Whitney Thore is having a moment. After first rising to fame through her YouTube videos, "A Fat Girl Dancing," the 30-year-old viral star now has her own TLC reality show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life — and Us Weekly has a clip from the new episode, set to air Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 10 p.m.
Once a slender dancer, Thore started gaining weight in college after she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Ironically, though, she has a healthier sense of self now than she did when she was prom queen.
"I actually feel better about myself now than I did when I was 120 pounds," she told Us Weekly and other reporters at a TCA panel for the show in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 8. "I've always felt fat because that expectation has always been on women, and it's just a culture that surrounds being fat — the expectations, the double standards...and those assertions remain unchallenged throughout your formative years, even in your family and friends...I want to change it."
Indeed, Thore hopes that by putting herself out there on TV, she'll start a more "candid" discussion about obesity and the stereotypes it brings up.
"'Fat' is such a dirty word in our society, but after I started to become more confident and I started dancing again, I realized I kind of just got angry," she explained to Today's Natalie Morales in a recent interview. "I kind of wanted to say, 'I'm fat but I'm also fabulous. I'm also intelligent. I have talents and contributions.' My whole self-worth is not dependent on whether I'm fat or not."
For health reasons, she is trying to lose weight — but she wants to make it clear that she's not embarrassed or ashamed about her size. "Wanting to lose some weight and also loving your body are not mutually exclusive," she declared.
As for what it's like to see herself trying on bathing suits on TV? "I'm happy to report that I look at that and I think, 'Go girl!'" she told Morales.