Women, Fitspo and Putting Yourself First

The other day I posted an article critiquing the fitspo below to Facebook.

I was interested to hear what everyone else thought not only of the photo but also of the critique.

Personally, the fitspo doesn’t bother me. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the saying, which has been posted on a ton of different pictures, BUT I like what she stands for and what she shows is possible.

But it does sound like the fitspo bothers quiet a few women.

Which I can truly understand.

I am not a mother. I’ll be upfront about that. But I am a woman. And I am a woman with a great desire to empower every other woman I come in contact with.

Which is why many of the critiques of the photo really really struck a nerve and made me angry.

Ok yes…”What your excuse?” may not have been the best phrase. But that is really what we are focusing on? Ok she was PROUD of her body so decided to show it off. And we are condemning her for her body acceptance?

I’m sorry but the real issue isn’t the photo. It is the fact that most of the complaints about Maria Kang and the photo all seem to stem from the fact that most women feel obligated to take care of others FIRST.

It’s almost like women try to shame each other into NOT taking care of themselves instead of supporting those women who do make the decision to take care of themselves first.

Society, in my opinion, tells women to put their family first. To take care of others and make sure their needs are met before their own.

But being a good wife, good mother, good friend doesn’t have to mean putting others before yourself.

I think taking care of yourself FIRST actually makes you a better person and more able to support others.

If we aren’t healthy or happy how can we TRULY support others? I mean let’s face it….We are way better friends when we can truly listen and help – when we are self-possessed and happy and feeling good.

And all too often I feel like those women who put themselves first, who make sure they are healthy and happy so that they can support others, are condemned. They are told they aren’t good mothers. Or actually criticized for not putting their children first.

I even saw a comment saying that Maria Kang wasn’t a good role model.

A good role model?

Is the mother who is self-sacrificing really a good role model?!?! Is the mother who puts everyone before herself a good role model!?!

No! I’m sorry…She isn’t.

I would never want my daughter to think that she has to put everyone around her before herself. I would want her to know that her needs and wants and dreams and goals shouldn’t come SECOND.

That SHE IS IMPORTANT. That she doesn’t have to blindly follow traditional expectations. That she can be a wildly successful career woman and still be a great mom.

That she CAN HAVE IT ALL.

I can accept that people don’t like the slogan. But seriously all this negativity about a stupid picture makes me feel like we are burying a more important message.

Like we, women, are so focused on this “thin” vs. “fat” thing that we are almost holding each other back from overcoming more important things.

I will finish with this last statement….The other day I was reading about successful women who had become CEOs and business owners and how many of them, instead of mentoring another generation of women to become successful too, actually did very little to help other women because they felt their grasp on success wasn’t secure enough.

In many ways those successful women did more to hold other women back from gaining equal, or even greater, success.

And honestly, that is kind of what all the criticisms of this picture feel like to me. It feels like we are too scared to recognize her success and the fact that she broke with traditional values and PUT HERSELF FIRST so we criticize and tear down a freaking photo.

The end. That is all this non-mother, but girl who was raised by a strong mother, has to say.

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Posted on October 17, 2013, in Rants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. My mother in law sometimes says snide comments at me about taking the time to workout at 5 am. Yes, it means I go to bed at an ungodly hour so I don’t have loads of time after the little one goes to bed to spend time with my husband..yes during her Saturday morning naps I leave and practice my Olympic lifting, and my husband has to stay home.

    I also spend 98% of my daughters waking hours with her, I mke dinner every night, I do all the bill paying, grocery shopping, errands and house cleaning. But I would be resentful and unhappy if I didn’t get that 1 hour a day to take care of myself and what makes me happy as a person-not just a mom or a wife.

    I think society is unfair to women and expect that the title of “mom” automatically means all other identity or hobbies should cease. Yes, compromise is key to any happy family-if you work 8 hours a day and your hobby takes away 3 hours of your week day away from your family you might need to scale back. But, I’ve always told my husband I refuse to give up fitness and working out, that its part of who I am and as my husband he should support me within reason

  2. I agree with you 100%. Being a mom doesn’t mean you stop caring about your health. You care about your health because you want to live a long, happy and healthy life with your children. My sister -in -law is 45, has four children, works out like a beast and looks fabulous.

  3. THANK YOU!

    I actually posted this same comment to another blog that had the opposite opinion than you… but the fact is, that while she may annoy some, she inspires others. I think she looks great, and nothing about her picture or response offends me… I refuse to be negative. I support her confidence, guts, hard work… At the end of the day, she meant no harm and was only trying to be motivating and inspiring. This may be bad to say, so forgive me… but I actually know plenty of moms who even look more fit than that… and might possibly be more fit. For example: one of my mom friends ran a full marathon when she was 5 months pregnant, she has 5 kids now and is running a 3:45 marathon. I use this as an example because anyone who runs, knows training for a race can be very time consuming especially one at marathon distance. And although she has 5 kids, she still makes time for training, because it is her passion. The other mom ran a half marathon 7 months pregnant in under 2 hours. (I’m only mentioning their times to show their fitness level.)

    “The world is changed by examples, not by opinions.”- Paulo Coelho. These lovely ladies are setting great example for their children, and other women.

  4. I am in such a weird spot here because I disliked Kang’s photo but I also love the point you are making here and agree completely. Just wanted to chime in and let you know that.

    And now, I am ready for this meme to retreat into the dark recesses of the internet. I give it about 24 hours before we move on to some new outrage. 🙂

    • I totally get where you are coming from.

      I guess I just think all the other things she stands for should mean more…especially since she was basically just stealing a popular fitspo phrase “What’s your excuse?” I mean that phrase has been on so many different images that she probably just figured it was popular and would then get her stuff some shares too.

  5. I disliked it also but love your point here. I totally agree that women(and men) sometimes make the ‘excuse’ that they have no time. One blogger’s response to the picture was “why don’t we move the tag line-what’s your excuse- to the little boy on the right”. That makes it take on a whole new meaning 🙂

  1. Pingback: Opinions, deadlifts and competitions…. | Diary of a Newbie StrongWomen

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