(WCPO) - A California mother of three young boys has spurred a social firestorm after posting a picture with her midriff showing while posing the question: "What's Your Excuse?"
Maria Kang, 32, is a married business owner who has three sons younger than the age of four and has attracted national attention from both people who view her as an inspiration and others who say she is trying to shame overweight women.
Kang, who says she is not a naturally thin person, admits she works constantly to be healthy. But many moms see Kang's photo, posted to her Facebook page more than a year ago, as a personal attack on overweight mothers.
After receiving backlash for her picture, she sounded off on her Facebook page, saying:
"I've been getting an influx of new followers, emails and comments (on my profile pic) recently. Some saying I'm a bully, I'm fat-shaming and I need to apologize for the hurt I've caused women. I get it. SO here's my First and Final Apology:
I'm sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won't go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two business', have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. I won't even mention how I didn't give into cravings for ice cream, french fries or chocolate while pregnant or use my growing belly as an excuse to be inactive.
What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It's Yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn't create them. You created them. So if you want to continue 'hating' this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life. You can either blame, complain or obtain a new level of thought by challenging the negative words that come out of your own brain.
With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a 'bigger' issue than this photo. Maybe it's time we stop tip-toeing around people's feelings and get to the point. So What's Your Excuse?" - Maria Kang
The Facebook photo has amassed more than 184,000 "Likes," 15,000 "Shares," and 21,000 comments as of Wednesday morning.
On Kang's website, she documents her fitness evolution to show fans and critics alike her journey to healthy living hasn't been all rainbows and sunshine.
She said her body underwent metabolic damage and she wasn't able to lose weight for several years. She credits building good habits throughout many years of creating her healthy life routine. She cites consistency as the number one thing that helped her lose weight after having children and notes her success didn't happen overnight.
"I was a chubby child. An average teen. A 'thick' college student. A Fit competitor. An Overweight Woman. And a Healthy Mom," Kang wrote on her website.