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: 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: 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.