'Fat Girl Dancing' Videos Aim to Dispel Women's Body Shame

Viral dance videos show girls can dance no matter their size, says creator.

Feb. 7, 2014— -- A North Carolina radio producer's dance moves are shaking up the Internet and inspiring other women to cast off their own body shame.

Whitney Thore's "Fat Girl Dancing" videos on YouTube have gone viral since the 29-year-old first began posting them as part of her "No Body Shame Campaign" -- which she hopes will embolden other women to shed their own body image issues.

"I've struggled with body image and eating disorders my entire life, even though I used to be 120 pounds," said Thore. "I wanted to break down the stereotypes that fat people aren't talented and fat people aren't active and fat people can't do anything and aren't sexy."

Thore, an on-air producer for 107.5 KZL in Greensboro, N.C., started dancing when she was 4 and even began teaching at Greensboro Dance Theatre by the tender age of 16.

But when she suddenly gained 200 pounds in two years during college as a result of her polycystic ovarian syndrome, Thore dropped out of dance class and moved to Korea to teach English.

"My life literally changed overnight, I saw the way people treated me differently," Thore said. "For so long I abandoned it because I thought I didn't deserve to dance."

But even away from home, Thore couldn't escape issues surrounding body image, and found herself struggling in a different culture that was as equally image-centered.

"I got spit on, assaulted, called a pig," she remembers. "It was difficult, but I also had some of the best experiences of my life there and loved my job."

It took a while, but upon her return to the U.S. four years later, Thore slowly began dancing again socially.

"I knew I had to learn to be happy regardless of what I look like," she said. "Since then, I've been on this whirlwind love affair with me. I view the whole world differently."

She's now aiming to share that love, by spreading her message of acceptance to others by starting the No Body Shame Campaign. The Fat Girl Dancing videos are a big part of that, and the feedback has been overwhelming, she says.

"I've received thousands of messages all over the world," Thor said, slightly breathless. "Every minute more come in. I've gotten messages from young women, old women, me, disabled people, lots of people dealing with body issues, saying 'You changed my life'."