Body Accountability

I’m a little late on this one but I want to talk about the backlash to Maria Kang over her impressive body photos and what it says about the American woman that Kang was taken to such task for having a statuesque figure.

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It doesn’t count as ‘body-shaming’ if when you look at the person you feel ashamed of YOUR body.

The main arguments against Kang’s supposedly pushy and judgmental photo, one in which she hovers gloriously over her three sons and asks, ‘What’s your excuse?’, referring to fitness, are as follows.

Argument 1: I don’t have time to visit the gym every morning.

Argument 2: I have a random condition that makes losing weight difficult.

Argument 3: Genetics. I’m big-boned.

These very tired and unimaginative excuses are exactly the kind I would expect from people who don’t prioritize fitness and health. And actually, there isn’t much wrong with that. No one said you have to visit the gym every morning or achieve Kang’s level of body discipline. There is, however, something wrong with pillorying a person for having a nicer body than you and for congratulating herself on the hard work it took to get it. That does not, in fact, translate to body shaming. Body shaming is when you claim that ‘real women’ are obese and everyone else who attempts fitness is fake.

Were we talking about something truly immutable such as facial structure I might be more sympathetic. But since anybody can be overweight and everybody can lose weight I’m not going to humor these pleas to body victimization wherein we pretend like every overweight person is suffering from a glandular disease and is utterly helpless to change it.

Many people will cite a psychological condition like stress or depression. Both of these can also result in alcoholism. Does that mean alcoholism is impossible to overcome? Does clinical depression or a predisposition to addiction excuse alcoholism? No, it does not because solutions exist.

Indeed, those with conditions either physical or mental will certainly have to work harder to remain fit but it is not impossible. Just as with age all of us will be forced to be more disciplined about our health. A ‘condition’ is not an excuse for obesity of any kind. In fact, having a condition should only motivate one to be further invested in their health.

With regard to time factors, whose fault is that exactly? It certainly isn’t Maria Kang’s fault that she prioritizes her physical fitness and others don’t. Indeed, time can be difficult to manage but this comes down to priorities. I find it difficult to believe people when they claim to have literally ‘no time’ for their health. Really? Maybe that person should reconsider their profession or hobbies if they can’t locate 30 minutes a day to exercise. And since physical fitness also pertains to diet, are these people claiming they don’t have time to eat right?

I would bet that most of the people who make these outlandish and desperate claims do in fact have time for exercise and could stand to eat smaller portions and more nutritionally. But rather than hold themselves accountable for their bodies, one of the few things in life we have a tremendous amount of control over, they hide behind the cowardly assertion that they are somehow incapable.

The most cringe-worthy of these excuses is the ‘genetics’ argument. This argument is based upon the assumption that some people are just born to be fat or ‘big-boned’ and no matter how much exercise or how much they restrain themselves they’ll never be slim or fit like Kang. While it is certainly true that the ease of weight-loss or weight-gain is affected by genes it is equally untrue that genes make either impossible. There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that once you’re fat you can never go back. This, again, is akin to saying that once you’ve started smoking, drinking or any other number of unhealthy habits you can never stop. Bosh.

Were it true that genetics or ‘conditions’ were the real causes behind obesity in America or lack of weight loss we wouldn’t have seen obesity among adults increase from 13% to 32% from 1960 to 2004. It is clearly to do with lifestyle habits.

The reality is this. The rage directed at Kang is the misguided frustration of millions of Americans too craven to hold themselves accountable for their inability to prioritize fitness. Kang never demanded that everyone look exactly like her. She never claimed anyone need even try to. But she did ask everyone to be honest about their fitness priorities and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem. Kang is right to be proud of her hard work and commitment. As for the angry women of America, I suggest you stop projecting your insecurities on the people who have managed to transcend them.

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