What is “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”?
“My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, produced by Pilgrim Studios, premiered in January 2015 on TLC and documents the life of Whitney Way Thore, who went viral thanks to her “Fat Girl Dancing” videos which racked up millions of YouTube views. When the show first aired, Whitney weighed almost 400lbs, over 160kgs, and had been working at a radio station in North Carolina.
The cause behind Whitney’s 230-pound weight gain came from health disorders, including polycystic ovary syndrome. From working on her body image to handling bullying and life’s constant curveballs, Whitney has overcome many negative situations, and earned millions of fans along the way.
Meet The Cast
“Fabulous Life” boasts many vibrant and colorful cast members as well as Whitney – Barbara, Glenn and Hunter Thore, and Whitney’s friends Ashley, Buddy, Todd, Heather and Tal. Whitney isn’t the only person who’s bared her heart on the show; from addiction struggles to fertility journeys, many cast members have exposed the most vulnerable parts of their lives to millions of viewers.
The leading lady herself was born in Greensboro, North Carolina USA, in April 1984. After attending Walter Hines Page Senior High School, she graduated from Appalachian State University, majoring in musical theater. Conflicting online reports have led to confusion regarding her personal life, with particularly salacious sources claiming that she’s married with two children. Nothing could be further from the truth; Whitney has been unlucky in love, but since 2021 has been in a long-distance relationship with an anonymous Frenchman.
In 2016, Whitney became a best-selling author with “I Do It with the Lights On: And 10 More Discoveries on the Road to a Blissfully Shame-Free Life”. The book received glowingly positive reviews and emphasized the importance of loving yourself no matter your size. Some viewers speculated that “Fabulous Life” would end the day Whitney lost drastic amounts of weight: although she’s adopted a somewhat healthier lifestyle and shed 70lbs, about 30kgs since 2019, there are no signs of that happening anytime soon, as she is content with her current body.
Next up is the Thore matriarch, Barbara. Whitney’s mother married her first husband at a young age, and found love a second time after her divorce, this time with Whitney’s father Glenn, since when the pair have been practically inseparable. The reasons behind Barbara’s divorce are a mystery, as she doesn’t like to speak about her past.
In late 2021, Barbara was left bedridden by an unpleasant stroke, and the road to recovery has been long and arduous, but the septuagenarian is lucky to have her family and loved ones watching over her every moment. She is currently staying at the senior living community Irving Park, where she celebrated a fall festival with her daughter in October 2022.
Share your well wishes for the fabulous Babs Thore on her 70th birthday!! Then see her tonight on an all-new My Big Fat Fabulous Life!
Surrounded by loud personalities, Barbara’s husband Glenn is a quiet and studious history and political science buff, who graduated from Guildford College in his native North Carolina. 2021 was a challenging year for the longtime couple, but thankfully they were able to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary in 2022 with a small get-together attended by family and close friends.
Glenn joined the graphics industry in 2003, taking an account manager position working for Graphic Visual Solutions nine years later. In 2011, he joined Millennium Print Group as VP General Manager, and has been working there ever since, with no retirement plans in his near future. Currently in his mid-to-late 70s, Glenn loves spending time outdoors or with his nearest and dearest when not busy at work, or filming for the show.
Hunter, Whitney’s younger brother, is an actor and guitarist searching for his breakthrough role. Although his exact birthday is unknown, Hunter is in his mid-to-late 30s and has a good relationship with his sister, whom he often posts on Instagram and other social media profiles. He currently plays for the metal and hardcore band Plague of Jackals, performing at local venues and small clubs.
Having found Barbara after her stroke, Hunter helped save her life by immediately dialing 911. Unfortunately, he and Whitney argued while discussing what to do with their aging parents in the future; the root of the argument was Hunter’s desire to move to Atlanta – which he has since fulfilled – as this would separate him from Barbara and Glenn and leave Whitney caring for their parents alone.
Since moving to Atlanta, Hunter has been promising fans plenty of new projects which are sure to materialize in 2023. It’s believed that, although his appearances on “Fabulous Life” helped him get a foot in the TV industry, he wants to make his own way without riding the coat-tails of his sister’s success.
Ashley Baynes is one of Whitney’s closest friends, having known her for over a decade. The zesty brunette shares two children named Harper and August Daniel with her boyfriend Eric, who is uninterested in the world of showbiz. Ashley recently made headlines as netizens alleged that she would be a surrogate mother for Whitney.
Whitney’s unassisted pregnancy troubles have been a hot topic on the show for a while, and she’s also asked her friends if they’d be surrogates for her. When viewers of “Fabulous Life” saw Ashley helping the celebrity with her IVF treatments, they assumed she’d said yes. Ashley and Whitney’s other friend, Heather Sykes, initially said yes to being a surrogate, but later changed her mind, which didn’t go down too well with the TV personality.
Buddy Bell is a firm fan favorite thanks to his resilience and tenacity. Viewers have been loving his journey and personal growth, given that Buddy has had a rough few years, coping with drug addictions, rehab stints, and complicated break-ups. In late 2021, Buddy announced his engagement, but hasn’t made clear if he will be appearing on “Fabulous Life” once he ties the knot.
It’s unclear if there is any bad blood between Whitney and Buddy’s girlfriend. The TV star previously griped about not being able to see her best friend as much, once the relationship turned more serious; she received backlash for her comments from viewers of the show who considered her selfish. However, Whitney appears to be fully supportive of Buddy’s engagement and future plans.
Todd Beasley has also known Whitney for decades, and they have plenty in common as he also majored in musical theater. Todd’s attractiveness and good qualities have earned him plenty of fans; he is also one of Whitney’s real friends and is never afraid to tell her what he thinks, even if she might react negatively.
When doctors told Whitney that her health issues and weight would force her to stop dancing for the time being, she turned to Todd for help. Todd – who danced with Whitney in her famous viral videos – faithfully helped her organize and choreograph dance classes. He isn’t a great fan of Whitney’s new boyfriend, which is understandable, as he almost always has to pick up the pieces when the TV personality’s romantic relationships go left.
Heather Sykes is known for being a courageous single mother, who works for Market America as a global director. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina in 2006, and married her now ex-husband, Jared, at just 21 years old.
Heather and Jared’s two children – Ava and Eli – seem to be doing well enough despite their parents’ divorce. Ava is passionate about musicals and school plays, whereas Eli is an honor roll student despite his young age. Heather and Jared often document their family activities, and strive to ensure that their children have as normal an upbringing as possible.
Last but not least, Tal Fish has also struggled with substance abuse in the past. In April 2017, he celebrated two years of sobriety, and has stayed on the straight and narrow ever since. Buddy’s cocaine addiction struggles resonated with Tal, as he is in long-term recovery, and now works in the substance use field.
When not filming for “Fabulous Life”, Tal keeps fans updated with his daily comings and goings. He loves spending a day at the beach, visiting museums, putting in long hours at the gym, and enjoying a night out at the theater. His mother is a big presence on his social media, and was a constant presence in Tal’s life during his journey to recovery.
As mentioned, Whitney has been plagued by bad luck or poor choices when it comes to romantic relationships. In 2018, her unorthodox reaction to her boyfriend’s cheating raised plenty of eyebrows, as she decided to track the other women down and confront them, instead of leaving her boyfriend at the time.
Nada Louis was one of the many women who Whitney’s boyfriend, Avi, was seeing. Whitney had convinced herself that Nada was Avi’s side chick, and had to come to terms with the fact that Nada and Avi were engaged. The news left “Fabulous Life” fans flabbergasted, as Nada and Avi had made marriage plans, and met each other’s families.
In the end, Whitney and Nada struck up a tentative friendship, went on a hiking trip, and did other activities together. Both of them eventually ditched Avi, although Whitney took the split much harder as she was head over heels in love, and had even considered changing religions to marry him.
Before her disastrous relationship with Avi, Whitney’s sentimental woes were already well-documented. In an episode of “Fabulous Life” that aired in February 2017, she discovered that she wasn’t pregnant, despite several positive pregnancy tests, and had to break the news to Lennie Alehat, her ex-boyfriend whom both thought was the father of her child.
About the sad news, Whitney said: “I don’t know how to feel right now – in the moment, I just feel sad.” Despite admitting that she was unprepared to bring a child into the world, Whitney had begun to feel excited about the possibility. However, Lennie himself was absolutely devastated, having already made plans to buy baby clothes and a crib, and gone so far as to share the news with his sister.
Back to the present day, Whitney and the Frenchman’s relationship has been called into question, as she recently hired Lennie to work with her on an important project. Lennie and Whitney’s chemistry and flirtatious years-long friendship has given viewers hope that they’ll rekindle things – and taking into account Whitney and her boyfriend’s open relationship policy, who knows what the future has in store for the former couple?
— TLC Network (@TLC) October 27, 2021
Scandals and Controversy
Although Whitney has many good traits, she is a highly polarizing figure in the reality TV landscape, and has been criticized by fans in many instances for her behavior or reaction to certain situations. Until now, most of her scandals have been linked to outlandish show storylines that the public believe were faked just for viewers.
In May 2020, Whitney announced that her engagement with Chase Severino had ended as he’d got another woman pregnant. Her Instagram post was written in an unemotional and laidback manner, and fans immediately began suspecting that the engagement was never real. The rumors gained traction when a Reddit user claimed to have been seated on the same flight as Whitney and Chase, after they announced their engagement news.
The Reddit user, /u/midgeless, wrote: “I was on the flight back from Paris after their supposed ‘engagement trip’… they boarded the plane separately, and Whitney sat in first class while Chase sat in coach. They didn’t meet one another when we deplaned, and got their baggage separately”. /u/midgeless added that when they asked Whitney for a photo at the airport, Chase was nowhere to be seen, and Whitney was with another man. To verify her claims, /u/midgeless uploaded the photo she and Whitney took.
Conspiracy theorists were instantly on the trail. Some speculated that Chase had been in a separate relationship all along, and only dropped the charade when his real-life girlfriend became pregnant. The backlash grew so intense that Whitney and Chase had to limit their Instagram comments for a time.
Of course, there are those who believe that almost everything on the show is fake, not just Whitney’s relationships. As one Reddit user so eloquently stated: “Fake medical advice! Fake dieting! Fake diseases! Fake injuries! Fake morbid obesity! Fake friends! Fake websites! Humiliation is entertainment! Said no one ever.”
Real or fake, Whitney and the crew’s shenanigans have entertained millions of viewers for years. The show is one of TLC’s most successful offerings, and there are no signs of it being cancelled or shelved anytime soon.