therefore used herself in the publicity, if she is truly for health, not body image, then a different series of pictures might have worked to motivate women to make healthy choices without making them feel inadequate.


    1) To help people unplug at home, a picture of the iPhone in the foreground on silent while the family in the background sits down to dinner–busy exec who makes time for family

    2) To advocate getting enough sleep, a picture of a sleeping mom with a list of her unchecked to-dos, showing that sleep is a priority

    3) To advocate getting active, a woman in track shoes and a suit walking on a path

    Rather than acting as though our busy lives are excuses for not being skinny, or being made to feel that’s what we’re doing, maybe a better tagline for us would be “What can wait?” That, at least, would acknowledge the reality that energy and time are finite, and something has to give.

  3. Those who are spewing negativity towards Maria Kang, aren’t taking a few seconds to find out what her mission is all about.

    This vision has absolutely NOTHING with “fat shaming”, it is simply about helping moms make healthy food choices and be more active in a society that embraces a sedentary lifestyle and quick meals in order to have “more quality family time”. Fact of the matter is – health and nutrition is incredibly important, especially with the increase of health related diseases.

    People are simply making judgements and based on a single image with tagline that they find offensive in some way or another (personally, I find the “parenting with respect” one offensive…really? A parent can rear their children with respect and still make health and fitness part of their lifestyle. Maria is completely family oriented and only dedicates a very small portion of her day actually working out, but you wouldn’t know that unless you knew her personally). She does realize that health does not come in a size 2 “cookie-cutter” form. Her body is hers and she achieved it mostly by eating well and keeping active. Of course, not all of us would look like her if we ate what she ate and exercised like she did…she is simply making the statement that the physical and mental demands of motherhood is not an excuse to completely disregard health and fitness, something that has actually given us MORE energy, less stress, and quality time (spent outside playing vs. in front of a tv) with our families.

    I have the utmost respect for Maria, who has started a world-wide movement with free workout groups and resources for moms around the world to help them feel better about themselves and provide their family with the most fulfilling life possible.

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