I was late-night channel surfing one night last week and I came across a TV show on TLC called – My Big Fat Fabulous Life. I watched a few back to back episodes as I found it to be a thoroughly inspiring and empowering show.
As a girl who grew up being made fun of, and consequently, my sharing of my own stories of overcoming in my book, Words We Carry , this show really resonated with me.
The star of this reality show is Whitney Way Thore . Her show focuses around Whitney’s daily life as she struggles with being overweight. Her initial weight gain began when she was 18 years old and she gained 100 pounds within 8 months and was consequently diagnosed with PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. From then on, her weight ballooned with the disorder and was enhanced with the negative emotions that came along with the disease. PCOS is a mysterious disease which is mostly hard to detect.
I gained an instant compassion for Whitney because she uses her show to empower others, not to wallow in self-pity. I’ve always been attracted to shows that deal with people with overweight issues such as: The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weightloss, because it gives me sheer joy watching those people begin to value their self-worth again in their quests to overcome their unhappiness. When those contestants step on a scale after a grueling week of diet and workouts and see their unwanted pounds shed, I sit there rooting for them on from my couch. When I see their elation it brings tears to my eyes.
Whitney’s show is a bit different to those other weight loss shows. Whitney is all about learning to embrace her curves with no shame. Her campaign is called #nobodyshame – No B S. On her show, Whitney runs dance classes for ‘big girls’ who are taught by Whitney to embrace their curves and handicaps from a judgmental world. Many of the girls had never joined any clubs out of embarrassment or fears of being made fun of, but Whitney invites them to a place to express themselves, and where they can feel comfortable and motivated.
In her latest episode, Whitney began a little girl’s dance club as her big girl’s dance club was getting some positive attention. Whitney thought it would be a great idea to start building the esteems of young girls too, especially those who were being bullied for their appearance. She then took it one step further than just building up these girl’s egos, she decided to start talking in schools to other kids to teach compassion for those who pick on the underdogs.
Whitney uses her own weight issues to show others that just because someone is overweight, doesn’t mean they can’t have a full, beautiful life, instead of hiding in the shadows. That’s a beautiful message! Not only is Whitney empowering, she is beautiful inside and out, she’s hilarious, she’s colourful and charismatic, and she’s entertaining to watch.
Recently, Whitney Thore was invited to the Doctor Oz show to talk about her show and she made a very clear statement about what she stands for. She said, it’s not that she’s pro-obesity, rather it’s about learning to love and embrace ourselves.
When I watch #MyBigFatFabLife I don’t feel sad or pity. I just find myself wanting to give that girl a huge hug and tell her how proud I am of her.
While I’m on the subject of PCOS, I’d like to add that an author friend of mine, Debby Carroll, wrote an article in the summer about discovering about the mystery of PCOS when she discovered her own daughter had it. Please read Debby’s article HERE and find out how she finally diagnosed what was going on with her daughter’s mysterious weight gain and symptoms.
In conclusion, many of you may know that there is a Canadian comic, Nicole Arbour, whose youtube video has gone viral lately, about shaming fat people. She’s gotten a lot of press lately, and surprisingly, not so good. Her theory seems to be that her video is supposed to be funny, in jest, to pick on overweight people so they will be shamed into losing weight. In this method, she claims that she is helping them. I find the whole act in terrible taste and very hurtful.
Like Whitney says, shaming people to lose weight is not in a positive light and nobody knows what people are going through by judging them by their weight. Whitney adds that perhaps someone has a condition, or maybe they’re in a depression over losing a loved one. I’m with Whitney; nobody has walked in our shoes. And nobody has the right to judge others.
Please have a listen to this short video Whitney made in response to the fat-shaming video by Nicole.
I’d love to know your thoughts. Have any of you watched My Big Fat Fabulous LIfe?
D.G. Kaye ©October 2015