Back in 2013, Maria Kang went viral and stirred controversy online, after she created a meme of herself challenging mothers to get fit. In the image, Kang could be seen wearing a skimpy outfit and standing over her three children under the header: "What's your excuse?"
While the post was meant to be seen as inspiring, Kang was labelled as a fat-shamer, narcissist and a mom-shamer by critics. However, other people simply dubbed her "hot mom."
Now, however, in 2018 and five years on from the first debacle, Kang is back and posing in the same way and with the same children. This time, though, the kids are much bigger and Kang's caption is much more inclusive. Not only this, but her header has changed to "What's Your Reason?"
Taking to her Instagram to upload the image, Kang wrote a wordy caption in which she implored mothers to get fit and pursue a more active lifestyle for the sake of their family and themselves.
"I haven’t changed my tune, I’ve just grown up a whole lot. I’ve always known there are excuses in life - you’ve seen me go through many these past several years as my kids grew from toddlers into tiny men.
"What I’ve learned is you can’t only confront your Excuse, you must also direct your Purpose.
"What is your reason for getting/staying healthy? Why is this fitness journey important to you? Once you identify your WHY, the HOW part becomes easy.
"I’ve never been a fat-shamer or online bully. I work and therefore don’t workout all day. While I wish I could have one, I don’t have a full time nanny, housekeeper or cook. I’ve got excuses but I’m not hiding behind them, letting it tell my story or giving me a hall pass for unhealthy behaviors.
"Find Your Reason. I desire to serve my community, grow old with my children, feel beautiful and healthy with my husband and prevent (as much possible) heart disease, diabetes and strokes. I want to live a vibrant, energetic and active life...and because of that, I refuse to allow my excuses hold me back.
In an email interview with Today, Kang took time to clarify her new direction and less aggressive approach. “The reason is way more important than the excuse,” Kang told Today in an email interview. “When you find your why, you can overcome your excuse.”
Kang also said the initial meme was about overcoming attitudes she experienced as a child. "Since I grew up in a household with an overweight mother, I had a lot of passion under my belt when people came at me with their criticism and excuses," she said.
While Kang's initial meme could easily be seen as a dig at mothers who struggle to work out every week or day, her latest post is much more supportive and inspiring. As she says, once you realise why you want to get fit, the rest should fall into place.