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Hot Mom/What’s Your Excuse Viral Photo

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As much as I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon on controversial topics, seeing ‘“hot mom defends herself against Facebook ‘haters'” struck a nerve. Really, I hate that I let this get under my skin!

3 under 3. I’m not sure if the implication is that if she (Maria Kang, the woman in the photo) looks like this after having three children in such a short time, or if it’s that she finds the time to work out with 3 little ones, you have no excuse. Maybe both. I think it was intended to be motivational, not malicious, but I have issues with the message and its effect on women.

Based on her website’s FAQs, she seems to have an awful lot of support. She spends 30-60 minutes at the gym (she says she likes to get there by 6:30) while her children are sleeping, getting them up at 8 (many of us don’t get that much time to ourselves in a day!) and clearly someone watches her children while she visits the residential facilities she owns, and has meetings, because I don’t see that going well with 3 children in tow. Having that kind of support alone would be huge. According to the Yahoo article, her husband does not work, and I can only assume that he is helping with laundry, dishes and child care, not sleeping until noon and playing video games.

While I understand the sentiment (I think?) and she’s definitely become infamous famous, if that was her goal, but I think this missed the mark. I won’t harp on her physical appearance. Women come in all shapes & sizes, including 6-pack abs. Some women get stretch marks during pregnancy, some don’t. Some women already have stretch marks thanks to puberty! Whether she works incredibly hard, if she has great genes, a great support system, or a combination, I won’t fault her for looking fit. Not all of us can look that way, and you can be healthy without washboard abs! It’s important to be healthy, for your sake and your children’s. That doesn’t mean looking like a Sport’s Illustrated model.

I don’t like the implication that you have to look like she does in order to be happy and healthy. Let’s ignore the fact that I have the least elastic skin on the face of the earth. Yes, pregnancy stretched out my skin and the thinner I get, the grosser my stomach. Even if I had a “6-pack” you couldn’t see it under my loose skin. Not only that, but I am simply not genetically predisposed to that type of body. Back in the days when I was a stay at home mom, had only one child and lived in a neighborhood (super easy to exercise), my weight was at the very bottom of the BMI scale, I had very little body fat and I ran/trained nearly every day. I was strong, I felt fantastic, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were amazing. I didn’t look like that.

Truth be told, I’m fine with that. Sure, I’d love a tummy tuck, but my goal has always been to be healthy and feel great. I can’t change my body type and I can’t change my genetics. These days, I eat good food, and get my exercise by pushing my kids on the swings, hauling laundry baskets up and down the stairs, wrestling with fitted sheets, and carrying my four year old and his brother when my older son’s legs “get tired.” 😉 I am hoping we’ll be able to move back into a neighborhood again so I can get back to easily exercising. For the record, I’m also perfectly healthy and thin enough that the “real women have curves” type things can sting a little.

Not all children sleep through the night, or alone, or nap and that’s not because the mom did something “wrong.” Not all mothers are OK with leaving their kids in a gym daycare, and not everyone can afford a gym membership nor the gas to get there. Some moms get support from their spouses or family, others do it all themselves. There will always be someone who has a smart reply for these concerns, and the be-all-end-all ends up being “well then you shouldn’t have had kids…” *sigh* You just can’t judge until you’ve run a 5k walked a mile in another mama’s shoes.

Things like this are a punch in the gut for women struggling to get through the day, and who would choose sleep if they had an hour to themselves! It adds to the pressure on mothers to be absolutely perfect in every way. You must be dressed and put together every day, with your hair done and makeup on, your house must be spotless, you have to have Pinterest worthy meals, decorations & birthday parties, your children must be perfectly clean & dressed. Still, you can’t win because if you have a clean house, are in good shape etc., you must not love your kids because “real mothers” have stretch marks and sticky floors and cobwebs. In fact, Maria Kang’s website also states that she will do lunges or jump rope while her kids are playing at the park. I’m pretty sure someone will find that as reprehensible as if she had been checking work emails on her phone!

So my excuse? My 3 children, my genetics, and lack of money for plastic surgery. If you are able to “bounce back” after 3 kids, whether through hard work or genetics, good for you. I mean that as genuinely as possible, not in a snarky “GOOD for YOU” way. What’s more important is to take care of yourself. Be active in any way that you can, even if that’s just playing tag in the backyard with your children. Some moms have no trouble losing weight even while nursing but for others, their body clings to the weight (I can’t shake the last 5ish pounds while I’m still nursing.) Nursing mamas need to feed themselves in order to feed their babies, and shouldn’t necessarily be focused on a model-perfect body.

I “see” your hot mom (literally, I see it, not in the poker sense) and I raise you a tired, un-showered, crazy haired, coffee drinking, tired mom. (So tired that I said tired twice-and that makes 4.)

Tired mom via @chgdiapers

What do you think about this photo?


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
35 Comments
  • November 13, 2013 at 10:01 am
    Reply

    […] he wakes up. I generally get maybe 5 hours of interrupted sleep per night and perhaps it’s my “excuse” but I’m barely functioning as it is; I can’t give up another hour sleep do go exercise […]

  • November 1, 2013 at 2:34 am
    Reply

    I think her picture is great and your picture is great! I can see how it can be motivational or offensive but to me it’s just a beautiful picture. I also have 3 kids a 5 year old, a 2 year old and a 2 moth old. I would like to have nice abs but I know it’s never gonna happen because honestly I don’t want to work out. We all live different lives though so my opinion is GO MOMMIES! We are (almost) all pretty awesome.

  • October 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm
    Reply

    I didn’t really care about it. Mostly I am just envious she has child help so she can go to the gym. I love the gym. And I do go. But it IS at the expense of my family and always will be unless I am bestowed with a babysitter. Therefore I don’t grt enough gym time to be hot. My husband leaves for work before the gym opens. He gets home at a time that makes me miss my kids dinner and bedtime in order to work out. There is no one else to watch them. It is what it is. So basically I don’t mind the pic, but she sure has a sweet setup.

  • Mary D
    October 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm
    Reply

    The thing that bothers me about this photo is the assumption that if you don’t look like that it’s because you are making excuses. Setting aside the fact that even healthy and fit women come in all shapes and sizes, the fact that we have different incomes and amounts of help etc etc, what about the fact that we have different priorities? When I first saw the photo on my FB feed I did feel a little bad about myself, it’s true. I thought that if I just tried harder I could look more like super-fit Mary and less like post-partum-even-though-the-baby’s-one Mary. But I quickly talked myself off that ledge because, no, I don’t need to “try harder.” Being super-fit is not one of my priorities right now. I feel enough guilt about failing at the things that ARE my priorities, I don’t need to be guilted about failing at things that aren’t! So to answer her question, I’m not making excuses, just different choices.

  • Laura B
    October 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm
    Reply

    I think taking the photo at face value is pretty unrealistic and just feeds in to American women always feeling inadequate. I’m one of those people who would follow my doctor’s diet recommendations and exercise sometimes 7 days a week and could never look anywhere close to that. It took me a long, long time to be able to accept that. Aside from being healthy, which is most important, if you feel comfortable with who you are then that is all that really matters and I can only hope my little girl due in December can be strong enough with who she is to not fall victim to the “perfect examples” that are thrown at us from every possible angle.

  • Jennifer M
    October 24, 2013 at 1:03 pm
    Reply

    Similar to Holli G, my main issue is with the caption, more than the picture. To say ‘what’s your excuse?’, is to negatively challenge others in her position (mom of multiple young children) rather than inspire them to do what they are able (and want) to better themselves and their family. For what do any of us need to have an excuse?

  • abedabun dawn
    October 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm
    Reply

    All I can say is Im happy for her. We all have things in our lives that work for us. Hers just happens to be a fantastic body and determination to maintain it. Mine is giving my grand daughter the best childhood that I can,. I already gave her dad a great childhood 🙂 . I never fault anyone for working hard for what they want/need. And as long as her children are not being neglected, I say go for it. I mean no disrespect to anyone! We all have our opinions.

  • Tara
    October 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm
    Reply

    Frankly I’m indifferent to her photo and message. (whatever it may actually be) I’ve been hormonal and in quite a funk recently. I’m lucky to change out of my pajamas, shower, and comb my hair. I’m exhausted. I’m not losing another second of sleep to run off to the gym at this point. I just don’t have it in me.

  • Holli G.
    October 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for posting this. This picture isn’t inspirational in any way. I think the language of “what’s your excuse?” is what sends me over the edge. It could have been better said. Though maybe one doesn’t see that women go through different trials to get where she is after birth. I don’t find it beautiful but others might. Not saying I wouldn’t take a picture of myself if I looked that great after three kids, but I wouldn’t post it and not in that language either. From where I have been and where I am now I have no reason to be condescending on anyone’s body type.

  • October 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm
    Reply

    Oh my gosh, AMEN! The photo has been bothering me, and I wasn’t too impressed with her response to it, either. My thoughts are that for some people that kind of photo and message are motivating, but for other people (and I’m one of them!) that is the OPPOSITE of motivating! I find ALL of those fitness poster DE-motivating, because it makes me feel so bad about myself. I like what you said, that if her goal is really to help people, than offering tips and suggestions for how to work exercise into a busy day would probably bring more actual change to the average (not fitness-obsessed) woman. But making it sound as though anybody who doesn’t look like her is “bad” or “lazy” or anything else negative is hurtful. There are a lot of moms with a lot of plates to juggle. I can’t even get the stuff on my current to-do list done each day AND get more than 6 hours of sleep (which to me is 2 hours too few to function well already!) Adding an intense exercise regiment just means something else will have to go, and I can’t see what that would be at this point. Do I want to be fit and healthy? Absolutely. I’m working on that. But having someone show how much “better” they are than me just makes me think, “Well, why bother, then?” If she can look like that with 3 small children, then that’s great. But I shouldn’t be made to feel badly because I know my limitations, and don’t have a body that looks like that. I have plenty of other things to show for how I spend my time, and that’s my own choice, and it’d be nice if we could all just respect each other’s choices without having to shove people’s noses in it.

  • October 24, 2013 at 11:59 am
    Reply

    My immediate reaction to the photo of Maria Kang is “that woman is obsessed with her body.” And no person on Earth should be, because the body is just one part of being human. It’s not the end all and be all. Being healthy is good. Losing excess weight is good. Flaunting your body is NOT good. Vanity is NOT good. Building an online empire that revolves around your physique is not good. In short, she’s sending bad messages to girls and women everywhere (probably the exact opposite of what she was trying to accomplish).

    The fact that Kang is doing lunges while her children are playing at the park speaks worlds to me. The woman can’t just sit back and watch her children have fun without thinking she has to be honing her 6-pack. So while some might find her inspirational or motivational, I believe she has serious issues with arrogance and obsession that need to be addressed. Nobody likes a bragger….and you’ll win more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    Maria, you are spot on with your observations!

    • October 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm
      Reply

      That is a very astute observation. Again, I do not want to shame her either but I did see that she has suffered from an eating disorder in the past, and sometimes an obsession with fitness can be part of that, even if you aren’t restricting calories or binging/purging. Again, I am NOT saying that’s what is going on with her at all, I don’t know her. 🙂

      • October 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm
        Reply

        Definitely something to consider. In fact, I would imagine that her experience with eating disorders may be contributing to a continued and distorted view of the body. I know it takes a very long time to fully move past that.

  • Michelle F.
    October 24, 2013 at 11:41 am
    Reply

    I guess I’m the odd ball out and find her motivating. I can totally see how it could seem hurtful to some but she didn’t say she looked like that right after he had all 3 babies.I have 2 kids (4 and 2), a blog, a small business, and my hubby works all day and goes to bed early (7-8) to do it all over again and I still manage to work out 5 days a week. Does that make me a bad mom? No. When my kids are awake I am focused on them. I totally get what you’re saying and am not disagreeing at all. It just feels like mommy wars about yet another topic. Nobody should feel bad about themselves for the choices they make as a mom (unless of course it’s harming your child). She shouldn’t, you shouldn’t, and I shouldn’t. Idk what exactly I’m trying to say I just find her motivating and don’t think her intentions were as bad as some think.

    • October 24, 2013 at 11:53 am
      Reply

      I completely agree with Michelle on this one.
      I know you weren’t implying she was a bad mom, Maria. And she’s NOT. She just does things differently. Her house might be spotless and she might workout 7 days a week. Or her house might be a complete wreck and she still looks damn good because she puts it on a back burner for her health. Both of these are fine!

      Everyone is different and everybody choose different things to do with their time. I sit my ass on a computer, blogging, watch t.v. and knit most of my day. Besides doing the household chores of course.
      I am not offended by this. She put time and work into how she looks and that is totally acceptable. I don’t find it degrading at all.

      Hell I sit at home all day and my house is a wreck haha!

    • October 24, 2013 at 11:55 am
      Reply

      I agree that I think the intention was to motivate, I just think this was harmful to many women. Maybe a better way to motivate would be to offer tips for moms who DO want to work out, but need help. Offering exercises you can do quietly while your kiddos are asleep, suggestions to make everyday activities more of a workout etc. Also a reminder that you can be fit & healthy without spending hours upon hours at the gym, that it takes TIME to get fit, and not everyone will look like that.

      • Michelle Lee
        October 26, 2013 at 8:54 am
        Reply

        Yeah, she definitely should have picked a different tagline for the photo if she wanted to motivate.

    • October 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm
      Reply

      Michelle, you are definitely not the only one.

      I have been a follower of Maria Kang for a while now and recently started a fitness & health blog with my husband. Personally, I think that the attacks on her (and others like her) are ridiculous…and flat out mean. For instance, many are labeling her a “bad mom” for spending time at the gym (which is somewhere between 5-6 hours per week) and working on her physique. How is that so bad? I certainly was not a bad mom for waking up 2 hours early to head to the gym while my boys were with their dad. Excercise has been an important factor in my life, I have drastically changed my diet, actually feel more energetic (I haven’t had a single energy drink or cup of coffee in the past 3 months), less depressed, and less stressed…and the side benefits of losing weight has greatly strengthened my confidence.

      She meant nothing hurtful by this photo. In fact, what she really meant to say was “what is your excuse for not excercising?”. Whatever meaning someone took from that photo was simply their own thinking. For me, this photo has been quite an inspiration for me as a once tired mom of two young boys. If anything, she makes the dream of being slender and fit more attainable compared to a celebrity who has personal chefs, trainers, etc. Personally, I have no excuse for not excercising. my husband and I decided to cur back on certain expenses to afford a gym membership with childcare. of course, no one needs a gym to stay fit.

      As a blog follower of hers, I also know that she does give advice to moms who cannot find time for the gym as well as started a non-profit that offers a free mom fitness class.

      Why is Maria Kang so incredibly passionate about fitness? Her mother became a diabetic in her twenties, had strokes in her thirties, and died in her forties. She doesn’t want her kids to experience the same. I have recently held onto the same belief that excercise and eating clean are very important…especially since cancer, diabetes, and obesity seems to run rampant in my family. I hope that I can inspire others around me to so the same and want to continue to run and hike until the day I die. Personally, if my mom died in her forties, I am sure I would have been even more strict on diet and exercise.

      I personally do not like to point fingers at obese or overweight people in disgust, nor do I point at people like Kang (who actually does have stretch marks) for acheiving what she has.

      As moms (or people in general) we don’t need to have a lean and sculpted body, but kudos (and I don’t mean those candy bars) to those who acheive what they want to acheive. If others want to sit back and enjoy their life as they see fit, then so be it, it wasn’t their dream anyway. We do not like it when we are judged harshly for anything that we do (not saying that you have, but many others have), so we should give others the same respect.

      I hope that did not sound harsh, because I love your blog & posts…I just wish that there wasn’t so much negativity surrounding this.

      • October 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm
        Reply

        I tend to read & re-read & re-read again to try to make sure there’s no way I could offend someone, yet I think I still manage to do it. I have a feeling that it just didn’t occur to her that her true message would be missed if this was the *only* thing anyone had ever seen of her. As I said, I think I understand the intent, and I’m sure it *did* make some people think about their reasons for not exercising. The “in your face” physique in the image vs. just the idea that you should be active & healthy, is a blow for moms still mourning their pre-pregnancy bodies, especially since many of us thought we were “fat” back then! I would never call her a bad mom and as I said, I don’t fault her for looking great; I think that’s fantastic. I think it’s very easy to say “If I can do it anyone can” etc. etc. but you truly don’t know everyone’s situation.

        • AlannaB
          October 24, 2013 at 11:29 pm
          Reply

          I wasn’t offended by your post at all…and remember that you cannot always please people – which is displayed quite frequently in the mommy wars that occur natural parenting vs. other parenting world 🙂

          I guess I should have mentioned that I was speaking of others that I have come across (and hoping that they could look at this from a different point of view)…which were horrible. Your post was very well written, and genuine, and you did not accuse her of being a “bad mom”. I guess what I was trying to say in my long rambling is that so many are quick to judge a person that they do not know and how they spend their time. How she wants to look is her choice, but one shouldn’t instantly think that she is doing it out of vanity…which I am not accusing you of either.

          As someone who has struggled with eating disorders and PPD, I know how tough it is to get through that time, and luckily I had some very supportive people by my side. I learned to be comfortable with my body, but it wasn’t enough for me. I had always been slender and I only wanted to lose weight to feel confident about myself/ After I started eating better and dropping weight, I became more confident and sometimes that comes across as a little too confident (which I try to limit), because it does make you feel good. When I stopped eating food or forced myself to throw it up…I felt like I had “control”. Now that I run 5 days per week I feel like I have a more positive way of “control”, and it truly is refreshing. So I can definitely see where she is coming from. I do agree that the text on the picture may offend some, but I interpreted it differently.

          In a post I wrote, I spoke of the “double standard” that our society has. When I was at the gym a few days ago, The Biggest Loser was on and their was an obese woman who mentioned that she was severely depressed and wanted to look good for her husband. We will be cheering this woman on all season for her weight loss (who left her family for a period of time), but we see a picture of someone (airbrushed of course) and are quick to pass on judgement. If the obese woman in the show posted a picture like that, would she receive the same amount of criticism? Maybe, maybe not.

          Again, I did enjoy your post…I was just giving others something to think about.

          • October 25, 2013 at 8:13 am

            Thanks for taking the time to follow up. 🙂 You said this very well. I’ve had pregnancy weight gain & weight loss on my lists of posts to write for a year or more, but never got around to it. I had a similar experience, and I never felt better than I did when I was exercising regularly. I commented to my husband that it is better (and cheaper) than meds/therapy for me. Not that exercise is a replacement for those things, but in my case it really kind of was. 🙂

  • Jessica Hughes
    October 24, 2013 at 11:24 am
    Reply

    If I had seen this picture after the birth of my first child, I would have burst into tears. I had PPD and simply getting out of bed was a victory for me. Now that I have two kids and can look at it through a less clouded lens, it simply bugs me. And I can’t help but think there are new moms (or second or third time moms) out there going through what I went through and feeling awful because they’ve seen this picture.

  • Beth
    October 24, 2013 at 11:07 am
    Reply

    Love the picture, the applesauce hair is awesome!

    • October 24, 2013 at 11:26 am
      Reply

      It was a toss up between the applesauce hair or a yogurt hair pic. 😉

  • Joanie
    October 24, 2013 at 10:16 am
    Reply

    My excuse is that I have no desire to spend my time like that. I have the money for a gym membership, my husband has work hours where he could easily watch our son while I was gone, and I could probably USE a little extra exercise, but guess what? I would rather spend that time refinishing furniture, taking photographs, or cooking elaborate freezer meals.

    I could EASILY post a photo of a weeks worth of organic and local gourmet breakfast, lunches, and dinners skillfully prepared and arranged for my family and ask the question “What’s your excuse?” Well, everyone else’s reasons for not being able to (or not wanting to) cook like that would be EXACTLY the same as they were for this washboard mom’s photo. No resources, no money, no time, no whatever.

    The difference between me and her is that I understand that not everyone can do what I do and I have no reason to rub my accomplishments in other’s faces. Its pointless. Now if I had a food blog with something to gain from a media crap storm of angry moms I might feel more motivated to do so.

    Oh wait. No, I still wouldn’t. Shame is the worst kind of motivator.

    • October 24, 2013 at 10:36 am
      Reply

      LOVE it. Wish I could “like” this comment. 🙂

    • October 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm
      Reply

      Oh yeah, what Joanie said! I mean, who likes to be shamed?

      And she’s shaming mothers, for goodness sakes! I mean, pregnancy and motherhood are challenging enough without having this woman getting in your face and screaming that your less-than-perfect body is unacceptable.

    • Michelle Lee
      October 26, 2013 at 8:51 am
      Reply

      I LOVE this comment! My thoughts exactly!

  • Kate
    October 24, 2013 at 9:51 am
    Reply

    Thank you for pointing out the “holding onto weight while nursing” issue. I hold onto 10 lbs while nursing which gradually disappears with no changes in my behavior/eating habits after my kids wean (before my second pregnancy I was actually down 5 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight) . It gets a little frustrating when nursing is constantly held up as this magic bullet for weight loss.

    • October 24, 2013 at 10:11 am
      Reply

      Ditto. I wish breastfeeding worked as weight loss for me, LOL!

  • Lily Ivey
    October 24, 2013 at 9:47 am
    Reply

    Thank you for another great well-written post. I personally know a mom just like this and it’s great for her. It really is. But her MIL watches her kids for free everyday so she can go to the gym. Um, yeah… that’s not happening here.

    • October 24, 2013 at 9:49 am
      Reply

      That would be really nice! Lucky lady!

  • October 24, 2013 at 9:41 am
    Reply

    My problem with the photo is that is isn’t supportive in any way.

    First of all, not everyone WANTS to look like that. I don’t. She looks great, for her, but I don’t want that. Second, not everyone has time to work out. I know I sure don’t! I’m a single mother with no one to watch my daughter, I volunteer multiple times a week, blog, spend a minimum of a few hours a day helping my (temporarily) disabled neighbor, I babysit my brother several times a week, AND I foster newborn kittens. Right now I have 6 which need to be fed every 4 hours and it takes me an hour to feed them all. I do not have the time to spend an hour a day in the gym. By the time I get a chance to sit down I’m too tired to blink. Third, no matter what I do, I will NEVER look like that. I have extremely wide set hips/pelvic area. My hip bones stick out way past my shoulders and have since I was in high school. I weighed 115 pounds in high should and was stick thin, but I still looked fat because my lower half is so wide. And I’m okay with that. I don’t have to be thin and fit to be healthy and beautiful.

    Her original intention may have been good. But she’s made it clear multiple times since then that she doesn’t care who she has hurt or offended. I think pictures like this contribute to eating disorders and body shaming, both in children and adults.

    • October 24, 2013 at 9:48 am
      Reply

      I think you just expressed my feelings better than I did! 🙂

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