Mariah Kang is a big fat bully.
Except that she’s not big, and she’s not fat, which is part of the problem, but not the part that makes her a bully.
You’ve probably never heard of her, so I’ll fill you in: Mariah Kang leveraged her wannabe-status as a fitness icon by posting a now-viral picture of herself looking awesomely fit in scanty clothing whilst hovering over her three small children with the caption: “What’s your excuse?”
She predictably made some people feel bad for using the “I gave birth to (insert number of) kids!” excuse when justifying why their butt is too big, when clearly that is just an excuse because (so Mariah’s reasoning goes) if Mariah can do it, you can do it, so Facebook Nation responded by branding her a fat-shaming bully … which was a clear abuse of the word “bully.” You can only be bullied if you consent to it and the “bully” is truly in a position of power relative to you. Words that make you feel badly, no matter how harsh, do not necessarily constitute “bullying,” so essentially society is now trying to collectively label what used to be called “boorish” or “rude and uncalled for” as some sort of criminal event (we could have phoned this in: when social media rules, social opinion counts more; you are now what your timeline says you are).
For example, you might read this column today and write to me and say, “Wow, you’re dumb.” (Not to give you ideas, nor to further encourage the lovely individuals who have done just that recently). Is that bullying? I say, “No.” Because it’s just a word, and you have no power over me as long as you spell my name right. (So if you’re planning on writing to me and using the D word, there’s your answer. But thanks for writing! I love it when you do).
So no, Mariah Kang is not a bully.
Is she an annoying braggart? Probably.
Is she an attention monger who did something deliberately provocative to further her career and is now disingenuously expressing surprise that she was misunderstood? I’d bet a million page views, which I secretly wish I had.
Am I willing to make myself purposefully controversial to garner that kind of attention? No, because right after my dislike of the increase in the advance of the Anti-Bullying Industry is the growth of the Fame Through Causing a Train Wreck Industry. When we start down this road, we wind up on reality TV on the “Filming A Sex Tape, Feigning Dismay When It Goes ‘Accidently’ Viral And Then Cashing In Hosting Pool Parties In Vegas” career track.
Am I jealous of Kang’s instant fame? Maybe a little. I’d love to go viral in a good way, which would entail you tweeting it with the comment: “Wow. This really resonates!” And all your friends sharing it, and next thing you know I’m doing a 15-minute bit on “Good Morning, America” during the soft news (this is more of a hint than a direct request).
I can’t do it the other way, though, for one simple reason: my butt’s too big to host a pool party in Vegas.
And Mariah Kang knows it.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.