I can’t say I’m surprised by the controversy generated by Maria Kang. The mom of three recently posted a photo of herself on Facebook looking great in a bikini and surrounded by her three toddler sons, with the caption: What’s your excuse?
She has since apologized to anyone she may have offended but swears that she didn’t mean the question as an insult. “I’m tired of people telling me I was bullying,” she said in the video posted above. “It wasn’t ‘what’s your excuse’ for not looking like me, and if it does say that it’s in your own brain.”
I’m not sure whether to be offended or confused by that last sentence.
Kang, a bikini model, says she lost 40 pounds she had gained with her third child in just eight months. It took a lot of hard work, she admitted, both in the gym and in not giving into cravings for ice cream, French fries, or chocolate.
But she also admitted to battling an eating disorder—bulimia—for years. That often involves binging on gooey, greasy junk food and then spending hours at the gym as a punishment for consuming all those calories.
Kang swears she’s over those habits—and she may very well be.
But in looking at my own group of friends, most of whom, like me, have three or four kids, only one has flat, defined abs like Kang’s with nary a trace of previous pregnancies. Like Kang, she, too, has battled bulimia, spending two to three hours a day in misery on the treadmill trying to achieve perfection.
If given the choice, I think she would add a few extra inches to her waistline and perhaps a little cellulite to her thighs for the chance to free herself from the voice in her head that tells her she has no excuse for focusing on something other than her body.
But Kang can clearly multi-task: She focused on generating publicity and has been doing a very good job at getting some, judging by the 115,000 “likes” on her Facebook page. And she’s still stirring the pot in media interviews and in the posted “apology” on her Facebook page in which she wrote, “I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s Yours.”
I’m not sure Kang will serve as an inspiration for me to whittle my core, but she certainly teaches a valuable lesson. It’s better not to apologize if you don’t mean it.Deborah Kotz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.