Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Television Tuesday--My Big Fat Fabulous Life

NEWEST UPDATE: I have reviewed the earlier episodes of season 2 here.

UPDATE ALERT: See my newest thoughts on the show here.

Reality television, especially the kind found on TLC, was my guilty pleasure of 2014. It may very well end-up being my guilty pleasure of 2015 if the start of this new year is any indication with shows such as "My Big Fat Fabulous Life" now getting my viewership.

"BFFL", as I will call it from now on because it is easier to type and if you say it out loud it sounds fun (kind of like, "Biffel"), is a show about a woman named Whitney Thore (check her website out here), along with her parents and friends. Whitney gained some attention when a video she posted of herself dancing went viral about a year ago, and she is currently working at making more videos, finding a man to fall in love with, and the like.
Whitney and her friend practicing a new dance routine.
"Tons of people make videos of themselves dancing, what made her clip so special?" you may be asking. Well, Whitney is a large woman and proud of it, or as she puts it, "I'm a fat-ass, but I'm also a bad-ass." Whitney's video of, "A fat girl dancing," got attention because many people liked to see a woman who was comfortable with her body doing something that it is sometimes thought only skinny people would do--namely dancing super-intensely.

Whitney is okay with the fact she is large, but does want to lose weight for health reasons, and it is at this point we arrive to a plot element that makes Whitney a bit different from the usual large person. You see, Whitney has polycystic ovary syndrome, an endocrine disorder which can increase the testosterone in her body and causes many women with it to gain immense weight. This resulted in Whitney gaining hundreds of pounds during college and being unsure what the problem was until recently, where we now see her okay with her body but still wanting to lose weight and be healthier.
The fact Whitney has PCOS makes me think TLC is kind of getting to have its cake and eat it too. They get to have a show about a large woman who talks about how she loves her body despite people judging her, but have the caveat of, "Oh, but she didn't get large like most people." Basically, TLC gets to not anger those who support large people with a show that says, "Love your weight," but also keep health-nuts pleased with the message, "It's okay to lose weight too, and again, don't get mad at us because she has a medical reason for the weight also."

A part of me just feels like TLC should own the message of, "Bigger is better," or "Losing weight is good," instead of trying to have it both ways, but that has nothing to do with Whitney or her journeys through life as much as it has to do with TLC. Putting aside the question of TLC's motivations with the show it is worth discussing how it is.
Whitney's parents are quite fun.
"BFFL" is a perfectly enjoyable program. Whitney is funny, open about her body, not afraid to discuss her sexuality (something I admire as it sometimes seems the media wants to ignore that fat people have sex, instead only focusing on the sexuality of skinny folk), and seems like a legitimately nice person you would enjoy being around--unlike some people on reality shows whom you want to shake some sense into. Whitney's mother, Babs, is absolutely hilarious and her father, Glenn, is nice too. She has a brother named Hunter also, but his screen time was so minimal in the first episode I don't really have a feel for him.

We see other folks pop-up on the show too, from her dancing-partner to a male friend who may grow into more than a friend if previews of what this season holds are any indication. It is basically just your regular reality show following someone going about their life, with one of the "hooks" being how Whitney is a larger woman, and the other "hook" arguably being how she is quite the skilled dancer and working to possibly make a career out of it. It would be somewhat unremarkable were it not for two elements...

One thing is that Whitney is in fact a really, really good dancer regardless of her weight, and her routines are quite impressive to watch. The second element is that Whitney really is quite fun and easy-to-like, something it seems too many reality shows lack with us hating the main characters (I don't know about you, but anytime I see a Kardashian on my television screen I want to vomit in rage and agony).

Having only viewed one episode of "BFFL" so far, and keeping in mind my post about how you should never too quickly judge a show based on its pilot or early episodes, I am cautiously optimistic that this might be a program I enjoy watching. Putting aside any questions of what TLC is trying to say with the show or get out of it publicity-wise, "BFFL" is good fun, thanks to the fact that Whitney is such an enjoyable person. Were Whitney less of a delight this show would easily be a clunker, but she makes it incredibly fun even during the more dull moments. With that in mind, I can say that terms of sheer enjoyment the first episode is easily...

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Now it just remains to be seen if future installments of the show can continue the trend, with the second episode airing tonight on TLC at 10PM Eastern, 9PM Central.


  1. I know she's happy with that but still concern about her health,hope she realize that she needs to lose weight so bad..

  2. Thanks for the comment! I think she knows it is important to lose weight as on the show she often discusses how she doesn't mind being big, but doesn't want to be so big it poses a danger to her health.

  3. I watched the first episode and thought to myself that this girl is about to explode. Either by the fact that she is morbidly overweight and dancing way to hard.... (afraid of her having a heart attack ) Why is she eating pizza? Also she seems to be hyper all the time. From what I have seen so far. ...and it is obvious that she doesn't have any money problems. If I was in her shoes at her age I would have a stomach reduction operation right away, eat healthy and keep dancing. This show is ridiculous!

    1. Amen to that. I was obese up until I was 47 years old. Always losing and gaining. Was 320 at my fattest. 5 years ago I finally dealt with it. Lost almost 200 pounds. Eating right and exercising. Being fat is horrible. I hate the show. I think Whitney Thore is delusional.

  4. She is working out and I think she has some funds but not a ton as she has moved back-in with her folks. She is indeed hyper, I think she has a peppy personality! I think she doesn't want to do surgery as she hopes to lose weight naturally, and with her PCOS that could complicate any surgery. Thank you for your comment, do you plan to keep watching the show even if you think its kind of ridiculous?

  5. First of all, she may not be a candidate for bariatric surgery (although I wonder why her doctor hasn't suggested removing her ovaries, which would take care of the PCOD). However, surgery for someone that size is a risk. Second of all, I feel sorry for the nitwits who write nasty notes to her and about her because all they see is fat. If "fat" were all there was to her, she wouldn't be on TV. Nobody slides by on that image alone. I wish they could look beyond her physique and value the human being. The body is the wrapping; the person inside is the gift. Whitney is witty, a good sport, has a beautiful face, a great upbeat attitude and the guts to go into the world and do what she wants to do instead of sitting on her butt eating junk food all day and feeling sorry for herself. It's admirable that she has an exercise regimen. I'm sure the nasty remarks hurt her, but they aren't stopping her. She's right: She has only one life and she's "damn sure it's going to count."

  6. The people who wrote mean notes were quite hurtful and agree they are nitwits. I think she hasn't had her ovaries removed as she wants to be able to have children someday (I'm not sure, just guessing)? I like how she is very upbeat and energetic too. Thanks for the comment!

  7. I love the show...watching it now and decided to check out the reviews. I really cracked up laughing at Whitney's lack of seriousness during Gorgi's Memorial. It was so funny.
    I like that Whitney is "real" and likes herself. I am sick of women , in particular, trying to conform to the body image that society has set for them. I am not big, but seldom happy with how I look. We could all learn from Whitney about self image and the importance of accepting and liking ourselves. I like the show because it is honest, Whitney is honest and funny and talented and beautiful. I encourage my family and friends to watch it as well. We have young girls literally starving themselves to death because they have been brainwashed into believing that unless they are thin/skinny - which includes having a space/gap between their thighs- they will not be successful or happy. Whitney is tearing that perception to shreds. You go girl!

  8. I think she's awesome! She's so upbeat and confident; she seems like so much fun to be around. She's very active for her size too. But, like others have said, it is a huge health risk to be that overweight. She absolutely would qualify for bariatric surgery; she is more than 200 lbs overweight. The surgery poses risks; but not as big a risk as staying morbidly obese.
    I have pcos as well, and a full hysterectomy, as someone recommended, is not a solution. That would put her into early menopause, and make losing weight even more difficult. Hormone replacement and Metformin are common treatments, as well as diet and exercise. It's what I refer to as a "Wheel of WTF" - the pcos caused her to gain weight, however, losing weight would help to regulate her pcos.
    I hope Whitney finds a way to live a long, healthy life; and continues to break societies size barrier! :)

  9. Denise, I like that Whitney is "real" too, and her personality is the main reason I enjoy watching the show.

    Jess, thank you for the information about PCOS and why a hysterectomy or such would be a bad choice, that is very interesting and explains a lot. I like your "Wheel of WTF" term, that is very clever!

    As always, thanks to you both for your comments!

  10. This show is full of inaccuracies. Whitney and her audience need to research PCOS ASAP!!!!!

  11. Love the show, love Whitney and love her family. She has the best attitude for someone afflicted with a disease that is invisible but makes her highly visible. I wish her the best in her quest for health and happiness.

  12. She is beautiful, funny, smart, and a talented dancer. I love her show, and her mom is a hoot.

  13. Skilled dancer? She can barely move, so we cannot say she is skilled. I can do what she does too.

  14. Her laugh is obnoxious. It's horrible. Fake. And she eats crap. Her friend pulled up along side her car where she had a gallon of ice cream!!!! Not a cone!!! Who is fooling who? Note she wants a campaign to justify her size. Let her be fat, but she will shorten her life. By then she'll be forgotten. Body shaming isn't cool but neither is being delusional.

  15. Her laugh is obnoxious. It's horrible. Fake. And she eats crap. Her friend pulled up along side her car where she had a gallon of ice cream!!!! Not a cone!!! Who is fooling who? Note she wants a campaign to justify her size. Let her be fat, but she will shorten her life. By then she'll be forgotten. Body shaming isn't cool but neither is being delusional.

  16. So I take it you don't know what a really good dancer looks like then? Dance is the art of stylised and rhythmic MOVEMENT performed to music. One cannot move properly, let alone well (have full range and freedom of movement in all positions) when morbidly obese. This is a fact. The reduced standards of low expectations and the general inability to assess the difference in standards is astounding and worrying. Seriously take five minutes to look up high level proponents of just about any style and if you can't tell the difference between that and how that land-whale moves then there's no hope for you....

  17. I cringe for her. She is not fat. She is now dangerously obese. She is not just peppy but hyper. She tries very hard to convince people that she likes being fat. What is there to like about diabetes, being unable to get yourself off the ground without help. she is well past the point of dancing without risking her health and safety further, She connects obesity with her identity. Losing weight apparently will take away from who she is as she puts it. This is no different than an anorexic whose sense of self is tied to their thinness. This young woman needs therapy and not a reality show. If she continues on this path her next stop will be the hospital on my 600 pound life. Her parents appear to be too indulging. Her boyfriend is freakish with his phony beard/disguise. For her sake and longevity I hope she gets the therapy and support she needs to restore and preserve her physical and mental health.

  18. She is cute and nice family , friends,etc. But getting rich for being FAT....no reason for that. U can be chubby but this reality show needs to stop until she changed her attitude. Now...into pregnancy test,etc. Geez...give us something better to watch...