We Can ALL Be Role Models

April 5th, 2014 by Dionna | 5 Comments
Posted in Healthy Living, natural parenting

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Sara 2 FINAL

I’m not sure what Nightline will air tonight (see the promo here, and see a blog post from Paula Faris, the correspondent we spent time with). The experience was a positive one for me, as it was for my friend Sara, who graciously allowed Nightline to follow her family around for two days. (Read Sara’s thoughts about Kang here and about our individual journeys here.) I appreciated the chance to talk to Maria Kang face to face about her infamous “What’s Your Excuse” poster and the article I wrote about it for HuffPo. Fortunately, I try not to write anything that I would not say to someone sitting right next to me, so I was not embarrassed to rehash it with her sitting across the table.

Before the show airs, though, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you, just in case the message I hoped to convey is lost in editing.

In the conversation that led up to the article I wrote for Huffington Post, my friends and I were simply expressing a dissatisfaction with our perception that Maria Kang’s “What’s Your Excuse” devalued the priorities of other women.

We were also dismayed that the picture under the “What’s Your Excuse” tagline appeared to put more of a focus on Maria’s body than on her message. I get the impression that Maria does not understand why people talk about her looks when referring to the pictures of her body. In Maria’s recent post on her No Excuse Mom Movement, for example, she said, “Even the most articulate blogs can’t pose a good argument without using the word ‘look’ in it – as if I’m suggesting people should look like me. And why not focus on my looks, right?”

What we tried to explain is that in our culture that idealizes the perfectly sculpted size 2 female body, when a fitness poster targets new moms and asks them for their excuses – and when that poster’s context is a beautifully sculpted new mom – it can set women up to feel shame and failure.

Maria’s response to that explanation was, “but is that my fault?” No, of course it’s not. It is not her fault that women are constantly bombarded with what we should look like. It’s not Maria’s fault that our culture frequently blames mothers for every real and perceived fault of children and families. But for many women, that particular photo coupled with the “What’s Your Excuse” tagline is simply part of a larger culture of shame and blame.

I know that Maria was not trying to shame women when she chose the picture or the tagline. I tried to make that very clear to her. All we hoped for was that she recognize the thousands of voices who had expressed dismay, that she empathize with the women who are doing all they can right now, that she understand that we can all be role models, regardless of whether we are a size 4, 14, or 24.

And whatever airs tonight, please hear this: we are here to support you wherever you are. We are here to love you first – whatever your size, whatever your priorities, no excuses necessary.

We want to empower you to make your health and fitness a priority not because someone is telling you that you need to, not out of a sense of shame, but because you want to take care of you. Because we believe that genuine, positive, lifelong change will be more attainable when you love yourself from the inside out.

5 Responses to:
"We Can ALL Be Role Models"

  1. Pat

    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

    Women and their self-talk are their own worst enemy. Giving power to the infographic projects power onto the cultural objectification of women. There is no need to defend against something if we don’t give it power.


    • It’s interesting that you use that quote, Pat, because Maria has also quoted the same thing :)
      Of course I don’t mean to promote the objectification of women. I wrote about it to help others see why some women felt shamed by the picture. Again, I don’t think that was Maria’s intent, and I don’t think women need to feel shame if they are not in the same shape as Maria. But shaming is real, and it won’t go away if we simply ignore it, wouldn’t you agree?

  2. Debra G

    It seems to me that if you didn’t want to see that picture, you shouldn’t follow her on Facebook. She posted that on her page to her followers. Personally, I didn’t feel shamed by it. I felt inspired, and I’m very overweight.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Debra! Maria’s photo was posted in a public space where it would knowingly be shared with non-members of her site. As a business owner, Maria knew that and is also actively marketing to seek new members. The second picture, in fact, was in direct response to all of the feedback (positive and negative) she received from the first picture.
      It is great you were inspired. Good luck in your journey!

  3. Terri Serhal

    Dionna oh my I wanted to tell you I saw the picture of your son in the post about him still breastfeeding and he has the temporary tattoo you posted it back in 2011 He is my little boys twin! I kid you not they look almost identical!

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