My Fat Girl Soulmate Whitney Thore was on the Today show last week, talking about her “A Fat Girl Dancing” videos. Overall, I think the appearance was a net-win for body-positivity activism, but I definitely had problems with the segment.
First of all, they didn’t have Whitney actually dance on the show. They showed brief clips of the videos, with two comments: “shaking it” and “she’s got the moves”. The rest of the interview wasn’t about her dancing at all. The website article did link to an in-studio clip of Whitney dancing via the Today Show Instagram account, but it was very short.
My second gripe was how the interviewers described her before she gained weight, saying “you were obviously very athletic”. Guess what, gals? She’s STILL obviously very athletic.
Thirdly, we have my biggest frustration: the concern trolling.
WW: “My co-worker Jared picked [the video] and he said, you know what, Whitney? Fat girls are popular on the internet and dancing is popular and good music is popular. Put that all together and go do your thing. Then I started to embrace it and I think it is really important for me. I like being called fat. I don’t like it when people say, oh, you’re just curvy or fluffy. Let’s call a spade a spade. There is a lot going on here and it is fat. I like to juxtapose that word with these videos because I think I’m breaking down some stereotypes and the stigma that is placed on fat people because I’m being active and happy and I’m dancing and I think I’m talented. And I’m fat, too.”
TS: “You’re all those things. Do you think you’re healthy? Are you convinced that at this weight you’re still as healthy as you should be?” (emphasis added by author)
WW: “No. Luckily for me, I’ve never had high blood pressure , not high cholesterol , nothing like that. I’m very active. But if I stay this weight, for sure, I’m going to develop health problems.”
TS: “What’s your plan?”
WW: “My plan is to lose 100 pounds, which I already did once, but I gained it back.”
And thusly, dear readers, this interview was highjacked by the Health Concern Troll. What was supposed to be a piece on body positivity, self-love, and self-expression, became a curiosity on whether the health problems associated with obesity negated the message of body positivity.
I love Whitney Thore and all that she is doing. I can’t legitimately expect the Today Show to stride confidently into the realm of EQUALITY FOR ALL. I just resent the casual dismissal of Whitney’s message. If you also feel angry, or want to support Whitney…
Tweet the @TODAYshow and let them know what you think, OR
Tweet @WhitneyWay and let her know you support her message.