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Being plus size, you know how difficult it is to find plus size representation in television. It’s even harder to find plus size representation in reality television that isn’t inherently exploitative. This is why we are so excited to see that My Big Fat Fabulous Life, which airs on TLC, is BACK for its 9th season!
If you aren’t familiar with the show, here’s a brief summary:
The show follows the life of plus size woman, Whitney Way Thore as she goes through everyday life’s trials and tribulations, alongside her hilarious family and friends. Throughout the years, cameras have followed Whitney around as she navigated relationships, friendship drama, and just figuring out life.
The show does not focus on weight loss transformations, even though Whitney is very passionate about fitness. It is incredible to see someone who is plus size enjoy moving their body without the purpose of losing weight.
Ahead of the show’s premiere, I had the chance to hop on a zoom with Whitney and get the scoop on what we can expect from this season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life!
Whitney Way Thore On The New Season Of My Big Fat Fabulous Life
Mayra Mejia: How exciting is it to be on the ninth season?! Did you imagine on your first season, making it up to nine seasons!?
Whitney Way Thore: It’s crazy and I remember when the first episode aired I was like okay… if we get canceled like right now, it’s okay cuz [I can say] I had an episode on TV and that’s really cool! So I definitely never expected to even get like a season two. I never would have imagined all the way to season nine, so it’s pretty wild!
Mayra Mejia: Why do you think it’s persevered and stayed so popular all these seasons!?
Whitney Way Thore: I think there are several reasons but one is that I have an amazing group of people around me. My family, my friends are super relatable. They’re hilarious, they’re just the most amazing people that you could ever meet.
Something that I hear very often is people saying, “Oh my gosh, I wish I had your parents” or “I wish I had your friends” I’m very lucky to have that. Then I think, as fat acceptance gets more and more opened up to the mainstream, I think that people enjoy that representation on mainstream television.
I think, for me anyway, it’s kind of refreshing that this is a show that is about me as an entire human being and it’s not just a weight-loss show or, you know, how we typically see fat women portrayed.
Mayra Mejia: Absolutely, yeah, I was gonna say like, I adore your parents so much! Just watching you and them interact, it’s just hilarious! Has having them on the show improved or helped your relationship throughout the years, or has it been like a struggle? How is it working with your family and friends on a show like this?
Whitney Way Thore: There’s never been any issues or anything, and I think in some ways it’s made my dad mostly more accepting of me because he’s seen that the public at large accepts me and can love me, and thinks I’m funny or whatever.
So, you know, before the show he was like a little bit more uptight about tattoos or cussing, *laughs* and now he’s like okay well I guess it’s okay!
It’s a lot more positive I would say, as a whole, for them than it is for me. They don’t deal with any harassment or any of the negative stuff, they’re just like floating along like “oh this is so fun”, so yeah, nothing negative has ever come from it for them!
Mayra Mejia: Okay, so now you’re back in Greensboro, you’re working with your partner, your business partner Jessica on No BS Active. How has that been?!
Whitney Way Thore: Working with Jessica has been incredible. She is amazing. She is really positive and uplifting a lot of people don’t know but she used to be big as well. So even though now she’s like a human-machine… people don’t realize that she used to also be bigger. I really think that she’s the best thing that could have ever happened to me in general and No BS Active.
Our app is going to launch soon actually and it’s going to be more streamlined and more easily connectable to people so we’re really excited about that!
Mayra Mejia: Have you gotten your Personal Training certification yet?
Whitney Way Thore: I still have not gotten my personal training certification. That’s a whole thing. Mostly, I think I’m kicking myself in the foot because I picked the hardest one that you can get and I did it on purpose. I did it because I felt like as a fat woman, people are going to, they’re going to want to really know my credentials, and unfortunately, my brain is not what it used to be 15 years ago when I was in college. So that’s been difficult but I am still pursuing it and I think that it will happen soon.
Mayra Mejia: So are we going to see you pursuing that throughout the show?
Whitney Way Thore: Yes. Yeah, absolutely and I also started shadowing Jessica and her father, Will, and start doing some practice sessions with another plus size woman who- there’s a crazy backstory actually as to how I already knew her but didn’t realize that I knew her and it has to do with Avi (Whitney’s ex from season 4). So I did have the opportunity to train her some and that was amazing to get some hands-on experience, and I’m looking forward to doing that more in the future as well.
Mayra Mejia: Oh my gosh. So, what would you say to people that want to get more into fitness, either on the like teaching side or just want to take classes. What should they look out for, and what should they do to make it less intimidating?
Whitney Way Thore: Yeah, I think it really can be scary! A lot of fitness spaces are totally dominated by super fit people, people who have certain ideas about fitness and may hold certain judgments about bigger people. One thing to consider is if you’re not ready to actually get out into a gym in public. That’s why we do No BS Active. We do that exactly for that reason so that people can kind of be guided into a fitness space because I know how intimidating it can be in real life, but beyond that, finding a supportive environment is really key.
You can’t control other people. You can’t control the kind of people you’re going to run into, so I think you just really have to believe in yourself and really give yourself permission that fitness belongs to everybody. It doesn’t matter what size you are, and fitness does not have to be a means to an end. It doesn’t have to be a means to lose weight, it doesn’t have to be a means to make your body smaller.
If you really give yourself that permission and accept yourself it’s going to be easier to deal with the kind of roadblocks. Not to say it’s not still difficult but it’ll be easier to deal with those things when they come.
Mayra Mejia: Great advice!! Okay, switching topics… a big plot point in this new season is your secret mystery Frenchman. So, are we going to get a little sneak peek, a little reveal at some point during the season?
Whitney Way Thore: You know I’m gonna be honest with you, he’s a very private person, which is difficult because I’m obviously a very public person. But, I did want to point out something I find interesting:
So even on my social media, I have him covered up, and I got a lot of comments from people who have some concerns like, “Oh, he doesn’t want to be seen with you” and all that kind of stuff and I’m just thinking myself well, there’s a picture of us like standing outside, like one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world, The Louvre, where there are hundreds of people around.
He doesn’t want to be seen on the internet. He doesn’t want to be seen to an audience of a million people who are really interested in criticizing and critiquing and all the kinds of, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be seen in public with me. I just got back to France recently so we had six weeks together in public everywhere!
But that doesn’t mean that he’s ready to serve himself up on a platter on a global television show or on my Instagram that’s open to the public and has over a million people following it.
I think it’s kind of weird the way we are with social media. The way it’s kind of just expected that it’s something that everybody would do or everybody would be comfortable with.
So, I don’t feel at all that there’s anything shady about it or that he’s embarrassed by me or anything like that! As I said, I was there for six weeks, so I got a pretty good idea of what he was like. But, it is hard to navigate being involved with somebody on reality TV who doesn’t want their face on TV.
Mayra Mejia: I love it. I think it’s cool that you’re making it work, and honoring his privacy. There is definitely a difference between being comfortable being out in public with you and in a relationship and being comfortable exposing yourself to all these critics and strangers! But, things are still going strong?
Whitney Way Thore: They’re… *pauses and laughs*, well you’ll just have to just see how it all works out!
Mayra Mejia: Oohh we definitely will be watching!!