It's time for Mama June to seize the moment.
In the March 31 episode of WE tv's Mama June: From Not to Hot, viewers saw the results of her weight loss journey. Through diet, exercise and surgery, June went from a size 18 to a size 4 in about 13 months. "I've worked my ass off working out, getting healthy," she said on the show. "Now I feel like becoming the person on the outside that I always felt like on the inside."
Months after she was fitted for a gastric sleeve, June underwent surgery to remove excess skin from her arms, back, neck and stomach. Before her final surgery, the 37-year-old reality star—famous for her unhealthy eating habits—joked she might not be the same woman when it was over. "I'm kind of going to miss my turkey neck," she said. "It's more famous than I am!"
Fame is fleeting, as June well knows. After all, her Georgia-based family first found fame via an episode of TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras in 2012. (The series introduced viewers to "Go-Go Juice," a concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull mixed in a bottle and chugged before pageant time.) A spinoff, titled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, followed months later and aired for two years. (It, too, highlighted the family's unhealthy diet—like "sketti," pasta covered in butter and ketchup.)
June's reality TV rise was always rooted in controversy. When the harmful effects of "Go-Go Juice" were mentioned during a Good Moring America interview in 2012, she defended her 6-year-old daughter Alana Thompson's diet. "There are far worse things," June said. "I could be giving her alcohol." She maintained that Alana, the youngest of four girls, was healthy. "She's not skinny, but whether skinny or fat, I am still going to love my children regardless," she told ABC's Andrea Canning. "I could care less if they get up to 1,000 lbs.; I'm still gonna love them."
Viewers fell in love with the family, too—until they didn't. Marred by controversy, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo came to an end after four seasons in 2014. Soon after, Vivid Entertainment's Steven Hirsch offered June and Sugar Bear $1 million to star in a pornographic film; they both declined. Two months later, June appeared on The Doctors to stage a weight loss intervention for Alana, who weighed 125 lbs.; the 9-year-old was asked to lose between 12 lbs. and 25 lbs.
In the years that followed, the family made occasional talk show appearances and kept their fans up to date via social media—and it appeared as if their reality run was over. It wasn't until Sugar Bear proposed to Jennifer Lamb that June's manager, Gina Rodriguez, hatched a plan to put the family back into the limelight. For over a year, cameras followed June as she worked on her "revenge body," with plans to reveal her physical transformation during her ex's wedding.
Mama June: From Not to Hot debuted Feb. 24 with the episode "Thin-Tervention." The show became a ratings smash for the network, and June—who once tipped the scales at 460 lbs.—showed viewers everything, no matter the pain. During the course of her transformation, she also got breast augmentation surgery and a new set of veneers. "She looks like Marilyn Monroe," Alana said after seeing her mom's makeover. But, to June's surprise, the changes were far more than superficial. "My goal when I first started this weight loss journey was to make Sugar Bear kind of jealous. But it's no longer about revenge," June said in the March 31 episode. "Doing all the surgeries really took a toll on me—not just physically, but emotionally."
So, where does June go from here?
First, June will detail her weight loss journey in the Apr. 17 issue of People (on newsstands Friday). And now that viewers have seen June's before-and-after body transformation, she's finally free to leave the house without having to hide herself form the pesky, prying paparazzi.
It seems unlikely she'll become the face of a diet program, as Oprah Winfrey is for Weight Watchers. And it seems even less likely that she'll launch her own health and wellness empire, as Jane Fonda did in the early 1980s. June's bread and butter (pardon the pun) is reality TV, so the odds of her appearing on another show—like Dancing With the Stars—are far greater than the alternatives. Or, given that she went on a handful of blind dates on WE tv's From Not to Hot, perhaps she'll star in her own series about finding love as she learns to love her new body.
No matter what June decides to do next, she'll have the support of her girls.
"I'm really proud of her," Alana said in the March 31 episode. "She looks great."
As June herself tweeted that night, "...I'm so proud of where I came from."
The season finale of Mama June: From Not to Hot airs Friday at 9 p.m. on WE tv.