Whitney Thore honored at TLC’s Give A Little Awards, talks new season of love, and changing Bill Maher’s mind

Whitney Thore dished on the new season being filmed ahead of the award ceremony in NYC. Pic credit:: TLC
Whitney Thore dished on the new season being filmed ahead of the award ceremony in NYC. Pic credit:: TLC

TLC is all about the love and walking the talk as the third annual Give A Little Awards are happening this Wednesday in New York City, and Monsters and Critics got to speak with one of the recipients, Whitney Thore, ahead of the show.

The award is a partnership with TLC and Love Is Louder, a project of The Jed Foundation. And on October 2, 2019, at Union Park Events in New York City, some famous folks and less well known but amazing advocates who work tirelessly to eradicate bullying and promote kindness for future generations are to be honored.

Emmy Award-winning journalist and TLC personality Lisa Joyner will emcee the event.

Joining Thore in being recognized are Taye Diggs (The CW’s All American) and actress, activist, and author Skai Jackson.

There are three national award winners too, Danica Roem who became the first transgender person to be elected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Representatives.

Also honored are Barbara Buckley, Angela Varney, Christina Varney and Mia Varney of Annie’s Kindness Blankets, created in memory of Anne Marie Varney, a mother of three: Angela, Christina, and Mia. Lastly, student activist Devin Moore, founder of #RaceToSpeakUp.

TLC fans know and adore Whitney Thore, star of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life. Her day in the life series takes us through her lens of laughter and learning to overcome insensitive and downright mean remarks about her weight.

Suffering Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Thore has learned how to live life to the fullest and best on her terms. Shame is out, and self-love and care are what she is all about.

“We continue to be inspired by the tremendous work being done in communities all over the country by past and current GIVE A LITTLE honorees,” said Howard Lee, President and General Manager of TLC in a press statement. “TLC proudly shines a light on stories that champion authenticity, diversity, and acceptance, and which we hope to encourage others to celebrate what makes them special.”

What is Give A Little?

This award, now in its third year, is a national, multiplatform campaign which helps people make a positive impact on the lives of those in need, by transformative acts of giving kindness and compassion.

TLC airs many series where people are facing all sorts of challenges, and they hope to inspire all fans to take a stand against bullying and promote kindness throughout their communities.

TLC is also partnering with Threadless, an online community of artists, to “amplify the universal messages of love, kindness and acceptance during National Bullying Prevention Month (October) and throughout the year.”

Threadless also sponsored a design challenge with artists to get submissions for unique bullying prevention-inspired t-shirts.

The top design will be unveiled during the Awards ceremony this Wednesday, and the winner will receive a Grand Prize pack with a retail value of $1500.

About Whitney Thore

When Whitney Thore left college, her weight and health were directly affected as a result of PCOS. Despite the diagnosis, she courageously posted a dance video on YouTube in January 2014.

It changed her life.

A Fat Girl Dancing became an overnight sensation, and it turned her life upside down. Since 2015, TLC has championed Thore with a TV series that is now in its sixth season.

Whitney manages a dance career, continues to fight through body shaming and deals with the PCOS, while she navigates her tribe of family and friends on an emotional and entertaining ride. Her goal? World domination and eradication of the shame game.

Whitney launched the No Body Shame Campaign (#nobodyshamecampaign), a movement that works to fight body shame and promote self-love and acceptance.  The goal is to take the stigma off the “different” label and live to the fullest no matter what the scale says. “Love yourself. Live fully. No excuses. No shame.”

We spoke to Whitney today:

Monsters and Critics: Whitney, you’re getting an important award on Wednesday, talk a little bit about what you know about it.

Whitney Thore: Well, I found out that I was one of the recipients just over a phone call with a TLC employee and I was really excited. I haven’t gotten an award for something since, I don’t know… high school! (laughs) I was really excited, and the “Give A Little” initiative is something that is right up my alley.

If I was going to get an award for something, I would want it to be this. It was actually created in partnership with “Love is Louder,” and the basic goal is just to empower people to take a stand about against bullying and raise awareness about bullying prevention, and just really promote kindness. It really aligned with the things that I hope become a by-product of people watching my show.

M&C: One of the things that struck me from the very beginning with your show and one of the things that that I think that you were a beneficiary of was how your mom and your dad just love you so much. They were just there for you, and a lot of people don’t have that talk about how important that structure is in the family.

Whitney Thore: I get this question a lot from people who asked me what they can do if they don’t have any friends or family, and it’s always really hard for me to realize that things were still is difficult for me as they were even with my family.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to not have that, but on the flip side, you know my family wasn’t perfect, especially when it would come to dealing with my weight.

I’ve had to really look at my parents and tell them the things that I thought that they did wrong. It was really pretty awkward to write a book and write down all those things and then had read it.

So I don’t want to diminish the importance of having that support… but if you don’t have it, I also don’t want for anyone to think that they can’t make it without it … especially you know if it’s not your biological family that’s okay.

I think that you’ve got to try to find people thought to surround yourself with who are positive who are kind, and whether that’s your actual family or whether it’s not, I think at the end of the day it’s not going to matter.

But I’m definitely very fortunate to be blessed with both. I have amazing family and amazing friends.

M&C: You have a great personality. Everyone responds so positively to you, people kind of fan girl out a bit when they meet you. But look at the culture wars today, Bill Maher’s recent “new rule” was bringing shame back for obesity, and James Cordon responded to him in his way. I was wondering if you had a response to Maher, who really is a tsk-tsker to anyone with weight issues.

Whitney Thore: I actually avoided that whole thing. I’ve heard of it, but I did not actually see what Bill Maher said, nor did I see what James Corden said.

But that attitude that basic attitude of that fat-shaming work is prevalent, and to me, it’s just ridiculous. We actually have studies that prove that fat-shaming causes people to gain more weight. Which I mean, for people who hate fat people… they wouldn’t care about something like that. They wouldn’t care about a statistic like that.

But mostly I just feel compassion for people who really believe that fat-shaming is effective because I know that they themselves feel shame about their [own] body and that they themselves would feel ashamed if they were fat.

And while it makes me really annoyed and angry, I just try to stop and remember to have compassion… because I was one of those people not too long ago myself, you know. I was a self-hating fat person.

So I think that it’s important that we speak out against that. I think it’s important that fat people are vocal about the effects of shame and why that doesn’t help us.

In fact, my TEDx talk was all about shame and how debilitating it is. Because, when it really came down to it, when I reduced everything that had happened to me, and what being fat was like and all of that… it all boils down to just feeling ashamed.

And when we feel ashamed, no progress can be made. Shame is a dark place, and it’s paralyzing.

So as long as we feel that way, you know… what Bill Maher doesn’t understand is that somebody might feel that way and they might drop 100 pounds… and then that might make Bill Maher happy because he’s only looking at them from the outside.

What he doesn’t see it that on the inside that individual didn’t solve any problems, they didn’t resolve any like life trauma over just like losing 100 pounds so people wouldn’t make fun of them. Like, none of that happened.

The goal, I think, for every human being if I could choose whether people like my outside or whether I liked my inside, I would choose liking my inside personally.

M&C: Would you ever accept an invitation to go on his show to counter him?

Whitney Thore: Yes, I think I would just because, to be honest, if he were a lesser-known person I wouldn’t, because this is a waste of my time. With him being as visible as he is, I definitely would, just for the hope that I could reach someone who otherwise maybe would have never thought about what I would have to say, yes.

M&C: You’re in town for this award along with some other people – the national contest winners…

Whitney Thore: I’m really excited to meet everybody, and I just think it’s really inspiring especially the ages of some of these people. I just think it’s incredible. I’ll be in very, very good company

M&C: How many seasons are you in for your show?

Whitney Thore: In season 6, and for airing, it depends. I mean, from when we start shooting the last few seasons aired in January, but I don’t have any information as to after this season, and we’re still shooting it… so it takes a long time to get all the materials so I’m not exactly sure, but I will be excited when it does!

M&C: What’s the flavor of this season? What can they look forward to?

Whitney Thore: Well, I think this could be the season of love… in a way that definitely has never happened on the show. So that’ll be exciting to kind of, yeah…

I mean, I’ve experienced and am experiencing love in a way that I haven’t in a long, long time. So that would be fun to share.

Also, I would say of change… there are a lot of changes. I moved. I moved away from my family and my friends, but they’re still in my life because they could never get rid of me (laughs).

But yeah and I started a new business… I think love and change would be the theme. There’s a lot of new stuff.

M&C: Congratulations on the award, and I hope that I do see on Bill Maher’s HBO show, if you talk to him I think you would make a fan out of him.

Whitney Thore: (laughs) Well, thank you very much!

The third annual Give A Little Awards, presented in partnership with Love Is Louder, a project of The Jed Foundation, will take place on October 2, 2019, at Union Park Events in New York City.

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