Body positivity activist Whitney Thore on living your best life, no matter your size

Art by Gaby Serrano

 

The second Saturday of December saw the return of TLC Festival in Bonifacio High Street, and the proceedings were as lively and inspiring as ever. Now called Discovery Festival, the event was tastefully curated, with fun for the whole family, whether you’re looking for a taste of travel, culture, adventure, leisure, or just good food. Of course, the festival wouldn’t have been complete without exciting guests, including animal rescuer Amanda Giese, chef Sherson Lian and his mother Ann, and Fun Taiwan host Janet Hsieh. Also present was My Big Fat Fabulous Life star Whitney Thore, who led a dance workout to foster body positivity. Whitney, who has taught dance classes professionally for quite some time and first came to prominence thanks to her viral “fat girl dancing” videos, notes that people tend to get shy or are afraid to dance in public, so it’s always great for her to see them let loose. “The freedom and the joy that I see on people’s faces when they dance, especially in a big group of people, is so wonderful,” she says.

 

“The freedom and the joy that I see on people’s faces when they dance, especially in a big group of people, is so wonderful.”

 

She was in college when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and gained 100 pounds in a year. “I was not fat, but I wasn’t very skinny, either, so I had body image issues, which I think is unfortunately very common,” she recalls.

“I was very ashamed of myself, but eventually I realized that maybe the answer wasn’t losing weight.” She had lost some of it, but found that she was still struggling with an eating disorder, and she was still unhappy. “Maybe the answer was just taking responsibility for my life and loving myself, and living the way I want,” she says.

“It’s funny. A lot of people would criticize me and say, ‘You don’t take responsibility for yourself,’ but I absolutely do because I’m not waiting until people stop being mean or until people accept me or until I lose weight,” says Whitney. “I know that I have one life, and that I’m responsible for it, and I have to live it the way that I see fit regardless of what my body looks like.”

In an effort to fight for her advocacy, Whitney started the No Body Shame movement, through which she hopes to spread the message of self-love and body positivity, and to shatter prejudice and opinions that fat people are “stupid, lazy, disgusting, ugly, that we aren’t worthy, because we’re human and we deserve love.”

She adds: “I think self-care is very important. I struggle with that sometimes, but it’s important to remember that you can’t really serve others or give to others if you haven’t taken care of yourself.”

 

“…it’s important to remember that you can’t really serve others or give to others if you haven’t taken care of yourself.”

 

Through her journey, she has encountered a number of people who can be awful and hateful, but ultimately, she’s learned that kindness prevails. “People are incredible,” she says. “They are so much more accepting, loving and wonderful than I ever could have imagined. It’s so humbling and overwhelming to connect with people all over the world and really experience that firsthand.”

Asked what she thinks her greatest feat is so far, she answers that it’s simply being herself. “Shame is something that unites all of us,” she explains. Being true to yourself “doesn’t sound like an accomplishment, but it seems to resonate with people all over the world. To be able to represent fat women and for people to be able to turn on the TV and find someone that they relate to, who makes them laugh, makes their lives easier, that’s actually a huge thing.”

 

Catch Whitney Thore in My Big Fat Fabulous Life on TLC.

Tags:
#beauty #events #self #tv

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