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

Elise Solé

“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: 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.


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.”


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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