Whitney Thore’s Successful Journey to Overcome Negative Body Image


Did you say the F-word?

whitney thore fat fabulous lifeWhen it comes to self-acceptance, a self-described ‘fat and fabulous’ woman is getting national attention because she is choosing to live her life and pursue her passions in the body she has today.

What a concept.

So many women who struggle with their weight put aspects of their lives on hold until a magic number is reached, whether that number be a certain size or a number on the scale.

But happiness and self-acceptance start when you’re free to pursue your dreams and passions, and that freedom comes from overcoming a negative body image.

Whitney Thore’s Struggles with PCOS, Weight and Poor Body Image

She struggled with her own weight in her teen years as a result of an undiagnosed medical condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which causes hormone imbalances in women that can result in inexplicable rapid weight gain.

In an attempt to manage her weight gain, Whitney delved into extreme dieting and boot camp type exercise to try and lose weight. However, her disordered eating in the form of extreme dieting developed into an eating disorder, and her boot camp approach to exercise turned into a compulsive exercise disorder.

Weight Stigma Pressures Women to Lose Weight, Hate Their Bodies

She admits that her sense of urgency to lose weight was driven by feeling the impact of weight stigma in this society (prejudice against people due to size and/or shape). Being fat in a culture that is prejudicial against fat people was no picnic.

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Tess Holliday: Model And Body Image Activist Says  #EffYourBeautyStandards

In fact, she was feeling so miserable and self-rejecting that she contemplated ending her life entirely. Fortunately, she realized that although she couldn’t change the culture she lived in, she could change how SHE viewed herself. Check out this interview which highlights this change in her thinking.

“You’re not going to make a sustainable change or successfully pursue health or happiness if you hate yourself,” says Thore

Taking Her Power Back By Overcoming Negative Body Image

whitney thorne quote i am worth more than my appearanceHer realization that self-loathing was getting her nowhere and that putting her life on hold instead of LIVING was not working began a restorative journey toward learning how to take her power back.. And then a funny thing happened.

The shift in how she perceived herself ended up creating a life she could never have dreamed was possible. The pursuit of her passions, of living instead of enduring her life, has put her in an unintended but welcome role of inspirational mentor.

Her example of cultivating acceptance, compassion and love for herself has inspired many others to do the same.

Whitney’s personal quest to unhook from the negative influence of weight stigma and embrace self-acceptance ended up influencing the culture at large simply through leading by example, and she has added a voice of reason within the roar of size-ism.

How to Reach Self-Acceptance and Overcome Self-Criticism

Well, since childhood Whitney had a passion for dancing and often performed on stage, but she let go of this passion when she gained weight. She decided to rekindle her passion for dancing, and this decision created a whirlwind of positive change in her life.

Whitney decided to create videos of herself dancing that have consistently gone viral over the last year, which speaks to the fact that society has had enough of not feeling good enough, thin enough, smart enough, tall enough, short enough – or the ‘not enoughness’ as I call it – that can stop us in our tracks.

This tunnel vision around the feelings of ‘not enoughness’ does not motivate change because you can’t create positive change in the absence of self-regard. If self-criticism worked – it would have ‘worked’ by now, whatever that feels like or looks like – right??

We Need More Body Image Idols Like Whitney Thore

We need more role models like Whitney who is no longer waiting to live life, but instead grabbing the bull by the horns and choosing to embrace what she loves most as a pathway toward self-love and renewal from the inside out. Oh, and btw – this girl can dance

Watch Video: 1075 KZL’s A Fat Girl Dancing: Talk Dirty to Me (Jason Derulo)

7 responses to “Whitney Thore’s Successful Journey to Overcome Negative Body Image”

  1. Diane says:

    Very irresponsible to glorify this woman. PCOS is not some rare, weird, uncontrollable phenomenon, and by propagating the idea that it’s impossible to control one’s weight/health when living with PCOS , she is doing a disservice to millions of women who have it, and to anyone with a metabolic disorder. There is NO MEDICAL REASON WHATSOEVER for her to weigh as much as she does (and, medical realities aside, it’s cringe-worthy to watch her split her pants, break a porch swing, joke about it, etc.) – I have PCOS. I educated myself about the disorder and made a huge lifestyle change to a strict diet of clean, whole foods (protein, veggies, minimal fruit/dairy/grains) and an hour of real exercise daily. I lost 80 pounds in 7 months and I have kept it off for 9 years as of April, going from 220 pounds to 140. I’m extremely fit and have better lab results than women half my age. I take my condition seriously and am committed to managing my health. Is it easy? I don’t know, but it’s easier than weighing 380 pounds or whatever she weighs. Someone with a more severe case of PCOS may require a daily med like metformin in addition to diet and exercise to manage the condition. Is it worth it? YES, your health is irreplaceable. It is so wrong of TLC to promote her as a positive example when she is doing NOTHING to take care of herself…and it’s embarrassing to think she’s willing to make a fool of herself on TV for a measly paycheck. She’s a circus freak being exploited by TV…the previews for the season finale (already?) show her crying over getting some bad news about her health..seriously? She’s surprised? Crocodile tears. She is not positive, she is pathetic. And her/TLC spreading false information about PCOS is dangerous. Shame on you for praising her bad example. There is nothing good or okay about being 380 pounds. NOTHING.

    • kath says:

      i agree, her wt will kill her if she doesnt lose…its NOT funny, its sad . i know dieting isnt fun but eating healthy does become a good habit after a little while, then u dont want unhealthy foods. i have to eat high protein , low carbs, or i gain wt easily, being post menopausal and hypoglycemic.

      • Erin says:

        Hi Kath – I understand where you are coming from for sure. In my experience in working with women who are struggling with their weight and incorporating healthy choices, a very first important step is self-acceptance and self-compassion. I find that loving instead of loathing oneself acts as a springboard for implementing self care. It’s an important first step…

  2. Erin says:

    Diane, I first want to congratulate you on managing your PCOS so well. My intent with this blog was to shed light on someone who is not putting her life on hold until she reaches a certain weight. It was not intended to highlight her TV show for which I am not as familiar with as you are – so noted on my end. It is clear like many women she is on her own unique journey toward creating health and well-being, and still trying to find her way. However, along that journey she isn’t allowing weight stigma to shame her into a place of giving up on the pursuit of her passions – or on her life entirely for that matter, for which I find commendable.

  3. Caring in the Midwest says:

    I just love people that think that obesity is a choice but drug addiction, alcoholism, anorexia or bulemia are diseases. If this were some kind of easy solution don’t you think we could wipe out obesity? If Whitney doesn’t want to weigh so much, but hating herself for it is worse than any ignorance displayed here. Good for you that you have controlled it for 9 years but how dare you admonish her or any who hasn’t. Who the hell are any of you to judge someone who struggles with obesity? Oh I forgot, because of how they look. You can’t tell by looks if someone beats their spouse or kids, abuses their kids, huffs cleaning fluids, is addicted to coke or drinks to much. This is so unfair that you think you have the right to judge someone who is overweight.

  4. Karen says:

    OK, I know nothing of this woman or her show, but I am truly shocked at how judgmental women can be of other women and people in general. I have been working with dysfunctional eating, PCOS, weight cycling, food angst, body image disorders and the wide continuum of dis-ease around food and body image. I have 28 yrs of experience as a registered dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and am also a Certtified Intuitive Eating Coach. It saddens me to hear how prejudice our society is around weight and doesn’t acknowledge the other end of that equation: people who never love themselves no matter what their size and resort to all sorts of extreme dieting, plastic surgery, etc. to fit into an unattainable standard. Even as a dietitian, I feel that what other people eat and weight is not my business unless someone invites me into that sacred circle. What is needed is a big dose of compassion, not judgement. At one time the Goddess body was promoted as the ideal and larger bodies were a sign of wealth. Did you ever stop to think that it is society that is setting the standard, not an authentic pursuit of wholeness and total health? If you want an eye opening view read the obesity myth. Heath and body size are not mutually exclusive. Let’s embrace Heath at Every Size. K.I.

  5. Erin says:

    Hi Karen,

    Yes – compassion and suspending judgment is key – for others and for Self. We embrace the Health at Every Size philosophy here at Green Mountain as well because size does not automatically denote health status, happiness, fitness level, etc… Thank you for taking the time to share – I would love your professional contact info for referring. Please email me at erin@fitwoman.com. Thank you!

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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