I just can't keep quiet any longer. I cannot deal with how women are using social media to bring each other down. Why does everything have to become a thing, an issue, a point of contention? Why is it that the second someone puts "mother" in their title, they become free game for attacks from the crowd?
What has happened to the sisterhood? What has happened to If you can't say something nice, don't say anything? What's happened to constructive, valuable, intelligent critique? What about to each his own and tolerance, kindness and patience?
Whoa, nelly. That's passionate. Even for me. What's inspired it?
It's the same topic that's on everyone's mind (well, except those who are reading Lindsay Lohan's sexcapade list.) Maria Kang, of course. You know, the What's Your Excuse fitness blogger and personality who inspires vitriol in moms everywhere.
When the sh*t hit the fan months ago after Kang posted this on her Facebook wall, I just ignored the ruckus. Maria had made people MAD. And her use of social media whipped it up into a frenzy. Folks couldn't EVEN believe that a FITNESS professional posted something intending to inspire people to work out. That she dared to ask a question that fit with her own BRAND marketing on her own BRAND page. Can you believe it? The nerve of her. (User tip: you don't like it, don't subscribe to her updates.)
I felt bad for Maria that people were attacking her, but she put it out there, so I figured she could take it. She didn't need my help. All the bandwagoning bothered me (after all, I do have a sociology degree, which has made me an *expert* in crowd mentality), but I really didn't want to enter the fray.
But then, it happened again. She made this poster to launch her new website, noexcusemom.com. Hello frenzy.
Again, the criticism, the condemnation, the finger pointing. How DARE she point out fake flaws on her PERFECT body? How DARE she post something like that for her OWN marketing purposes on her OWN brand page to promote her OWN business? Oh. MY. GOD. Can you believe it? (User tip: you don't like it, don't subscribe to her updates).
This time, I can't keep my mouth shut. My friend posted this disappointing article on Facebook. Entitled "Maria Kang, Here are My Excuses" (OK fine, good title), its subtitle was what made my eyebrows really shoot up: Katie Dupuis starts a hashtag campaign on social media to educate the "hot Facebook mom." Join the party!
A. Hot Facebook Mom? (Do I hear sarcasm? Judgement? Perhaps jealousy?)
B. They're going to educate her? With a hashtag campaign on social media?
Oooh. FUN! Let's all jump on social media and using a hashtag (#excusethis), have a mommy war. Yay! Sounds fun. What better way to bring women together than to push another one down? That is SO awesome. And exactly what social media is for.
Look, I'm not here to dig into why Maria Kang offends people so much or why her statements touch a nerve with women. Being a bit of a fitness nut myself, I totally get what she is saying. I don't hear fat-bashing, I hear an honest question: What are your excuses, and how are you going to overcome them? I respond to that kind of message. I liked being smacked in the face. It works for me, and I understand it may not work for someone else. Plus, it's her thing, her jam. Of course she's going to work it.
To be honest, Maria Kang isn't saying anything different than anyone else in the fitness world (umm... Nike's Just Do it?) She's in the business of getting people moving, just like motivational speakers are in the business of getting people going to where they want to go. Why Maria? Why choose to take her to town and not, say Joan Rivers and the cast of "Fashion Police?" They're way nastier.
It's because she's hitting women in their pain spot -- right in their self-esteem. People call Maria a bully, but what exactly do they call themselves?
The only thing Maria Kang is hurting is people's sensibilities. She's not a criminal, a thief or a murderer. She's not a bad person, or at least I don't think so -- none of us really know her, so it's hard to tell.
People just need to tune her out if they don't agree. They need to leave her alone. Who are WE to tell her what to say or what to think or who to be?
Just because she goes by "Mom" doesn't mean we all get to judge her choices (like the critics feel she's judging them for their choices). Honestly, you don't like it? Don't read it, don't share it, don't talk about it. But don't just jump on the "Let's Hate Maria" train because everyone else is. She does not deserve a hashtag campaign against her.
What I wanted to say is this: As women, we need to stop constantly bashing each other with negativity and criticism. It would be naïve to say that we should always support each other. That's just not sensible. But what I am suggesting is we can agree to disagree (or at least not incite a riot). Not everyone thinks the same. Not everyone has the same values, world view or perspective. We all have our own history and our own reality. And we need to remember to respect those differences.
Here's an idea: How about a hashtag to bring each other up instead of one to bring someone down? What a revelation.
(Previously published on Be Nice or Leave Thanks)