The “What’s Your Excuse” Mommy picture

The following is not new, but I only recently saw it for the first time.


The left picture was posted by the woman in it, Maria Kang, who claims she had three kids in three years and looks slim and toned. It asks, “What’s your excuse?” The one on the right was posted in response by a woman who has a flabby belly but otherwise looks pretty damn fit to me. It answers: “My ‘excuse’ is that I’m okay with this.” I’m with her on that. She’s pretty fit. If getting six pack abs isn’t her top priority right now, maybe that’s because they’re really not important to health.

Kang claims people are misinterpreting it when they see it as putting them down for not looking like Kang. But here’s a reality check: “what’s your excuse” is not a question; it’s a challenge. It’s inherently aggressive. It’s something we say to our kids or our siblings, but not bosses or other authority figures. “What’s your excuse?” is not a phrase that heralds success at diplomatic conventions. It’s meant to put the other person on the defensive and force the person to account.

If Kang had posted this image with, “If I can do this, so can you!” we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We might be discussing whether mothers need anymore pressure than they already have to look like a high school cheerleader despite going through the myriad changes that happen with pregnancy and birth. But we could assume Kang meant well.

As it stands, I don’t assume that at all. Kang claims she meant to excoriate mothers of the guilt they feel for not constantly putting other people first. Well, there are ways to do that and this isn’t one of them. But let’s examine Kang – she’s chosen to make herself a public figure, after all. From the above link:

”There is always so much guilt, it’s important for a mother to really take ownership for who she is, even after motherhood, you don’t have to lose yourself in the process of becoming a mother you still have to keep yourself a priority because you are the head of the family, well the man is the head unless you’re a single parent.”

Ouch. Not exactly a bastion of feminist ideals, is she? Or even of living in the 21st century.

But it’s in Kang’s so-called apology that she really shows what she thinks of women who are less body-obsessed than she is.

I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way.

It’s not an apology when it begins “I’m sorry you…” It immediately shifts the blame to the person for taking your words/actions “the wrong way”, but the very use of this phraseology is pretty much a guarantee that the person took your words/actions precisely the way you meant them.

I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder,

Hey, Kang, have you heard that eating disorders are linked to narcissism? I’m just saying. What? Oh, FFS, I’m sorry you assume I’m calling you a narcissist! I was just making conversation! I’m sorry you read such a negative thing into it.

work full time owning two business’,

Gosh, that sounds difficult… but it’s actually pretty vague. Does she have the sort of job where she sits all day, or the kind where she can be on the treadmill in her office while Skyping with a client?  Does her “job” include golfing with clients? Can she come and go as she pleases, allowing her to go work out when she most feels like it and return to work later? Can she work from home, where she might have gym equipment? All this is very different from, say, being a receptionist who sits all day, same hours every day, and has to ask a co-worker to break her before she can go to the bathroom for two minutes.

have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. I won’t even mention how I didn’t give into cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my growing belly as an excuse to be inactive.

Here’s what’s really bothering her. She perceives other mothers as using pregnancy as an excuse for inactivity. I’ve seen extremely fit, slim, toned, health-conscious women get pregnant and swell up like balloons. I’ve seen them be ordered to bedrest for the health of the fetus inside. I’ve also seen them come back from these mildly difficult pregnancies (I say “mildly” because it can get so much worse) with the same bodies they had before except for a big ol’ tummy. Yes, it’s amazing how after carrying a freakin’ cannonball inside you for months, your tummy might not immediately snap back to six-pack abs. Get right on fixing that, you lazy cow!

What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s Yours.

Actually it’s analysis, not interpretation. And an analysis of your words and actions in this is that you are deeply insecure and obsess over your body not for yourself, but in a desperate attempt to feel you are superior to others.

With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a ‘bigger’ issue than this photo. Maybe it’s time we stop tip-toeing around people’s feelings and get to the point. So What’s Your Excuse?”

…and she ends her “apology” by repeating what she said that offended people in the first place. Not classy at all.

I disagree that obesity is a bigger issue than people putting others down in a doomed attempt to feel better about themselves. That’s what Kang has done, and she needs to take the time to figure out what it is inside her that caused her to have an eating disorder and to feel the need to be so aggressive toward others.

Kang quotes on her website, which I won’t link, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Just speaking for myself, you’re not making me feel inferior, Kang. You’re making me suspect you are an asshole who needs to spend some time dealing with your own issues before you get all up in everybody else’s.


  1. Alex says

    It’s pretty clear this is somebody that is just looking for smug self-gratification rather than offering any real inspiration. In general, I really dislike when I see nominally pro-fitness material done in an accusatory, demeaning way because it only worsens the problem it’s supposedly trying to fix. It’s pushing the causal myth of “skinny = healthy” and feeds into the defeatism of those who, if they’re even genetically built for it, are months or years away from realistically attaining such an image.

    I do think people in the United States (I won’t try to speak outside of that) really need to assess their health, how they physically feel in their day to day lives, and take some sort of action to at least make themselves feel better, but shaming them instead of educating and encouraging them only feeds into that pushback of “I will never look like that, so I’m giving up completely”.

    Sadly, with how the media wants a climate of shame, hopelessness, and depression because it’s way easier to sell useless crap, these kinds of harmful messages will remain the norm.

    • says

      It also ignores the fact that it’s a genuine challenge to find the time and energy for a workout at the same moment when the bulk of your schedule is dictated by what other people need from you. Your kids, your boss, your parents, etc. That’s not an excuse, that’s an actual problem to be solved. Anyone who cares would be advising women on how to solve it, how to find the time and energy, how to feel entitled to ask husbands, friends and family if they can watch the kids for a little bit while you work out. Why doesn’t Kang tell us how she manages it all?

  2. Maartje says

    Hey, I don’t have three (or any) kids and I don’t have a six-pack! And I have the kind of fat-distribution on my body that makes having a six-pack pretty much possible (as opposed to toned thighs). But it’s sooo far from being a priority in my life that I don’t do any of the necesary bits needed to get a flat tummy. I cycle about an hour/hour and a half, five days a week (to the station, to go to Uni) which keeps me fit but crickey, the kind of time required to get a flat tummy, I could use in a hundred more awesome ways. What’s my excuse? I’ve got better things to do.

  3. sbg says

    Ugh, that picture. My excuse is really a choice: even not having had kids, I would have to work out six hours a day and be miserable limiting myself to an unsustainable diet to even come close to looking like that. Genetically, it seems infeasible I’d ever get there. It’s my choice to not work out six hours a day, I am very okay with that and resent the implication of laziness in the “what’s your excuse?” line. More power to her for her hard work. She looks fabulous. She is, however, not me.

    The bottom line really is: not every woman has to have that kind of body, nor should they be expected to.

  4. Gabreilla says

    I agree, I dislike this woman’s attitude. Maybe she has a good metabolism. Maybe she has a job where she burns calories, like a personal trainer or waitress.

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