October 30, 2013

“Comparison is an Act of Violence Against the Self.” More On Maria Kang.

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.”

~ Iyanla Vanzan

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t chime in on the whole Maria Kang controversy?

You know, the now famous mom, with the six (or more like eight) pack and a trio of adorable kids buttressing the image she posted of herself with the now infamous words, “What’s your excuse?”

Like many of you, I’ve read ej’s Open Letter To Maria Kang, as well as seen the original images, and like many of you, I have an opinion.

For the record, I don’t think anyone is “mommy shaming” or “fat shaming” except ourselves. The visceral and outraged reaction to Kang’s innocent question tells me loud and clear that a lot of women are feeling really badly about themselves and that instead of examining why that may be, they have directed their emotions outward instead.

I too am a mom, and I too struggle with self esteem. I also work out avidly, and though I do so, most certainly do not possess Maria’s enviable abs. But you know what? I don’t begrudge her hers, and I certainly don’t take them personally.

The big issue seems to be not with the image, but with her tag line. People have suggested that if she had some other kind of phrase there, like, “Yay moms! You can do it too!” or “I only look this way because of photoshop”, there wouldn’t have been any problem at all.

Bullshit. There would have been the same problem. It’s just that nobody would have what they perceive as the solid ground to discuss it. Without the words, women would have looked at the photo of Maria and her kids, and silently hated their own bodies rather than speaking up and blaming her for their self hatred.

This is so depressing. Kang is being blamed for making women feel bad, and these women, in turn seek to make her feel bad, thus making themselves feel better. Even when Kang’s critics couch their language in passive aggressive “admiration” of her, what they are really doing is saying, How dare someone excel, take a picture of it and suggest I could (or even should) do the same thing when I am just barely getting through the day here?

Since when does other people’s success make us failures? Can’t we just take it all in stride, and know that we’re all where we are supposed to be?

I’m not saying it’s easy to take such a mature approach. As I mentioned, I struggle with self esteem as much as the next girl. When I went to get a pedicure the other day and was faced with a wall of magazines featuring “bodies after baby”, Princess Kate, Kate Moss, the Kardashian coven (it’s almost Halloween, had to get that word in there somewhere), Gisele and every other woman who ever made me hate myself, I had to make a decision to look away and meditate on my own flawed toes instead.

And while I do blame the media for perpetrating such unrealistic and de-moralizing images of women I realize that a) I can control what I consume and b) Maria Kang isn’t the media, she’s just a person like you and me, trying to do the best she can.

The bottom line is, we need to stop worrying about whatever the hell it is Maria Kang is or isn’t doing or saying and make sure our own houses are in order.

Lead by example. Be the sort of woman you want to be, whatever it is, and know that that’s enough. Don’t insist that everyone play by your rules. Don’t even insist that everyone support you. Find the strength to support yourself. Turn inward.

If the Kangs of the world bother you, remember, it’s not about them. It’s about you.

P.S. I am not including a photoshopped or un-photoshopped picture of my pre, pregnant, or post baby body. Judge me by my words alone, know that I am imperfect without the photographic proof. I am me, in all my flawed and stretch marked glory, you are you and that’s all we really need to know.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


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