This Is Big, Marisa Meltzer


I read This Is Big, part memoir of the author’s struggle with her size, part biography of Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch, for what turned out to be a very personal piece for The i Paper.

I’ve often wanted to write at length about size and weight and self-esteem and everything these things bring to bear on every other aspect of your life. It’s not something that necessarily troubles me any more. Rather it’s something that has shaped how I react to things now. As far as I’ve concerned I’ve beaten it. I’m in charge. Of course, I still want to be thin. That doesn’t mean I hate myself or that being thin is all that I want. But writing at length about something like this has, for a good while, seemed to me a little trite. What else is there to say? What a small, vain and privileged way to struggle. Meltzer found a way to view all this by bringing us the life of Jean Nidetch. Given the stupid fucking Weight Watchers sessions that characterised so much of my teens and my twenties were invented by Nidetch, you’d think I’d hate her. I don’t. It feels like she wanted to do something helpful for women. There’s nothing wrong with eating well and feeling good about your body. The problem is the way our bodies are used against us to control our minds and our levels of self worth.