Whitney Way Thore is arguably one of the most popular overweight individuals in the world, as her weight is exactly what got her a career. Born on 14 April 1984, in Greensboro, North Carolina USA, Whitney has become a household name over the years. Her journey has been full of ups and downs, which earned her both fame and infamy, as she nowadays has plenty of supporters, as well as those who greatly dislike her, but presumably still tune-in to the show.
While Whitney is generally best known for having her own reality TV series, entitled “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” that show is only a culmination of the numerous events that shaped her both mentally and physically until present day. In order to truly understand who Thore is, it’s important to put a magnifying glass on this celebrity’s history.
An almost star
She grew up in a loving family with her parents, Barbara ‘Babs’ and Glenn Thore, and her younger brother, Hunter. Whitney was a talented dancer from a young age, and started taking dance lessons when she was only three years old, subsequently becoming rather proficient at ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance. She combined these skills to enter various national dance competitions, and performed quite admirably in her early childhood.
Thore’s love for the entertainment industry began to flourish properly in 2000, when she was accepted into the Theatre Summer Enrichment Program at the Governor’s School of North Carolina of Meredith College. After matriculating from Page High School in 2002, she enrolled in Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, ultimately graduating in 2006 majoring in theatre, with a minor in dance.
Her academic success, however, wasn’t enough to provide her with a satisfactory life, as she had already been carrying excess weight for a while, upon graduation. This calorie gain came about when Whitney’s health took a drastic turn in her teenage years, at which point she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that caused her to bulk up by more than 200lbs (90kgs).
The year 2000 was as eventful as it was tragic for Whitney, since her father was then diagnosed with a rare neurological condition called Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that affects the brain’s ability to control movements, emotions, and cognitive function. Whitney was devastated by the news, and her family’s life changed dramatically in their long journey of adjusting to Glenn’s illness.
Thore realized upon graduation that she needed a change of environment to try and leave her issues behind, causing her to move to South Korea to teach children English, and continue dance training. Things didn’t turn out to be any better over there, however, as she would constantly face negative comments day-to-day, up until the day when she couldn’t take it anymore.
She returned to the US in 2008, and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a professional dancer. She landed a job with a prominent dance company, and performed in numerous shows across the country, but just dancing well wasn’t enough. Whitney’s weight began to become an issue, and she was eventually let go by the employer because of her size.
— Whitney Way Thore (@whitneywaythore) March 8, 2017
Thore then returned to North Carolina, and quickly fell into a deep depression. She gained even more weight, and struggled with her self-esteem. At some point she even turned to online dating, but found that many men she met were only interested in her because they had a weight kink.
Despite numerous setbacks, Whitney eventually found the determination to regain her confidence and take control of her life. She signed a contract with 107.5 KZL as an on-air radio producer of “Jared & Katie in the Morning,” and even created a dance class for people of all sizes called No Body Shame. This idea quickly became a rather popular venture, earning her a reputation as a body positivity activist overnight.
That said, even after a few years of having a life better than ever before, Whitney was still far from rich, famous and televised. This finally changed out of nowhere in 2014, when 107.5 KZL decided to create a YouTube video for the aforementioned radio show, in which Whitney was seen dancing to Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.”
The resulting video, known all over the internet as “A Fat Girl Dancing,” received millions of views in quick succession after being uploaded on 28 February 2014, turning Thore into a sensation out of the blue. As the internet couldn’t stop talking about her, with many admiring just how agile she is and how well she moves considering her size, Whitney was inundated with requests to appear on talk shows, and was eventually offered her own reality TV series on TLC, which she entitled “My Big Fat Fabulous Life.”
Fat and famous
As of early 2023, the series has been running for over eight years, with ten seasons aired since its release. Thore navigates various challenges throughout the show, including career struggles and relationship blunders, with her bubbly personality, unique sense of humor, and an undeniable abundance of courage. One of the show’s central themes is her quest for love, and the audience is taken along for the ride as she depicts her romantic conquests in the dating world as a plus-sized female.
One of the most significant storylines in the series is Thore’s relationship with her ex-fiancé Chase Severino. The couple became engaged during the show’s eighth season, but the arrangement was ultimately called off after Severino cheated on her with another woman. The fallout from this event was a significant plotline in the following season, throughout which she struggled to come to terms with the end of the relationship.
Whitney’s family is also a central focus of the show. Her mother suffered from recurring hemorrhagic strokes in the show’s tenth season, leaving the family utterly devastated – an event they had a very hard time wrapping their heads around, with some theorizing that the show is nearing its end.
Whitney herself believes that Babs experienced cardiac arrest due to the overwhelming stress caused by a great many aspects of their extremely public lives, as well as the numerous dramatic events in their private circles. Her father has also been a significant presence in the series, and viewers began to empathize with him much more following the incident.
The unfortunate situation culminated in Barbara Thore’s passing on 7 December 2022, which is still a very fresh wound in the family. It’s actually yet to be seen how exactly Barbara’s loved ones are taking the loss, with many suggesting that Whitney’s likely to stress-eat even more than in the past, implying further possible weight gain and health deterioration.
In addition to Thore’s personal life, the show also features her career endeavors. She is the founder of No BS Active – a fitness company that promotes body positivity and inclusivity. The series has closely followed Thore in her effort to grow the business, and overcome various obstacles in the professional field.
Not everything has been sunshine and daisies for the series’ reputation either, as its content managed to launch a fair share of controversies over the years. In the show’s ninth season, there was speculation about why dancer Ryan Andreas left the cast, with some fans suggesting that he was fired due to his rocky personal relations with Whitney. That notwithstanding, any significant information regarding this event is yet to be divulged by either of the celebrities.
Another quite dramatic turn in Whitney’s life was, according to her admission to People magazine, the idea of getting weight loss surgery. While in most circumstances this is considered to be the proper course of action, it would only serve as a career suicide button in Whitney’s case, who built her entire persona upon being proud of how overweight she is.
Thore revealed that after her ex-fiancé Chase Severino cheated on her and got another woman pregnant, she felt the need to change her body. She explained how reaching the at-the-time lowest point in her life prompted serious considerations, including even weight loss surgery. She ultimately decided against it, however, by coming to the conclusion that it’s simply not her cup of tea.
While it’s undeniable that reducing her weight would be a drastic lifestyle improvement, Whitney hasn’t been keen on the idea of a healthy weight for decades now, ever since her time in South Korea. What is most unfortunate in this case is that a lot of her fans would actually hate the change, since they revel in her celebration of the shape she’s been shamelessly promoting from the get-go.
The mission of No BS Active
Probably one of the most unexpected actions ever taken by Thore was the creation of a workout program. No BS Active was her brainchild, with personal trainer Jessica Powell. The program boasts a massive focus on making fitness accessible to everyone, regardless of their size or fitness level.
Thore and Powell created it to address the lack of inclusivity in the fitness industry. The No BS Active workout plan thus offers multiple modifications and clear instructions for all levels, making sessions easy to follow for beginners and experienced athletes alike. The program includes 25 new workouts, five new stretch sessions, 10 new meditations, and over 100 tutorials each month, making it a comprehensive fitness and lifestyle program for literally ‘every body.’
No BS Active originally started as a subscription-based program that users could access through a web browser, but in October 2021, Thore and Powell announced the launch of the No BS Active app, available on Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Roku, and Amazon, costing $19.99 per month.
The app includes all the features of the web-based program, with the added convenience of subscribers being able to access it on a mobile device or TV. Workouts can be done at home with little to no equipment, making it easy for users to fit physical activity into their busy schedules. The app also includes exclusive content, such as new workouts, stretch sessions, and meditations, updated each month.
Interestingly, the program was initially created with personal trainer Ryan Andreas, but following Thore’s dramatic split with fiancé Chase Severino, and tensions subsequently arising between her and Andreas, who is Chase’s friend, Powell took over as Thore’s new partner.
Jessica is by all means instrumental in the program’s long-term effectiveness, as she’s responsible for much of the behind-the-scenes work, including editing and creating new content, at which point she draws on her vast knowledge and experience regarding fitness, which Whitney realistically doesn’t have.
Her small, slim, unremarkable personality
Whitney’s lately been scrutinized by several news outlets for her increasingly erratic behavior over the last few seasons, with many fans and journalists beginning to notice a clear shift in her interests and ideals. In other words, it’s no longer clear to many people what she actually stands for.
For example, the crowds are tired of Thore’s constant advertising on her social media pages, with a notable example being the video she posted right before Valentine’s Day 2022, in which she is seen singing in the shower and ultimately reaching for an adult toy, using her lack of a romantic partner to promote a product.
Others have also pointed out that the reality TV star has been shifting blame towards others in a very evident manner within the past few seasons, describing her as someone who would rather bring the entire castle down with her, than suffer her issues alone.
While it’s certainly easy to make judgment on situations one isn’t personally involved in, Whitney still has more than one chance to prove these allegations wrong in future installments of “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” as it’s quite possible that her ostensibly worsening behavior is a simple coping mechanism for everything she has gone through recently.
Finally, her dwindling romantic life most likely only exacerbates these issues further, and so her staunch supporters remain hopeful that a fresh masculine presence could quite possibly ease Whitney’s suffering, and quickly help her get back on the horse. All of that, and more, remains to be witnessed in the 11th season of the series “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”.