Appalachian State alumna and TLC television host Whitney Way Thore will be speaking at the Schaefer Center about building body confidence Sunday at 2 p.m.
Thore first found herself in the spotlight once her YouTube video series, “A Fat Girl Dancing,” went viral. Through interviews with CNN, Steve Harvey and the Today Show, Thore used her fame to spread a message of body positivity and founded the “No Body Shame Campaign” where she sought to help individuals love themselves and their bodies without shame.
A month after the video went viral, Thore received an email from a TLC executive about starting a television series. The show, “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” originally aired on Jan. 13, 2015 and has run for two seasons.
“The T.V. show is just a look at my life,” Thore said. “There’s a focus on my daily life as a fat person, which is important because fat people are underrated in the media. I’m not the butt of a joke or a stereotype.”
Thore said the show focuses on her health, the dance class she teaches called “Big Girl Dance Class” and her relationships with her family and friends.
“My family loves it. When we first got into it, we were really nervous since they can edit you into anything they wanted you to be,” Thore said. “I have a positive relationship with everyone at TLC. We saw it and we were so thrilled. Everything that is shown is a really accurate portrayal, and it’s affecting a lot of people.”
Lynn Church, the event coordinator and the chief business officer for Reich College of Education, saw Thore’s video for her “No Body Shame Campaign” and found Thore’s message to match the values and views of the Diversity and Social Justice Working Group in the Reich College of Education.
“I think her positive attitude about body image is really refreshing and needed,” Church said. “I hear students, including my own high school daughter, talking about how they do not like their bodies, and her message about being happy with your body and not letting others influence how you feel about your body image is important.”
Church said that she loved the television show, especially the positive way she represents herself.
“I always look forward to seeing what she is going to do next. I especially liked when she walked in a 5K with her father. She really pushed herself and I really respected that,” Church said.
Elizabeth Prier, a junior at Appalachian State, heard about Thore on the radio station, 107.5 KZL talking about her time at Appalachian State and her “No Body Shame Campaign.”
“Whitney’s message about body positivity is important to me because I think we need to see more fat women on TV and in the media,” Prier said. “I’m tired of the fat girl being the funny fat girl in every single TV series.”
Prier said that Thore has been brave with being public on her struggle with self-confidence and her journey to a positive view of herself and others she has now. Prier is inspired by her feminism in broadcasting because it is a male-dominated industry.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see a fat, feminist, successful woman on TV and in the media,” Prier said.
After Thore’s presentation, there will be a question and answer session so the audience can get to know her and learn how to adapt the body positive message to their own lives.
“I think it’s knowing we all have intrinsic value, and the way our bodies work doesn’t dictate the course of our lives and how valuable we are,” Thore said. “It’s recognizing we only have one body, and we have to be in them until the day we die. It’s about loving your body instead of being its critic.”
The event is free and open to the public, however, it is first come, first serve. After the 1,600 person occupancy has been filled, the doors will close.
By: Molly Flinchum, A&E Reporter