'Fit mom' Maria Kang criticizes plus-size model Tess Holliday on body positivity

Elise Solé
Yahoo Beauty

“Fit mom” Maria Kang has strong words for plus-size model Tess Holliday about body positivity.

Maria Kang has some words for Tess Holliday. (Photo: <a href="https://www.jamespatrick.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:James Patrick Photography" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">James Patrick Photography</a>)
Maria Kang has some words for Tess Holliday. (Photo: James Patrick Photography)

Back in 2013, Kang, a mother of three from Sacramento, Calif., posted an inflammatory Facebook photo featuring her toned abs while she was surrounded by her three young children. The photo’s caption read, “What’s Your Excuse?”

The image went viral and Kang was vilified for promoting unrealistic body expectations and mom shaming. Since her rise to fame, Kang has written a health book and released a fitness calendar. She’s also been transparent about her marriage, weight, and unedited photos.

So when Holliday shared her take on a man named Robbie Tripp, whose Instagram post celebrating the curvy body of his wife, Sarah, went viral on July 31, Kang didn’t hold back.

|| I love this woman and her curvy body. As a teenager, I was often teased by my friends for my attraction to girls on the thicker side, ones who were shorter and curvier, girls that the average (basic) bro might refer to as "chubby" or even "fat." Then, as I became a man and started to educate myself on issues such as feminism and how the media marginalizes women by portraying a very narrow and very specific standard of beauty (thin, tall, lean) I realized how many men have bought into that lie. For me, there is nothing sexier than this woman right here: thick thighs, big booty, cute little side roll, etc. Her shape and size won't be the one featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan but it's the one featured in my life and in my heart. There's nothing sexier to me than a woman who is both curvy and confident; this gorgeous girl I married fills out every inch of her jeans and is still the most beautiful one in the room. Guys, rethink what society has told you that you should desire. A real woman is not a porn star or a bikini mannequin or a movie character. She's real. She has beautiful stretch marks on her hips and cute little dimples on her booty. Girls, don't ever fool yourself by thinking you have to fit a certain mold to be loved and appreciated. There is a guy out there who is going to celebrate you for exactly who you are, someone who will love you like I love my Sarah. || photo cred: @kaileehjudd

A post shared by ROBBIE TRIPP™ (@tripp) on Jul 30, 2017 at 6:10pm PDT

On Friday, Holliday shared a tweet on Instagram that called out the discrepancy between how men are treated for loving women with curves and how women are treated when they accept their own bodies. “This is so real,” Holliday captioned the post. “Stop giving men trophies for doing the bare minimum.”

This is so real. Stop giving men trophies for doing the bare minimum. Also I'm not here for someone who says transphobic things. #effyourbeautystandards #transwomenarewomen

A post shared by Plus ModelWifeMomFeminist (@tessholliday) on Aug 5, 2017 at 1:05pm PDT

On Monday, Kang responded by writing on her Facebook page, “Did anyone read this story about a husband loving his wife regardless of size? I thought it was a sweet tribute of someone loving their spouse despite any standard. When I see someone like Tess Holliday criticize this, it’s disheartening. Tess is an obese model (not thick, plus size or curvy) who has popularized the term #effyourbeautystandards and should promote positivity in all forms.”

Kang’s post triggered disagreements in the comments section between people who felt Holliday was too harsh on Tripp’s “endearing” post and those who felt that a man doesn’t deserve praise for accepting a woman’s body as it is.

Facebook user Brenda Marie wrote, “I think he was being sweet…. there is so much talk about being thin. He was just writing something positive about his wife’s body. What’s wrong with a husband loving the way his wife looks? Especially when it’s ‘unconventional’ he is not looking for a trophy… did not even get that tone from him.”

However, user Sarah Sedelmeier felt the opposite way, writing, “He should not be praised for loving his wife ‘even though’ she’s not thin. That should be given. He doesn’t deserve an award for being so accepting…she is gorgeous and he’s lucky to have her.”

“Tripp’s post was a sweet tribute to his wife, but we live in a highly sensitive culture where people want to be applauded for self-acceptance rather than accept it from someone else,” Kang tells Yahoo Beauty. “It seems like Tess believes it’s anti-feminist for a woman to want approval from any man. She has a hard, militant stance regarding outside validation, as symbolized in her #effyourbeautystandards campaign.” Holliday created the celebrated hashtag in 2014 to encourage size acceptance.

Yahoo Beauty could not reach Holliday for comment.

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