The Daily Gamecock

Competition over body image is unhealthy

Several weeks ago, a physically fit mom by the name of Maria Kang took heat for posting a picture of herself and her three children with a caption that read, “What’s your excuse?”

This picture captured national attention and 20,000 comments, sparking a debate as to the message it sends women and young girls. While it is apparent that Kang works out avidly and cares deeply about her personal health, this message is more detrimental to young girls than it is inspirational.

First of all, you simply can’t compare one life to another. Kang works for a non-profit workout center in California. Her husband, who does not work, watches the children every day while she works out. Is this a situation that is applicable to everyone? Probably not. Most women work, but not at fitness centers. Additionally, how many men are stay-at-home dads? In my own experience, most non-working men are going to sit at home, drink a 40 oz. and watch a football game while a babysitter keeps the kids. In this day in age, how many families can really afford to have a parent not work anyway?

Secondly, the implied message is that if you don’t look like a rock star, you are immediately associated with the presupposed “lesser” of society. Growing up with a younger sister and having worked at a kid’s camp for three years, I saw first-hand how much of a struggle body image is for young girls. Nowadays, we’re seeing girls as young as five years old comparing their clothing and hair with one another and developing eating disorders, quickly creating an unhealthily competitive environment.

It is easy to see where they learn this. They are exposed to a plethora of images telling them they have to look and act a certain way in order to have any self-worth. Miley Cyrus is a prime example of what girls see on TV and feel they have to become. Fitness is commendable, and with our nation’s obesity epidemic, it’s something to be admired. But there is a time and place for everything, and sending a message implying that we have no excuse to not be in perfect condition is inane.

Geena Mongole, a fourth-year public relations student, is active on campus, attending bodypump and other group exercise classes at the gym. When asked about what the image says to her, she said it illustrates the importance of putting things in perspective. “I am happy for her, but I believe if instead of following her story, we should make our own story and become self-motivated to become fit.”
Healthy motivation is found within, not from contempt of others.