‘If they can do it, why can’t you?’


About a week ago, a local news portal published an article hoping to inspire women to work out. The article titled “6 Super Fit Asian Mums Will Make You Say “Yes!” To Working Out Today” was published to promote a well-known dairy product.

The article, which went viral, introduced six busy-as-a-bee celebrity mothers with remarkable physiques to inspire others into getting fit.

Upon reading the article, I became quite upset with its content. As a mother of two who has struggled with her weight ever since delivering her first child, looking at the pictures of those six beautiful women with flawless skin and six packs, weighing half my weight, made me feel lousy, ugly and insignificant.

At first, I thought I was just being ridiculously jealous. However, even after getting off the portal and focussing on my daily duties, the article continued to chew on my nerves. Somehow, the article gave birth to an annoying voice in my head which said: “If they can do it, why can’t you?”

I began dwelling on the past. I was reminded of the ever so popular phrase in my house at one time: “The cabinet is dusty, my handkerchiefs aren’t ironed and there are only three dishes on the dining table – what have you been doing all day?”

Honestly, there isn’t much difference between “If they can do it, why can’t you?” and “What have you been doing all day?” Both left me feeling small, useless and lazy.

Wondering if I was merely being super sensitive about my personal struggles or if the article was indeed insensitive, I decided to get feedback from my social circle by sharing it on Facebook. And within minutes, I received a stream of responses – some lashed out in the comment box while others shared their views via private messages.

There’s more to being a mom than having a great body

Anne Gnanapragasam wrote: “In all of these articles they never show the maids in the background, the drivers, the trainers, the many beauty companies lining up for them to endorse their products, etc. It’s not taking away from them their achievements in attaining these bodies but at least be honest about it – they do it as they are in the public eye, that’s how they make their money.”

Sugantha Muthukrishnan was quick to add, “Instead of using celebrity moms to motivate and educate the importance of fitness, speak to an average working mom who holds a 9 to 5 job. She may not have a model’s physique but she would be emotionally and physically stronger than any celebrity mom.”

“Not many mothers have time. If I have the time, I’d rather lie in bed with my kids,” said Faith Lim.

“Ask the writer to come and stay with me one day and witness what I do. I ‘pangsai’ also no time,” said Annie Lee.

Karpagam Punithan wrote, “The only thing that I’m pissed off about these articles is that they forget to mention that none of these celebrity mothers have to cook lunch every single day for her family even if she’s sick to the point of being half dead.”

Tilottama Pillai vented, “Why should looking this way be my priority, after I’ve just had a baby? That’s just selfish and self-centred. My priority is to bond with the little one I chose to bring into the world, and make her comfortable here.”

Carol Kaur meanwhile said, “I’ve always been on the large side and being a cab driver, I am always busy driving around and when I am home, its housework. I have no time to think of diets and exercises as my time is dedicated to putting food on the table.”

“I am a mother but I certainly don’t have a hot body, reasons being I’m too poor for a nanny, gym and trainers. I have to cook and clean daily. Am I in any way inferior to these women??? Is my body not worth any appreciation whatsoever, flab and all? Am I any less a mother???” asked Jenithaa Unrivaled.

Looks like I wasn’t the only one upset with the article. Some 24 hours after sharing the piece, the comments continued to pour in. A quick check on the portal itself revealed many readers were unhappy with the article as well.

The thing is, throughout the month of March, we celebrated women and their achievements in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8 – women’s suffrage and the many roles women play within every family and community. Sadly, just as we were about to end this celebration of women empowerment, comes an article written and published for women that does nothing to empower them.

Perhaps the best thing the writer of this uninspiring article can do now as a form of rectification, is to work on a new article about common mothers who are able to cook, clean, wash, dry, fold, iron, scrub, sweep, mop, send/fetch their kids to/from school/tuition/art class/music class and spend quality time with them later without any help – no maids, no drivers, no free products, no luxury. And pose the same question to our community at large – “If they can do it, why can’t you?”

Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.