Maria Kang’s picture of herself with her three kids and the label “What’s your excuse?” has by now garnered a lot of attention, and resulted in an unapologetic apology from her where she ends again with “So, what’s your excuse?”
As a feminist and as an academic who teaches about the body, I’d like to answer her question. So, what is my excuse?
I believe there’s more to women than a lean, toned body.
I do not believe that a craving for chocolate, ice cream or fries is something to be ashamed of. To not “give in to it”, even when you’re pregnant (that’s nine months for those of you who are counting), should not be a source of pride, superiority, or congratulations.
I believe in a world where success and happiness are not defined or limited by what one looks like.
I believe that the language of “health”, “discipline”, and “dedication” can hide some dark and unhealthy obsessions regarding the body.
I believe in raising my children in a world where fat is not a sign of personal failures.
I do not believe that eating dessert is “bad”. Food has nothing to do with morality.
I believe in providing an environment for my children where they never hear me or my husband criticize our bodies, their bodies or anybody else’s body.
I do not believe that we live in a world where we are “tip-toing around people’s feelings” and where “being overweight has become normalized”. Quite the contrary. As a thin woman, I know I enjoy certain privileges and the least I can do is acknowledge that and do my part in not reinforcing such privilege.
I believe that food is so much more than nourishment and sustenance. It has the ability to remind me us of our families, our childhood, seasons, to trigger particular memories, to make us feel loved, feel comfort and warmth . . . and you take all that away when you reduce this incredible social experience to just calories, shame, and disgust.
I believe that you don’t need an “excuse” for looking different from what Maria Kang looks like.
MULTIPLE: President, Los Angeles Harbor College, President, Los Angeles Southwest College, President, Los Angeles Valley College