By now, I'm sure you've seen that picture of Maria Kang posing with her three young boys and her six rock-hard abs, captioned "What's your excuse?" And if you're like most women, you're probably outraged.
You shouldn't be.
First of all, let's look at Ms. Kang's motive. The picture was posted on her Facebook page, and it was meant to encourage and inspire her fans. She did not caption the photo, "You don't look like me because you're lazy," or "You're fat and I'm better than you." She didn't say that because that's not what she meant. The only message she was trying to get across was that she believes it's possible for anyone to get fit, even a working mother with three kids. And that's all.
Were you personally offended by the picture? Did it seem like Ms. Kang was calling you out for not being as fit as she is? She wasn't. Maria Kang does not know who you are. She has no idea what your body looks like. She did not send that picture directly to you.
People sometimes forget that there's a whole world outside of their own heads. We tend to think of ourselves as the protagonist in our own life story, and the rest of the world as supporting characters. So we look at Maria Kang and think, "She's being skinny at me. What a bitch!" It's important to remember that people have motives for their actions that are entirely unrelated to you. In fact, very little in this world is actually all about you. And that picture? It definitely wasn't.
Finally, a lot of women who saw this picture complain that they felt "fat-shamed." The sad truth is that if you felt guilty or ashamed about yourself when you saw the picture, it's because you already felt that way, and the picture simply reminded you of that. If you do feel bad about your body, that sucks, but they're your feelings. Nobody put them in your head. Accept them as your own personal baggage, and then deal with them accordingly—whether that means owning your body as it is, or working to change it. That's up to you, and only you.
The woman who's really fat-shaming you isn't in that photo; she's in the mirror. Tell her to shut the hell up.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room.