A Few Questions With…Whitney Way Thore of TLC's 'My Big Fat Beautiful Life'

Rock Cellar Magazine

whitney way thore mbffl
Ever since her ‘Fat Girl Dancing’ video went viral a few years ago, Whitney Way Thore has been everywhere.
Her TLC reality show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life just started its third season, and Thore also released her first book, I Do It With The Lights On, a slice-of-life memoir about her show, her life, her cause (the No Body Shame campaign) and the condition she’s battled for more than a decade (PCOS).

As busy as she may be, Whitney took a few minutes out to answer some questions for us about the whirlwind that is her life these days…enjoy.
You’ve mentioned that you don’t view the episodes of My Big Fat Fabulous Life until they air on TLC each week. What’s that like, especially watching moments like when you passed out? Is it scary not knowing what to expect?
Whitney Way Thore: It’s definitely nerve-wracking. This season we shot approximately a thousand hours that are edited into 8 one-hour episodes, I never know what to expect. It’s fun too, though. I am constantly surprised at things I don’t remember, so that’s fun too!

In your book, you name-dropped a few bands that you were into growing up – among them Pearl Jam and Green Day. Do you still listen to them? Any other particular bands/artists you’re into?
Whitney Way Thore: I will always love Pearl Jam, Green Day, Nirvana, and Weezer! I also love the Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, System of a Down, Bleachers, Rihanna, Adele, Sia, Ani Difranco, and Tori Amos. I like to think I’m eclectic!
Before your dance video went viral and led to the show, book, and all those TV appearances, you probably had a relatively ‘private’ life. What’s been the most rewarding and/or difficult aspect of suddenly being in the limelight and having people recognize you?
whitney way thore book
Whitney Way Thore: The general lack of privacy and anonymity is frustrating, but at the same time it also opens me up to a lot of encouragement and love. The hardest part is definitely dealing the the judgement of people who have seen ten hours of your life in a season and think they know everything about you!
Did you ever think you’d be a ‘reality TV star’, and does that designation come with any added pressure to please anyone? 
Whitney Way Thore: It’s definitely difficult. I feel pressure to always say and do the right thing — which of course I don’t. It’s easy to say the right thing in an interview, but not when cameras are following you around all day! I also can’t possibly represent all fat women (or all women at all), all PCOS patients, all feminists, all fat people, etc, but people tend to want me to able to!
Feminism is an important part of who you are, and you go to lengths in the book detailing that. What in your view makes it such a crucial thing for men *and* women, and what purpose would you say it serves in society today?
Whitney Way Thore: Feminism is absolutely important all over the world in different ways. In the West we forget all the places where women don’t have basic human rights. Men and women benefit both from ridding our culture of toxic masculinity! (And in a world where feminism is taken seriously and embraced I think women would have more rights and fewer unsolicited pics, for sure).
No way around it – we live in an ugly, hateful world sometimes. That’s in the news incessantly these days. Individuals strive for positivity, self-acceptance and inspiration to help navigate through the dark times. Since your show took off, have you had issues with maintaining that upbeat attitude, especially considering the nonsense that can come from the Internet sometimes?
whitney way thore no bs
Whitney Way Thore: It can be hard, especially when others tell you to “just ignore it.” Granted, you DO have to “just ignore it” most of the time, but I also can’t be positive and happy-go-lucky all of the time either. Some situations call for tough feelings, for speaking out, and not being silenced.
Now that you’re back home, the cameras are gone and the show’s season has begun, what’s it like going around town when you’re not out on a press run? Are you the Queen of Greensboro now?
Whitney Way Thore: Greensboro has been very supportive of me! But no, mostly I’m running out to get cat food, not running the city!
In your words, why is your story worth telling?
Whitney Way Thore: My story is simply one of self-love and acceptance and learning to live the way I want despite a society that tells me I don’t deserve to. Everyone can relate to the value in that!
What’s next for Whitney?
Whitney Way Thore: Hopefully Season 4! With three seasons and a book behind me, I’d like to just relax a bit! Also the No Body Shame cruise is coming up so I can’t wait for that and the opportunity to meet more fans!
My Big Fat Fabulous Life airs on TLC at 9 PM Wednesday nights.


  • Wanda RN says:

    Whitney needs to go to a doctor that specialises in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Maybe she can make a decision with her doctor about trying Metformin. My daughter who has PCOS went on it to get pregnant. My daughter in law has it and her doctor put her on it to help her feel better. They are discovering that being on birth control pills for PCOS can be really bad especially when you are overweight. I have had 2 blood clots and now on blood thinners the rest of my life. I hope Whitney gets this message. (And anyone else who struggles with Polycystic.)

  • Diane Brooks says:

    I love Whitney and her positive attitude about body shaming, but she in no way is healthy weighing 378 lbs. at 5’2″ tall. She’s beyond just fat, but she’s morbidly obese and we all know that’s not healthy. Quit eating junk food/pizza and all the wrong foods. Like your Dad said all the exercise in the world will not make you lose weigh or be healthy, it is what you eat. He buys her all the right foods and she just laughs him off. She needs to get with the program.

  • Linda T says:

    It made me sad to see that Lenny does not open the passenger door of his truck for Whitney and help her in like any gentleman would. It was very uncomfortable to watch her awkwardly get into his truck without his assistance as he just sat in the driver’s seat looking on. 😟

    • Lisa W says:

      To Linda T. It was hard to watch Whitney struggle to get in Lenny’s truck but that is the whole point. If the people in her life make things easy for her, she will never change her bad habits and loose the weight she needs to.

    • Lucy says:

      I have only seen a clip, I live outside America I have only seen the first episode. But she weighs nearly 400lbs, what is he supposed to do? I’m truly not being mean, she’s let herself get to a point that you can’t just simply lift them up. It may have been almost more embarrassing if he tried to help and was not physically able to do so. Honestly imagine trying to pull/push up 375lb+ it’s not something that can really be done by one person.

  • Sherri says:

    Treatment is different and individual to each “individual” person. What works for one, does not always mean it will work for another. Treatment is based on the clinical presentation of the patient (individual) and it is the patients CHOICE if they desire to “deal” with the “possible” side effects that they may have to endure. The side effects, do not always outweigh the benefits. Also what needs to be considered, insurance, what it covers, and at what cost, is it affordable, is anybody giving resources to make it affordable? People really shouldn’t just jump to assumptions for others. I do not have PCOS, but I do have insulin resistance, AKA metabolic syndrome after gaining weight after having a complete hysterectomy 8 yrs ago. Up until 5yrs ago, I’ve weighed 115-120 pounds all my adult life. I’ve lost faith in doctors trying to find the answer, had several diet books thrown at me although my diet hadn’t changed since prior to my hysterectomy, even my on/gyn would not give me an answer. One doctor told me my hormone replacement was the problem. Reducing the hormones only made feel HORRIBLE and didn’t help. I was told by one dr that I was almost a diabetic and needed to get my sugar under control, I don’t eat a lot of sugar, it’s not really my thing. I started researching and started thinking, since I’m a nurse and like to educate myself, that I fit into metabolic syndrome and found a supplement pack that helped regulate insulin resistance and basically help “reset” your body. Looked for a doctor that had a certain diet program and scheduled an appt, when I got there, found out, after hysterectomy, your supposed to reduce your normal carb intake by 50% or will gain weight. Why couldn’t any other doctor tell me that, I went through 7 other Doctors in 5 years to find this out and I had never heard this before. Prior to seeing him, started the supplements for about 2 weeks and had already lost 11 pounds. Trying a similar diet program than what he provides, but not tolerating, now, low blood sugar episodes and low blood pressure in comparison to my previous need for 3 blood pressure medications. Waiting for further results, hoping promising.

  • Lisa B. says:

    As a large woman, I thought this show might be inspiring, but this person is delusional and makes such bad food choices – especially for someone with pcos. However it’s clear that she’s going to double down on this madness because she’s being rewarded for it. She sleeps with a tube, can’t get into a truck, can’t stand in ski boots, can’t sit in a restaurant chair, has trouble fitting into her office, has back problems, was rushed to the hospital. You know… sometimes Shame is a message. Be embarrassed – embarrassment is a wake up call. But if you don’t want to do “shame” Whitney Way Thore, try Dignity.

  • Kathy Kristy says:

    Whitney-continue to speak for all women who have been mistreated because of ANY difference from what is considered normal.
    I have also been in your shoes, thinking about all the negativism from thin family members and spouse. You are a success and have earned this accomplishment simply by being yourself. You represent the humanity in all of us. Negativism from others is simply jealousy rearing its ugly head. May you continue on–the strength and will of countless numbers of women are behind you!!

  • Lisa says:

    I just cannot watch this woman….why does TLC promote this unhealthy lifestyle.
    When she said “she loves being fat”, I was horrified.
    Wish they’d take this mouth piece off the air!

    • Charla T says:

      I totally agree with you,me myself was overweight and i hated it,i dont have posc but i do have type 2 diabetes and my weight was almost 300lbs,now im 180 and feel do much better,i feel whitney is always downing her weight but then she says she LOVES being fat and then eats pizza chips and other foods that she dont need to be eating,and i do nut like hearing her talk about ger sex life tmi

  • Daria Doubek-Thompson says:

    I really admire Whitney for having the strength to try and downs and continue her life as she wants it to be at her work current week but I really have to question why she would not consider why they’re being treated with metformin for PCOS birth control pill and ultimately why wouldn’t she consider weight loss surgery because that is definitely helpful to lose a lot of weight but she has to do it actually improves the PCOS and it brings it right down into a much more normal range and she will be able to be so much more comfortable. Although I did not suffer with PCOS I did have a 10-pound fibroid tumor and one of my ovaries and I got that removed and then about a year later I had lap band surgery cost 126 pounds I have never felt better in my life and I also have thyroid disease and I also have asthma. Whitney I challenge you and I can give you the name of the terrific surgeon here in Florida who I trusted my daughter 2 he has done miracles for her and she has but PCOS and has lost a lot of weight.

  • Robin Dabbs says:

    People with negative comments are jealous. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all ! Whitney is amazing. I love her!

  • Robin Dabbs, Surprise, AZ says:

    Being thin on the outside doesn’t make you pretty on the inside. Jealousy is ugly. Ugly spirited is bone deep. Negative comments are from jealousy. Anyone writing negative comments about Whitney is doing so because they are jealous.
    Whitney ia AMAZING ! And body shamers are not.

  • Maggie says:

    The first time I watched this show was the time Whitney said she liked being fat!? Really? I’m overweight and absolutely HATE every moment, how can this statement be believable? How could this be true?
    Watching you struggle to get into a truck, unable to stand on ski’s , suffering from back problems,I’m sure has sleep apnea, who when trying to do a backward roll for a dance couldn’t achieve because , well , let’s face it, you were too big and then was rushed to the hospital after the dance marathon because you passed out, who’s deceiving who? I love that you want to get healthy but with the food choices you make I doubt that goal could be reached. You’re cute and bubbly but please, be real with yourself.

  • Diane Brooks says:

    Whitney is starting to get on my nerves with all her comments and her attitude of being right all the time. She needs to wake up before she drops dead of a stroke or heart attack. What must her cholesterol be, does her doctor check it every year? Please Whitney get some help and start listening to your friends and family who love you before it’s too late. Also, stop talking so fast and loud.

  • Barbie M says:

    Whitney, Love your show and message. PLEASE get some help on weight loss. Exercising alone will not do it! WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT YOU!!!

  • Barbie M says:

    See above

  • CC says:

    She’s mean, egotistical, delusional, and dead wrong about her weight/health. Wake up girl, before you are just plain dead!

  • Contrary to what those who defend Whitney say, being factual isn’t jealousy. Framing it into something it is not is manipulative and designed to stop people from saying what you don’t wish to face.
    Whitney can make her choices but she’s the only 1 facing the consequences. It’s her life, her destiny and her health.

  • Darlene smith says:

    I think she is a very beautiful women no one has the right to put her down just because she is a lil big the people that put her down suck just saying leave her alone.

    • Frustrated fan says:

      I am a fan of her message and have pcos and I am “a lil big” but that’s at 5′ 10″ (not 5’2″) and 195, not 390… Over weight is a bmi of 25-29.9, and obese is 30+ but she has a bmi of 71.32, so with a bmi of 27.26 I am “a lil big” – so she needs to grow another 5 feet or watch what she eats. I get that shaming people has been proven to have the opposite effect than was intended,so her message is good – but she will need a double size coffin if she can’t learn to eat less, more often, and better quality food – it’s what helps with insulin resistance, not skipping breakfast and having a box of suger cereal for dinner.
      I hope she figures it out so she can live and spread her message, and add to it that yes it’s hard not to eat what you feel like, whenever you feel like it, but there is a saying about people eating to live or living to eat and she clearly does the latter. I don’t like getting up and eating breakfast or planning 4-5 more small meals to keep a steady blood sugar level when I could sleep extra…that’s what I prefer, get up last minute… But if I want to live with pcos since forever, but my mom started taking me to the gyn at 14 to see what the issue was and I still wasn’t diagnosed until I was 23, when I found the “syndrome” as it was called at the time and started dealing with the cards I was delt.

  • I think she is right about not body shaming people and loving yourself and showing others respect. I find her funny, charming, and adventurous….BUT…she cannot pretend that she is healthy, physically fit, or on her way to a long healthy life. Body shaming is wrong but do not call people who are concerned about your health(like your parents) fat haters, jealous, and so on. If her health does not become a bigger focus, she will eventually be unable to dance or anything else she can still do now. She really does need to make health changes, not to look better, but to live better!

  • sheila lacey says:

    Whitney makes me happy.

  • Leanne says:

    I love Whitney and watching her is uplifting but I am worried about her too. I am watching a recap and see her eating pizza & spagetti, hurting her back in the shower and being rescued by her room mate. Seems like she needs to eat better and maybe go for weight loss surgery. Being so overweight is really tough on the joints, the feet and the spine. I am amazed that she can dance so well but afraid she won’t be able to do so much longer. I have scoliosis and it is a dehabilitating disease. I would hate for her to wind up affecting the quality of her life as mine has been degraded completely!

  • Tasha Rhodes says:

    I love Whitney because she has such an outgoing personality!!! She makes me smile & laugh and not feel so all alone!
    I want to move to Greensboro just to take her class. Is this normal? LOL
    I’d give anything to be on a cruise with her!! I’m disabled/retired due to fibromyalgia. BUMMER!!!
    Maybe someday I’ll meet her! 😊

  • Pat says:

    Whitney is a pretty girl but her “potty mouth” is a BIG turnoff for my viewing preferences.
    The program would be better if that were to be cleaned up some. I think she does a great job otherwise….good luck to her in the future..

  • Anita N. says:

    Watched last show yesterday. This season was about Buddy mostly. I think that Whitney is the love of his life. It frustrates him that this isn’t mutual. I think that is a part of the problems he had. He dated whitney’s “best” friend heather but whitney always stand between them. Even yesterday while Buddy tried to explain things to heather She just staid there which was very okward for Heather. Assume that Heather had wanted to ask something that was very private or other things that are of no concern to whitney. Whitney can really be a very dominating person. I’m sure of it that she knows Buddy sees more to her than just friends. She likes it to stay that way while Buddy especially moved to another place / town. It has a lot to do with that and Whitney won’t except that. She was planning to meet him already shortly after he moved out. She doesn’t respect his feelings. She want’s everything to go her way. Shameless.

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