Whitney Way Thore Considered Quitting TV Due to Relentless Bullying [Exclusive]

Whitney Way Thore is no stranger to fielding unsolicited comments on her weight, her personal relationships, and her family. But in recent years, those comments have taken on a particularly vicious tone, with attacks even occasionally spilling over into the real world. 

In the season 12 premiere of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life, Thore is left shaken when someone eggs her house and leaves a brutal note on her doorstep. It’s not the first time she’s been targeted in real life, but it was the first time the show’s cameras were there to capture the incident and its aftermath. 

“That’s the first time something like that’s happened on TV,” Thore told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “But, it’s actually not the first time things like this have happened to me while we weren’t in production. I’ve had bricks thrown through car windows, people break into my parents’ house. I was on a hit list – the FBI got involved. … It’s absolutely terrifying.” 

Whitney Way Thore considered quitting TV because of online bullying 

Whitney Way Thore looking at pictures on Lennie's phone in 'My Big Fat Fabulous Life' Season 12 premiere
Whitney Way Thore and her friend Lennie in ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’ Season 12 | TLC

The egging incident was a real-life manifestation of the increasingly cruel bullying Thore has been experiencing in recent years. The masked individual captured in the My Big Fat Fabulous Life season premiere left a card referencing Thore’s late mother Barbara “Babs” Thore, who died in December 2022. She said it’s become more common for people to try to use her relationship with her mom as “ammunition” in their attacks. 

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years now,” she said. “So I’ve read everything you can possibly imagine that people say about me or to me or whatever. But when my mom died, I started getting, all the comments [like], ‘Your mother hated you. Your mother was so embarrassed by you. What would your mother think of this or that or whatever?’ And that actually shocked me. It shocked me to my core.”

The bullying, which intensified last year as season 11 was airing, nearly pushed Thore over the edge. 

For a time there I was close to suicidal over it,” she said, choking up. “And I didn’t think I was going to do any more TV.” 

“It is so overwhelming and disheartening to know how crazy, and awful people are,” she added.

The ‘My Big Fat Fabulous Life’ star has a ‘wonderful support system’ 

Thore has come through some of her darkest days thanks to a “wonderful support system,” she said. But there’s no getting used to the relentless criticism and cruelty. And the common advice to just ignore the trolls isn’t helpful. 

“They’re not just trolls,” she said. “They’re human beings with hands that are typing these things.”

I’m doing much better now, but, you don’t get used to it, and I think it only gets worse with time,” she added. “Or the more exposure you have, the worse it gets. And, it’s just terrifying. I don’t think anyone should get used to it or get over it.”

Thore said she does her best to restrict and block people on Instagram. But it’s impossible to completely avoid seeing bullying comments, especially because she wants to continue using social media to connect with genuine fans. Her therapist has urged her to share her experiences with others who are in a similar situation, but Thore said that’s tough to do. 

“I’m not friends with any other, like, reality TV stars,” she said. “I just try to kind of stay in my real life, and just remember that I have real people in my real life, and I have real things that are important to me.”

Whitney Way Thore urges people to remember that their ‘words have meaning’

As for the keyboard warriors who don’t hesitate to share hurtful comments online, Thore has a message.

“I would just urge people to remember that your words have meaning … it’s such a simple litmus test,” she said. “It’s like, if you wouldn’t go up to someone in person and just say it, don’t say it online.”

Even seemingly innocuous comments can pile up, Thore added. She suspects the general thoughtlessness stems from people not viewing those they interact with online as real people. 

“It’s dehumanizing … I think people need to remember that they’re that we’re real people,” she said. “And that their words matter.”

My Big Fat Fabulous Life premieres Tuesday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on TLC.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

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