biography / food / history / memoir / nonfiction / review

This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World by Marisa Meltzer


This Is Big: How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World is sort of a memoir hybrid with Meltzer exploring the history of Weight Watchers though the lens of her lifelong battle with her weight.

While she is very honest about how much she doesn’t like her body, the negative attention it attracts, her eating habits and her many attempts at weight loss she does gloss over quite a few events and issues in her life that I felt could have been explored.

I’m not sure if the mash up of autobiography of Jean Nidetch and Meltzer’s own story was the best idea. Both were interesting but since Meltzer didn’t delve into what I feel was some real obvious points of interest in her own life and didn’t seem to talk to first person sources of Nidetch’s, the book seemed a little hollow to me. I would have liked to have known more about Nidetch’s decision to step down from head of Weight Watchers rather than speculation and I would have liked a more honest look at Meltzer’s issues around eating, her hardcore drug use as a child and her family. I felt like she invited us in but only opened the door a crack. Perhaps she should have just kept it at regaling us with stories of the glamorous thin people she interviewed or her own recent Weight Watchers experiences if she didn’t really want to get into details.

That said, I did enjoy the book. She is an engaging writer and I learned a lot of about Jean Nidetch who was a real unsung trailblazer. I wish the editor had taken a firmer hand and directed the narrative a bit more in either direction. I didn’t feel the book needed to end with the author skinny and married and didn’t expect it to but I did expect a little more exploration into her own life and relationship with food that was only touched on shallowly.

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