‘What’s Your Excuse?’: When A Well-Intentioned Facebook Post Goes Bad

By David Cohen 

MariaKangWhatsYourExcuseOne of the dangers of posting on Facebook and other social media sites is that posts can be taken the wrong way, which is exactly what seems to have happened to Maria Kang, a 32-year-old mother of three and fitness competitor. Kang posted a photo of herself in a workout bra and shorts, with her three kids, showing off her toned body, with the caption, “What’s your excuse?” However, rather than seeing it as motivational, many Facebook users lashed out at Kang.

Kang’s photo had tallied nearly 156,000 likes and nearly 16,000 comments at the time of this post, and it had been shared more than 12,000 times. Yahoo Shine examined some of the comments and found many of the negative variety, including other Facebook users calling her obnoxious, fake, a bad mother, and a bully, although many other Facebook users rallied to her defense, as well.

Negative comments highlighted by Yahoo Shine included:

  • Those precious little things need their mommy more than they need you to have glamour muscles.
  • Not that I *NEED* an excuse for not working out, but here’s mine you self-righteous idiot … fibromyalgia.
  • You are part of the body shaming problem that is going on in North America and other parts of the world.
  • You are a bully with a super inflated sense of your own self.

Yahoo Shine pointed out that several comments expressed support for the photo and for Kang herself, with one in particular reading:

Get a life and leave this woman alone.

Kang spoke with Yahoo Shine about the reactions to the photo, which was actually posted about one year ago, but recently went viral:

I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to say, “I know you think you don’t have time if you have kids. But if I can do it, you can do it, too.”

I think people struggle with their weight. When you add on being a mother — and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit — the expectations are so high. I think some moms saw the picture and just said, “This is ridiculous.” I felt really frustrated. Being called a bad mother and a bad person definitely hurts.

Kang responded to the reactions to her photo by posting a “frequently asked comments” page in which she addresses the most common criticisms, Yahoo Shine reported, including confirming that she has a job (she owns two residential-care facilities for the elderly), she does not have a nanny, the image was not manipulated with Photoshop, and, yes, the kids in the picture are all hers. She also added what she called a “non-apology” to her Facebook post containing the photo:

I’ve been getting an influx of new followers, emails, and comments (on my profile pic) recently. Some saying I’m a bully, I’m fat-shaming, and I need to apologize for the hurt I’ve caused women. I get it. SO here’s my first and final apology:

I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full-time owning two businesses, 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.

What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body, and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them. So if you want to continue “hating” this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life. You can either blame, complain, or obtain a new level of thought by challenging the negative words that come out of your own brain.

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?

Readers: Have you ever posted something on Facebook that has been misinterpreted?