TLC Star Whitney Way Thore Fighting For A World Where Beauty Isn’t The Measure Of Success

She became a viral sensation from her ‘A Fat Girl Dancing’ Youtube video which has more than 9 million views since it was released. Almost overnight she became a national spokeswoman for body image, and ended up getting her own show on TLC called ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’. During a time when body positivity is finally disrupting mainstream conversations and standards in the fashion world, Whitney’s presence is an important voice.

In a recent interview with Yahoo, Whitney says her message isn’t just about acceptance or embracing your body the way it is. Growing up with an eating disorder, Whitney says she has always had a complicated relationship with her body image, and that it was compounded by the world’s standards of what she *should* look like.

“I always had a hard time with my body and always felt fat. [I felt] so ashamed about my body already, I never thought to go to a doctor to see if something was going on…My family wouldn’t say, ‘You’re really fat now — what’s going on?’” she recalled.

Although she “didn’t fit in the physical, material world”, being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) also helped her come to terms with her weight gain, but not her body image. There was a time in her life where she felt pressure to lose a lot of weight, but says she still felt the same emotionally and mentally.

“My relationship with my body didn’t change,” she said.

Fast forward to the way she was thrust into the spotlight after her Youtube video and subsequent media presence, Whitney says becoming an unofficial spokeswoman for body positivity wasn’t necessarily a natural progression for her.

“I felt nervous because I felt like I was being asked to be the spokesperson for body positivity, but I had just come into it on my own and had my own idea about what it meant,” she said.

But it was a crucial interaction with her dad, normally one of her biggest supporters, that made her step into her calling. She posted an image of herself on social media from a photo shoot she did with the hashtag #NoBodyShameCampaign and her dad told her it wasn’t the most flattering image.

“When he said that, I told him I was so angry and hurt and that he was like every asshole man I had ever met. And he’s always been my biggest supporter, but this was also a moment of defiance for me. Of saying, ‘If you don’t get it, that’s fine. You’ve been brainwashed to think this way and that any other way of thinking is wrong — but I don’t want to think that way anymore’,” she recalled.

That became the activation point in her career path, and enabled her to make the powerful statements she has been sharing on various talk shows as well as online. Whitney also says the body-shaming she experienced is the reason she is a hardcore feminist, due to the “discrimination and oppression living as a fat woman”.

However, what is probably the most important part of her message is that she wants to see less people being judged by their appearances.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re beautiful. I’m not fighting for a world where fat women can be considered beautiful, but for a world where it doesn’t matter if you’re beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you are beautiful and you should strive for something or anything else other than achieving that goal of beauty. You should strive for achievements far beyond your body, because what you look like doesn’t dictate what you can do in life, who can love you, and who you’ll become. Your body isn’t the only factor for happiness and success,” she says.

Whitney wants to encourage more women especially to focus on a more holistic approach to health and wellness, because the focus solely on fixing or contorting your body to fit into narrow standards will never bring complete happiness.

“I want to focus on telling women how-to information for themselves on how to live their day-to-day lives. Not necessarily what outfit can you put together or what to do about online dating, but real day-to-day life things you can do to feel confident and sexy and happy and successful,” she said.

Her TLC show does more than just give audiences a glimpse into her life, it allows Whitney to disrupt audiences’ preconceived ideas of what a show featuring a plus size woman is about.

“I think it’s cool to have this opportunity to just let people watch my life…It’s amazing to have a fat woman star on her own show about her own life and it’s not a weight-loss contest and it’s not me crying about being fat. It’s just me and that’s where the importance of it really lies,” she said.

You can watch ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’ on TLC, and also buy Whitney’s book ‘I Do It With The Lights On’ from Amazon. We also recommend following this badass babe on Instagram to see more of her body positivity advocacy in real time.

 

 

 

 

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