When it comes to body positivity, there is one person who should be on your radar: Whitney Thore. She has a reality TV show called My Big Fat Fabulous Life, which follows dancing, hitting the gym, and dealing with everyday problems. She also founded a campaign called No Body Shame, and we are living for it.
I asked her what the biggest accomplishment of the campaign was and she said, “Just offering representation.” Every day, all types of people reach out to her after seeing her on TV to express how they feel about seeing someone like them. “I just think for people to turn on the TV and see someone who isn’t the societal norm, and who is still representing themselves with confidence and living a life of happiness and so much love in their life, I think that’s important for people to see and connect with,” she explains. I think this also goes beyond her show and bleeds through to her Instagram account. You will see her post short clips of her just killing it at the gym, showing off her body in a swimsuit, and just living her best life. She also proves that you don’t have to be skinny to be strong and fit. “Being fit and healthy, none of that is exclusive to the size of your body. All the negative stereotypes of fat people, I try to crush that.” That’s a lot of expectation for one person and she knows it. “I hate the pressure of being a ‘good’ fat person. People are like, ‘Oh, you’re fat but you’re active so that’s fine,’ but I really think it doesn’t matter. We don’t look at thin people and say, ‘You’re not active so you suck.’ I think that the basis point is that everyone deserves respect.” This sounds like a common sense but i think we can all use a refresher on being a decent human being.
When asked about role models, she doesn’t have any. “In the media, I never had a role model and I’m happy to be that role model for people who haven’t had one.” She also pointed out that she wasn’t the only one who felt this way, “And, I hear that a lot from people like, I never had someone to look up to because we do have fat women in media but they’re typically parts of shows like The Biggest Loser and they’re crying about their weight or their weight is a big joke.”
I also wanted to dig a bit deeper on what Whitney thinks about body shaming. Now, I’m not saying this is only targeted towards women, but I think most of it is. Whitney said, “I think that women have always been expected to be something that is seen and not heard. We’re expected to look a certain way, act a certain way, and to please whoever is in power, which are men.” Despite this, she is starting to see some level of change in today’s society, mainly between her generation vs. her mother’s. And, yes, to some extent there is some improvement but there is still so much to work on. One example is how some brands have yet to be more inclusive. Whitney shared that, in the US, “The average is a size 16 so it was really interesting to me when brands don’t cater to a certain size of women because there’s more of us. I think it still has to do with the stigma that fat is bad, fat is undesirable, and fat is disgusting.” She also pointed out, “There’s also the opposite side where brands are actually exploiting this body positivity movement and trying to capitalize on it when they don’t really believe it.” Given this, brands now have to work on finding a balance between representing all types of people without it seeming gimmicky.
After speaking to Whitney, I now have new-found motivation to work on myself. There’s so much I can do to get rid of negativity in my own life by being more body positive. Also, after watching her workout routines, I am convinced that i need to train harder on becoming the strongest version of myself. I hope you guys feel the same way after reading this.
Art by Marian Hukom
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