Whitney Way Thore does not care what you think.
Call her fat. Tell her she shouldn’t be dancing. That she shouldn’t be proud of who she is or what she’s done with her life. It’s ok. She’s heard it all before.
Years ago those kinds of comments would have set Thore back, they would have chipped away at her confidence and self worth and made her question whether or not you were right. Not anymore. Because now Thore’s self worth isn’t tied to other people’s opinions or even her weight.
The star of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life has found confidence away from the scale and outside of the comments section on YouTube. She’s found confidence in herself and now she’s spreading that same message of self-love and acceptance to others. No matter what anyone else thinks.
The second season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life premieres on Wednesday September 9 at 9 p.m. ET. Here’s what you need to know about Thore:
1. Thore’s YouTube Video ‘A Fat Girl Dancing’ Went Viral in 2014
Whitney Thore has always felt as if her self-worth was tied to the number on the scale. She needed to be thin to be worthy. She had to be thin to be accepted.
Then, something changed.
A co-worker urged Thore to film herself dancing and put the videos on YouTube, sharing her passions with the world without worrying about the comments section. One of the videos went viral and Thore’s inbox, as she put it, “exploded” with messages telling them how inspired they were by her. It changed her life.
2. She Grew up in North Carolina & Attended Appalachian State
Thore grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and her parents, Glenn and Barbara are regularly featured on My Big Fat Fabulous Life. She also has an older brother Hunter, who currently lives in New York City.
A dancer throughout her life, Thore was accepted into the prestigious theatre summer enrichment program at the Governor’s School of North Carolina in 2000. After graduating high school, Thore attended Appalachian State University, majoring in theatre.
It was during her four years at college that Thore struggled the most with her weight, gaining nearly 100 pounds in her freshman year alone. She explained the change:
Not unlike a person donning a fat suit in public for the first time, everything changed overnight. Unable to reconcile this new perception of me (suddenly, I was lazy, disgusting, and worthless), I quit my life. I failed out of my dance classes and almost out of college entirely.
Thore struggled to get roles in her school’s theatre programs, refused to dance on the off chance that she caught her reflection in the mirror and essentially retreated from her own life as the weight continued to pile on.
3. Thore Runs an Online Campaign Called ‘No Body Shame’
After becoming on overnight internet sensation, Thore decided to funnel that viral popularity into something that she truly believed would make a difference. So, she created the No Body Shame campaign.
The campaign has grown into a full-fledged movement across the country that acknowledges body shame as much more than a personal issue. It’s a wide-spread challenge that both men and women face on a daily basis and the best, and only, way to deal with it is, to simply, love yourself as you are.
This, of course, isn’t easy. And it hasn’t been easy for Thore. But the North Carolina native has found happiness in simply being happy. She wrote on the No Body Shame site, “your body doesn’t have to limit you, whether it be deemed ‘too skinny,’ ‘too fat,’ or ‘too broken.'”
4. She Was Diagnosed With Polycystic Ovary System
While she was growing up Thore was active. She was a dancer. She played soccer. She acted in local theatre productions. She also fought near-constant body issues. Thore wrote in xojane.com:
While it was easy for me to project confidence, inside my self-worth was constantly teetering. At the very core of my soul, I felt beautiful. I felt talented. I felt worthy, but I couldn’t help but shape my self-image with the feedback from society and from my peers. Even though I was popular –- I was crowned Prom Princess! –- it wasn’t enough to save me from constantly questioning myself and feeling as though I just never quite measured up.
She gained 100 pounds during her freshman year of college and, quite suddenly, everything changed. Thore was diagnosed with Polycistic Ovarion Syndrome when she was 23 years old, a diagnosis that has made it difficult for her to control her weight gain or to lose weight without a constant struggle.
Through Thore’s presence on TV and her work on the internet, the focus on PCOS has skyrocketed. She’s heard from women all over the world who are dealing with the same diagnosis while doctors have told her that patents have to come them looking for help after seeing Thore on My Big Fat Fabulous Life.
5. Thore Has Worked as a Teacher & Radio Producer
After graduating from college, Thore relocated to South Korea and taught English as a second language to local children. It was there that she first started to re-accept her body. Despite being regularly ridiculed by strangers and questioned by the culture around her, Thore found happiness in helping others and, by extension, helping herself.
Thore started dancing again. It’s what sparked the original ‘Fat Girl Dancing’ music video. Thore told The Irish Examiner:
I started to realize how capable my body was. I started to respect it. I lost 100 pounds in eight months. I decided not to feel ashamed anymore.
When she returned stateside, Thore became the on-air producer of Jared & Katie in the Morning on 107.5 KZL, a major radio station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. On this season of My Big Fast Fabulous Life, Thore continues to take back complete control of her life, venturing further into “adulthood” and moving out of her parent’s house; again.