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Thursday, 01 October 2015 07:38

Whitney Thore: Body Acceptance vs. Body Shaming

Written by 
Whitney Thore, Body Acceptance Advocate Whitney Thore, Body Acceptance Advocate YouTube

As I sat down in the dentist's chair yesterday, the Dr. Oz show was airing on the television. Oz was interviewing an obese woman. Whitney Way Thore was speaking against "fat shaming" and had a positive message. But some of her statements took me back. So I decided to find out more about Whitney Way Thore.

Who is Whitney Way Thore?

Thore appeared in a video entitled "A Fat Girl Dancing" in February of 2014. Since then, the video has gone viral. She now has her own reality TV show, "My Big Fat Fabulous Life," on TLC channel. She is also the founder of the "No Body Shaming (No BS)" campaign.

Thore suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is associated with weight gain in women. PCOS is a common hormonal imbalance affecting up to 1 in 10 women.

Once a skinny 122 lbs, Thore gained weight in college. She now weighs 380 lbs, but attributes only 100 lbs of her gain to PCOS.

What is Whitney Thore's message?

Thore told Dr. Oz, "I'm promoting self-love, acceptance and happiness," and that she does not promote obesity. Wikipedia describes Whitney Thore's message as, "body acceptance and positive body image."

Can you tell a person's health from looking at them?

In a response to comedienne Nicole Arbor's fat shaming video, Thore said, "The next time you see a fat person, you don't know whether that person has a medical condition that caused them to gain weight. You don't know if their mother just died. You don't know if they're depressed or suicidal or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don't know. Let me hammer this one home. You cannot tell a person's health, physical or otherwise from looking at them."

Here we are wiggling into a grey area. We cannot tell if a cigarette smoker has lung cancer, but we know smoking increases that chance. The American Medical Association has classified obesity as a disease, so it's hard to claim that a very obese person like Thore is healthy. "Fit and fat" do not go together.

Dr. Oz: "Embrace Your Curves, and Show Them Off"

In another segment of the Dr. Oz show, Thorne said to an obese woman from the audience, "You deserve to feel beautiful, you deserve to wear something form-fitting."

That is of course, a subjective opinion, so it's hard to dispute. While nobody deserves to be shamed for their body weight, we should not reward obesity either. If a 380-pound woman tells herself she looks great, she is not being completely honest with herself. Buying a new wardrobe will not overcome a serious health issue.

Whitney Way Thore is a bright, perky woman who is very obese. Although she doesn't promote obesity, she promotes a state of denial about (men's and) women's health. Body-shaming is cruel and unacceptable. But so is telling yourself you are beautiful when you are morbidly obese.

Thore says she intends to lose 100 lbs because if she gains more weight she won't be able to tie her shoes. The idea that you can eat as much as you want and still be beautiful, as long as you can tie your own shoes, is dangerous. It sends an unhealthy message to a country in which 1/3 of adults are obese.

Watch the videos below and then tell me what you think. Photo via YouTube.

Nicole Arbor's Fat Shaming Video (Dear Fat People):

Fat Girl Dancing Video:

Whitney Thore on Dr. Oz:

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