Maria Kang, AKA "Fit Mom," posted a controversial photo on her Facebook page back in September, baring her toned abs, with her three young kids by her side. The 33-year-old created a firestorm of attention by asking, "What's your excuse?"
Many interpreted the post as fat shaming. Kang seemed to be saying, if you don't look like me, you're just not trying hard enough.
Subsequent Facebook posts, blogs and media interviews have only given her detractors more reasons to call her out as a judgmental fat shamer. Meanwhile, her supporters continue to cheer her on as the voice of reason in a world that promotes fat acceptance despite the unhealthy effects of obesity.
Now that Kang has an international spotlight, she says she's not backing down. She's willing to take on anyone who says that obesity looks OK. Here's what she had to say to ABC News about her views on the impact of size on health.
Earlier this week, Caroline Berg Eriksen, a Norwegian soccer player's wife, came under fire for posting an Instagram selfie featuring her flat, chiseled stomach just four days after giving birth. What do you think about that?
I say, good for her! I've never seen anyone look like that after four days, but every woman's body is different. We shouldn't feel bad about ourselves if we don't look like her but we shouldn't bash her for it either.
My body certainly didn't look like that after having a baby. I posted pictures to my Facebook page and anyone who looks at them will see I am like everyone else. I had to work to get it back.
You recently scuffled with the owner of Curvy Girl Lingerie, Chrystal Bougon, on CNN. Bougon encouraged "regular women" to bare-it-all online, stripping down to their lingerie to prove that real women are beautiful. Do you object to that?
All of the women they showed were obese and I said that was not healthy. Maybe that particular obese woman really is healthy. If so, then she's just like the Norwegian who can have flat abs four days after giving birth – an anomaly.
I said you can just tell by looking at someone if they are fit or not. I know this from being in the fitness world and working with people. It's instinct. You can tell if someone is sick and unhealthy by how they look. When someone has a poor waist-to-hip ratio, that's a huge indicator. Studies show that you are more susceptible to heart disease and other types of illness based on that. Anyone can tell this with a bare naked eye looking at a bare naked stomach.
You can tell if someone is obese and that's the word I am using here. Your body is not meant to carry this much weight. You can tell when they expose all their goodies to you they are not healthy. And can I just say I am tired of everyone posing in their lingerie?
So, can someone who is overweight but who works out and eats right ever be considered healthy?
You can base a lot off of visual results. If someone is working out and eating healthy, however their body manifests, you have to respect that.
I don't look like an athlete or someone who could be on the cover of Vogue. I won't ever look like Heidi Klum and I don't beat myself up over it. No one can get the same results – everyone is built differently and has different genetics.
I never said anyone should look like me or anyone else. I am talking about health not looks. But if you exercise and eat healthy you can be healthy. That is my message.