By Marla Martenson for YourTango.com.
There has been a lot of buzz in the news lately about fat shaming due to a story last month about “fit facebook mom” Maria Kang. She has ignited an online firestorm with her “what’s your excuse?” Facebook photo, in which she is wearing a sports bra, showing off six-pack and surrounded by her three young children. Kang’s photo went viral as media outlets across the globe covered the controversy.
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Some consider the photo inspiring, but many others call it insulting. Many commenters have also accused Kang of being a bad mother, saying that she couldn’t have a such a fit body and also take proper care of her children. Commenters also claimed her photo suggests that all women can look like her if they just work hard enough. Kang made appearances on national news shows defending the photo saying, “A lot of people have a lot of excuses about why they’re overweight. It was an open-ended, thought-provoking question to inspire others to work out.” She also said that our society has normalized being out of shape.
After a slew of media appearances, and being beat up in cyber space over and over again, Kang wrote on her blog, “despite the media pressure and abrupt changes in my life I’ve been able to stay composed and clear to my truest intentions. It’s without a doubt been a whirlwind — a journey that has made me lose my appetite, become reclusive and feel unprotected. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a car on the way to JFK airport in New York, when I finally began to cry.”
Watching this controversy unfold around poor Maria being barraged with questions and criticisms in the media broke my heart. Never in a million years did she think that an innocent photo that she posted on her own Facebook page a year prior would cause hateful people to peek out from under their rocks to fire nasty comments from behind the safety of their computer screens. I came across The Matt Walsh Blog recently. He seemed to agree with this sentiment. I thought it was one of the most honest and sadly true statements of what is going on in our society today. Here is a snippet of his post:
Hello. You’ve been pretty active recently. It seems every time I go on the internet I see you all, hard at work spewing your misery and envy. Does it get exhausting, Haters? Do you ever come home from a long day of relentless negativity and resentment, and just think to yourselves, “Geez, I’m not sure that Hating is really worth all this energy”?
Let me assure you: it isn’t. When that tiny voice creeps into your head, when it whispers those doubts — listen to it. It’s telling you the truth. It’s pointing you back towards the land of the living, where humans charge out into the light, striving for greatness. It’s telling you that there’s more to existence than skulking in the shadows, grumbling and grunting like trolls; sneering at those of us who have made ourselves vulnerable to your barbs by actually trying to get things done.
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I see you’ve been pulling double duty on this Maria Kang lady. Oh, she’s just the latest victim of yours; she’s the Hater Flavor of the Week. You’ll have a new one come Monday. But, for now, you’re attacking this woman and accusing her of “fat-shaming.” You’re calling her a “bully” and a “bad mother.” You’ve labeled her a liar and a fraud. You’re flooding her with hate mail (the only sort of mail you know how to send). And why? What has she done to spark your ire? Why have you summoned your legions against her?
I love Matt’s post. Yes, it is harsh but sometimes harshness is what is called for. He is standing up for the underdog. The underlying message that I gleaned from it was when we compare ourselves to others, that’s when the trouble starts. If every single person could see what an absolute gift they are to this planet, how unique, special and loved they are, there would be no need to compare ourselves and tear someone else down to shine their light.
In a world where everything we do is hung out for everyone to see, it can get overwhelming. We witness other people’s triumphs, joys, weight loss, engagements, weddings, exotic vacations and best-selling books splashed all over social media on a daily basis, and it can make us feel inadequate and depressed. There is actually something called Facebook envy. There has been research done on this topic and it seems that many people have a negative experience from Facebook, with envy leaving them feeling that they are not accomplishing enough. This can often lead to depression, frustration and anger.
Women often compare themselves to other women. I have seen countless Facebook profile photos of women in a bikini showcasing their rock hard abs, or ample bustline, nipples barely covered and lips pursed, or in a skintight dress falling only an inch below their private parts. When I see this, what comes to mind is insecurity. They are crying out for attention and are getting their self-esteem from people “liking” their photos and commenting how beautiful and hot they are. Many of the images are photoshopped, and even if some women really do look all “hot and rock hard”, it doesn’t mean that they have a perfect life. You might have a muffin top, but you also might have an amazing husband and baby… and the woman with the perfect nipples might be sitting home alone on a Saturday night, waxing her legs.
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As far as Facebook goes, understand that looks can be deceiving. Everyone is posting a “slice of life”. Of course, it is the best-looking slice they can find. Everyone has ups and downs, challenges, problems and bad days. What you see others posting on Facebook is the world according to them. You can “like” their accomplishments and cheer them on, but realize that you are the star in your life, and you can design your life any way you want it to be.
To lighten things up, I did a spoof on the Fit Facebook Mom photo and blog. I just couldn’t resist! So take some time for yourself, back away from the computer, go meet up with a girlfriend for coffee and a muffin and dig in to some real life conversation!
Next time you feel jealous of something you see on Facebook, remind yourself of how awesome you are. The energy you save by being happy with yourself will help you AND your family be all that you can be!
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Facebook Envy: When Your Negative Feelings Go Too Far.