This Is Big

How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World -- and Me


By Marisa Meltzer

Formats and Prices




$3.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 14, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

From a contributor to The Cut, one of Vogue's most anticipated books "bravely and honestly" (Busy Philipps) talks about weight loss and sheds a light on Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch: "a triumphant chronicle" (New York Times).

Marisa Meltzer began her first diet at the age of five. Growing up an indoors-loving child in Northern California, she learned from an early age that weight was the one part of her life she could neither change nor even really understand.

Fast forward nearly four decades. Marisa, also a contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times, comes across an obituary for Jean Nidetch, the Queens, New York housewife who founded Weight Watchers in 1963. Weaving Jean's incredible story as weight loss maven and pathbreaking entrepreneur with Marisa's own journey through Weight Watchers, she chronicles the deep parallels, and enduring frustrations, in each woman's decades-long efforts to lose weight and keep it off. The result is funny, unexpected, and unforgettable: a testament to how transformation goes far beyond a number on the scale.


Author’s Note

I wish that I had gotten a chance to meet Jean Nidetch. Her slim autobiography, The Jean Nidetch Story, was a starting point and an introduction to her inimitable voice. Luckily, Jean had been enough of a media star in her day that she’d left interviews, profiles, and television appearances to review and to quote from. I talked to people who knew Jean both personally and professionally, plus I spoke with historians, critics, and writers of her era and ours. I read issues of Weight Watchers magazine in sequence, spent days reading vintage cookbooks, made my way through archives, and bid on Jean-related memorabilia (including handwritten cards and a vinyl recording of her advice) on eBay. I found as much information as I could about her and drew my conclusions about her life from that research.

Some of Jean’s many colorful anecdotes proved to be inaccurate or conflicting, whether because she was a fabulist or maybe because she just didn’t have the best memory. For example, she told the story of the woman in the grocery store mistaking her for pregnant many times—sometimes it took place in September, sometimes October. In her autobiography, which she wrote in her mid-eighties, she recalled the Jessica Mitford article coming out in the early 1980s. I found it in Mitford’s own archive; it was published in 1967. I never did find where she originally said, “It’s choice, not chance, that determines your destiny.” If I could verify a story from outside accounts, I did; otherwise I went with the version that seemed the most accurate from my research.

I was not reporting this book undercover. The company knew I was working on a book about Weight Watchers and cooperated with my research, as did group leaders and some members. But everyone deserves privacy—especially in the ups and downs of dieting—so I have changed several names, and some characters in the book are composites. A few passages have appeared previously in other publications, and timelines have been condensed or shifted.


It’s choice, not chance, that determines your destiny.

—Jean Nidetch

Jean Nidetch woke up one morning in September 1961 feeling sylphlike. “Did you know you could weigh two hundred and fourteen pounds and have a thin day?” she would later ask crowds who came to see her speak.

She put on a muumuu, a dress she considered a fat woman’s boon because it hung nicely over everything and in the pockets she could squirrel away pistachios. The tag on the dress read size 10. In reality, Jean wore a size 44—roughly equivalent to a 20 in modern vanity sizing—but she’d had a seamstress remove the tags from her clothing and replace them with smaller, more cheering sizes. Her driver’s license weight was 145 pounds, which she hadn’t been since before high school. But nobody weighed you at the DMV.

Jean tied a ribbon in her hair. She walked through Little Neck to the supermarket, where she passed rows of Quisp cereal and stocked up on graham crackers for her young sons. She lingered in the sweets aisle, filling her cart with bright yellow boxes of the delicious, pillowy chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies called Mallomars. These were what she called her Frankenstein, a favorite treat and nemesis and the real reason she’d come to the store. She’d taken to hiding them in the hamper in her bathroom; she would sneak in, lock the door, and consume three satisfying boxes at a time. She tried to make a joke out of it: “One cookie plus one cookie equals eleven.” Afterward, she always promised herself she’d quit Mallomars, but her resolve never lasted more than a few days.

That September morning Jean found herself back at the supermarket, stocking up once again. She would simply tell the checker the boxes of cookies were for her children. It was a cycle that she thought she’d never break. Being fat was just unlucky, and despite that, Jean felt like she had done well. She was thirty-eight years old, happily married to a nice husband who drove a bus and who was fatter than she was, which meant she could still feel small and ladylike. She had two healthy sons, ages five and ten. What more could Jean Nidetch of Queens, New York, in 1961 reasonably ask for?

Then Jean spotted a woman she’d met on occasion in the neighborhood, standing over by the cantaloupes. She hadn’t especially liked her when they’d been introduced, but Jean was a good housewife and a purposely outgoing person. She figured that if she was going to be fat, at least she had to be friendly to make up for it.

“Jean, you look so wonderful,” the woman told her. “Did you have a good summer?” Jean, flattered, answered that she had. She thought not of sun and sand but of the concession trucks that made their way along the streets of Little Neck selling ice cream, doughnuts, pizza, and sandwiches, trucks that she’d run to catch up to, something only kids were supposed to do.

“You look so marvelous,” the woman said again, looking her up and down. “When are you due?”

To say that it was a moment that she would never forget is an understatement; it would define and transform the rest of her life. But at the time, Jean, the ultimate chatterbox, was dumbstruck. That woman thought she was pregnant. Eventually, Jean stammered something about how she had to go and made her way home in a hasty retreat.

“What do I do now?” she kept asking herself as she walked the four blocks home. Once she made it back, she stood in front of the full-length mirror behind her bedroom door. It was something she normally tried to avoid. Jean was fine with her reflection in the bathroom mirror—the face, the lipstick, and the hair she could get just right. She’d walk away thinking her eyes were gorgeous. This time, though, she looked hard at her hips and stomach. Bulges. Who was she to be having a thin day?

Later Jean would write, “Most fat people need to be hurt in some way in order to be jolted into taking action and doing something for themselves. Something has got to happen to demoralize you suddenly and completely before you see the light.”

She decided right there in front of the full-length mirror to be grateful to the woman at the supermarket, not because she liked her or would forgive her, but because she’d given Jean what she needed.

Explore book giveaways, sneak peeks, deals, and more.

Tap here to learn more.


Jean Nidetch is dead.

I have the slightly morbid habit of reading the New York Times obituary section every morning, usually while sitting at the wooden kitchen table in my Brooklyn apartment, drinking coffee while my bulldog, Joan, snores at my feet, exhausted from her twenty minutes of walking. An obituary takes someone’s life and compresses it into a neat arc of beginnings, highlights, lowlights, and endings, which is why I enjoy reading them before I go off and make my way through my own work as a writer as well as my life, in both of which I often feel like I’m traveling from one slippery point to an unknown other, lacking coherence or a plan. In obituaries, I have a subconscious wish to see in one illuminating flash how another person figured out her story so I can gain some insight into mine. It was mostly a soothing habit, until the morning I read about Jean.

In late April 2015 the obit headline read, “Jean Nidetch, a Founder of Weight Watchers, Dies at 91.” I must have looked confused—it had not ever occurred to me that an actual person had thought up Weight Watchers. To me, at thirty-eight years old, the ubiquitous weight-loss company had no origin story; it had always just existed.

Existed, I thought, to torment me. Tortured would be a polite way to label my relationship to dieting, which I had pursued my whole life. I can’t even recall how old I was when my parents put me on my first diet. Four? Five? I think I was nine when they signed me up for Weight Watchers. That was what passed for smart parenting in the 1980s. Weight Watchers didn’t last more than a few weeks. And it didn’t work. None of the diets ever did. They still don’t. I am a chronic, classic yo-yo dieter whose weight has risen and fallen so many times that, if charted, it would resemble a city skyline.

But there was Jean Nidetch smiling at me from the home page of the New York Times, with big owl-like glasses and a blond bouffant, holding a piece of cake she clearly had no intention of eating. My first thought was that finally I had a face to put to my misery. Was this the she-devil who’d started it all, the one who made weight loss seem like a fait accompli if only you cared enough about it? I read Jean’s obituary, eager to give myself a target to blame for my own Sisyphean attempts at dieting and all the attendant obsession and frustration. I thought I knew just what the story of her life would be, some variation of a thin woman becomes rich and famous butting into overweight people’s lives, never giving them a moment’s respite from calorie-counting or branded no-fat frozen treats.

But as I read, I didn’t see a villain in Jean Nidetch; I saw myself. Here was a woman who also had spent a lifetime thinking about her weight. Jean had been a chubby kid who turned into a fat adult, a woman who wrestled with a raging sweet tooth and whose preferred method of consumption was not enjoying a slice of fancy cake with friends but rather inhaling an entire package of her favorite supermarket cookies in the privacy of her own bathroom. Jean and I were both five foot seven, Jewish, blond (hers by bottle, mine by birth), and residents of Brooklyn (hers by birth, mine by adoption). When I look at old photos of her before she lost the weight, the physical resemblance between us is so strong, she could easily be my aunt or cousin; she could almost be me somehow transported back in time to New York City in 1961.

I realized that I was the same age as Jean was when she’d begun to lose the weight and transform her life beyond her own—and anyone else’s—wildest expectations. Her rock-bottom moment was when someone mistakenly assumed she was pregnant. Dozens of people have mistakenly assumed I was pregnant—at the airport, on the subway, at restaurants as I sat next to my own thin mother. One woman at the department store Barneys wouldn’t even take no for an answer. “You must be at least postpartum,” she said and stared at my abdomen. I blushed, shook my head, and tried to look busy browsing scarves. I made a mental note never to wear the gray hoodie I had on again.

Jean also sounded so human, a woman who’d struggled with love and age and work and family and her place in the world. So instead of delighting in the demise of a newfound nemesis, by the time I finished reading the abbreviated version of Jean Nidetch’s life, I felt a moment of connection between us.


My job as a journalist who writes a lot about the world of beauty and wellness and fitness entails sampling treatments and sometimes spending time with famous people. It’s a life that I’ve worked hard for and I love being part of the glittery landscape of New York. I also feel like I live in a world of thin people. I know their habits but I’m also aware that I am not one of them. The irony that I professionally subject my body to the advice of others is not lost on me. I know that part of what makes me good at writing about these procedures is the fact that I am not a swanlike woman with an absence of cellulite and the gift of natural athletic ability. What I don’t get to share publicly is my occasional ambivalence, that sometimes I feel low talking to gurus who promise that their rainbow-based diet will solve my weight problems or trainers who tell me they’re just dying to get me on a cardio program.

I have never had a healthy relationship with food. Given the tender age at which I started dieting, I probably never had the chance to form one.

Once, I went to a photo shoot to meet the actress Emily Blunt for a British Vogue cover story I was writing. She was getting her hair and makeup done, so I was killing time before we were introduced, wandering around the location, a massive nineteenth-century industrial building in Long Island City that had been turned into a lush venue teeming with ivy on its brick walls that you could rent for weddings and the like. I set my bag on a green velvet sofa and eventually made my way to a table strewn with the remnants of a catered lunch: quinoa salad, grilled chicken, iced tea, and a plate of dairy-free, flourless brownies sitting next to a bouquet of flowers. I sat down and ate one brownie after another, the way I always eat things—the way Jean probably once ate things—without savoring them, as if the act of eating needed to be gotten over with as quickly as possible. With no dairy or flour, the brownies were almost healthy, I figured. A bearded photography assistant wandered inside to get a cable while I was stuffing my face. I turned my back to him, as if that would hide my crime of appetite.

The shoot was just a few weeks after Blunt had given birth to her second daughter—“my Bean,” she called her in her lilting accent—and I’m so nosy that I’d snuck first thing into the wardrobe area of the shoot to see what size jeans she currently wore: 26. Which is about a size 2.

Emily Blunt finally came down the stairs from hair and makeup, trailed by a baby nurse carrying a tiny infant. Blunt smiled graciously and gestured toward the brownies. “You really must try one,” she said to me and the nurse, adding that the brownies were just so good, so rich, that she was satisfied with just one small bite and in fact could not possibly eat more; that’s how rich they were. Was this how normal people’s brains reacted to food—one nibble and you were satisfied? I had eaten perhaps four brownies in the span of less than five minutes and stuffed another half a dozen in my bag to devour at home, alone. (I’d also taken a few sad-looking pieces of cold chicken for the dog.) When I’d heard Blunt coming down the stairs, there was just enough time to rearrange the remaining brownies on the plate so it didn’t look like a troop of ravenous Girl Scouts had been at them. I was privately embarrassed by my behavior and jealous of Blunt at the same time. Maybe that’s how you maintain a size 26, even postpartum, only eating one small bite of one brownie when confronted with a plate of them. I know now what Jean would say: “Not eating the hot fudge sundae has to be more important than eating the largest, richest hot fudge sundae in the world.”

For the past several years I have felt trapped between dieting my way to a slimmer body and simply giving up and trying to love myself as is, caught between change and acceptance. But no matter how unattainable perfection may be, working toward it—as opposed to working toward self-acceptance—is satisfying in its own way. There’s action involved in inching closer to a goal, even one you can’t attain—counting calories, working out, weighing in. At least you’re aiming for something tangible. I would like to feel better in my body. I would like to be able to climb subway stairs fast without feeling out of breath; I would like to be able to see a picture of myself and not have it ruin my day; I would like to have a much less emotional relationship with food. But at the same time, am I a fool for still, after all these yo-yo years, wanting to lose and keep off weight when I know that, statistically, it’s rare?

Jean Nidetch was a woman who succeeded where I—and millions—had failed. She lost seventy-plus pounds and kept them off, then she founded a company and became a mogul, and all of this was over fifty years ago, when help-wanted ads were still divided by gender. She basically earned the American dream. On that same spring day I read Jean’s obituary, I took out my journal—I’ve kept one since I was a teenager—and wrote down a list of questions I wished I could ask her, questions whose answers might help me with my own life. How had she succeeded while others struggled? What made her so different from other housewives? What did it really take to change—effort or luck or the support of people around her? Sheer determination? What did it feel like to transform?

In the days and weeks after I read that obituary, I couldn’t stop thinking about Jean. Jean wasn’t there to answer my questions, of course, and the internet yielded surprisingly little about a woman who had accomplished so much. I began to wonder if I could find the answers another way. I’m a journalist. So what if an assignment editor wasn’t pushing me to write about Jean? What if I assigned Jean to myself?

Jean’s life and mine were very different. I’m not a frustrated housewife with two young sons. Rather, I’m the kind of person who makes watercolors of sunsets in the summer while drinking cocktails on my roof, who reads a book a week and goes to French movies. My friends often cite my life as being an inspiration to them, and I have quite rigorously assembled something that looks really good from the outside. But that performance has always been a stark contrast to how I feel about myself. I had a gut feeling that Jean Nidetch knew all about that soul-killing mismatch.

I’ve never been afraid to go all in for my assignments. I’ve been to all-women camps where a group would chant “Man on land” just to let you know men had come to clean the outhouses; I’ve had a shaman tell me I was a lake in a former life (and then tell me a spirit told him I should lose weight); I’ve let near strangers lead me off-trail hiking through the redwoods. I am brave, and I am dedicated, and I decided I was going to join Weight Watchers for real. With a good attitude. I admit I had long dismissed Weight Watchers as the most retro, basic, lowest-common-denominator, least chic diet company in the world. But it worked for Jean, and if I wanted to find a way out of this constant struggle and understand a woman who conquered weight for herself and others, why not? I was constantly on a diet, so why not that diet? Plus I hadn’t ever been on one single diet for a whole year before. I didn’t think I would lose seventy pounds like Jean did, although I had before, and gained it all back and then some. If I lost a pound a week, I would be fifty pounds lighter in a year, but what else could happen? Every diet is a promise that if you change your weight, you’ll change your life. What did transformation mean to me after all these years of chasing one?

So maybe this time would be different. No goal weights, for one. I wanted the year ahead to be about strength and triumph, but I wasn’t naive and I knew I couldn’t predict how it would go. It was about losing some weight, not the impossible quest of eliminating every last cosmetically unappealing ounce. Rather than fixating on numbers on a scale, I was interested in coming to terms with myself and trying to break some of my worst lifelong habits. I knew there was room to learn, and to change, and to find some peace.

Chapter One

I Was Even a Fat Child


Jean Nidetch didn’t consider the term fat to be a dirty word; it was more a statement of fact. “I was even a fat child—I haven’t forgotten it,” she was fond of saying, her strong Outer Borough accent turning child into “chi-auld.” “I wanted to be the pretty one. A fat kid never hears the words pretty, adorable, cute, handsome. Instead they’re always good, honest, neat, clean, trustworthy.” She spent her childhood in Brooklyn feeling various kinds of shame for the way she looked. She was too embarrassed to climb on top of the merry-go-round; in school classrooms, she had recurring anxiety that made her sit on the edge of her seat, nervous about an impending fire drill. “I’m always the last one to hoist out of my seat and get out of the room and surely I would knock over the books or the ink or another kid.”

She was born Jean Evelyn Slutsky—named after the actress Jeanne Eagels—in Brooklyn on October 12, 1923. Her father, David Slutsky, was a cabdriver; he was naturally thin, the kind of person who would forget to eat. Her mother, Mae Rodin Slutsky, was a manicurist, and she had the same zaftig body that her daughters, Jean and her younger sister, Helen, inherited. Jean grew up in a working-class, Jewish, Depression-era household in a pre-gentrified Brooklyn; her grandfather had immigrated to the United States from Russia and sold pickles and herring out of a pushcart in Williamsburg long before that neighborhood was populated with boutique hotels and a Whole Foods.

At night Jean’s mother would make dinner and eat with the girls while their father was working a late shift, then she’d sit down and have a second dinner with him once he got home. Food was both a reward and a comfort, her family’s antidote to sorrow and its way to celebrate good news—steak and french fries for Sunday dinners, penny candy by the handful, egg creams made with U-Bet chocolate syrup and nonhomogenized milk from Borden with Elsie the Cow on the bottle and cream on the top. Food was a balm for sadness too. If Jean cried, her family would give her something to eat. Her father took a certain pride in having a fat wife and daughters during the Depression, a sign that he was a good breadwinner able to keep the cupboards from going bare.

Still, Jean was bubbly, extroverted, and talkative. She grew up in an age when Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and Marjorie Hillis’s Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman, both out in 1936, were bestsellers, self-help books propounding ideas of positive thinking, self-reliance, and reinvention, three concepts she would embody over the course of her life. Jean preferred to date boys who were overweight and she avoided the thin girls—she wanted to be the thinnest one in any given group. She claimed that finding clothes that fit was a constant challenge and she started experimenting with fad diets before high school. “Jeanne” (which was either a misspelling of her name or some kind of youthful dalliance with a more European spelling) Slutsky went to Girls High School, an all-girls public school located on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and was the vice president of her senior class; she graduated in 1941. In her yearbook photo, she had a round face and the same gently curled hairstyle that had seemingly swept the entire senior class that year, but you wouldn’t consider her more than maybe a little chubby. Her senior quote was from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Considerations by the Way”: “A day for toil, an hour for sport / But for a friend is life too short.”

Being thin wasn’t a preoccupation of Jean’s alone; in that same yearbook, a fellow student named Germaine wrote an essay titled “This Too, Too Solid Flesh”—a quote from Hamlet—that began in dramatic teenage fashion: “Nobody loves a fat girl, and who knows better than I the sorrows of the flesh?” Germaine described various diets she’d attempted—the two-week milk diet, four-day orange juice diet—and wrote about going to an endocrine clinic, where she submitted to a strict diet of its prescription. After two weeks, she gained a few pounds and resolved to stop dieting. Not that this was necessarily a proto–body acceptance work. In the end Germaine concluded, “Now I am six pounds heavier than I have ever been before, and I am firmly convinced that as years go by, my feet will sink more deeply into the sod beneath them. Indeed my footprints will be left on the sands of time.”

Jean’s obsession with her body reflected the relatively new phenomenon of blue-collar families trying to lose weight, once the pursuit of the wealthy. By the World War II era Jean graduated into, being fat was deeply entrenched in American culture as bad—undesirable, lazy, and inviting mockery. Jean dreaded that fate for herself.


The urge to diet doesn’t come solely from vanity, or family, or habit, or the desire for better health, or society. The best summation I have found is in Hillel Schwartz’s book Never Satisfied, a history of dieting in America.

The desire to be slim is not simply a result of fashion. It must be understood in terms of a confluence of movements in the sciences and in dance, in home economics and political economy, in medical technology and food marketing, in evangelical religion and life insurance. Our sense of the body, of its heft and momentum, is shaped more by the theater of our lives than by our costume. Our furniture, our toys, our architecture, our etiquette are designed for, or impel us toward, a certain kind of body and a certain feeling of weight.

What is considered fat and thin is constantly constructed and updated, subject to the whims of society as much as anything else. While dieting sits at the center of so many seemingly unrelated movements and ideas, the fact is that it places a human being in the middle of these conflicts. Dieting holds out the promise that much can be solved by changing a single person.

Dieting—the word comes from the ancient Greek word diaita,


  • Named a Best Book of the Year by 
    Real Simple 

  • “In this memoir-nonfiction hybrid, Meltzer skillfully blends her own extensive dieting history with the life story of Jean Nidetch, the Queens housewife who founded Weight Watchers in 1963 and helped to create “diet culture” as we know it today.” Vogue
  • "Her life changed dramatically as she realized you can live a big life at any size."—People
  • "A triumphant chronicle... Meltzer has created singular companionate text for those who know the agony of frustration surrounding weight as an issue, both personal and political. Acerbic, culturally astute and genuine, [Meltzer] makes exquisite company in the struggle."—New York Times
  • "Meltzer writes movingly of her own struggles with having a body, but her experiment isn't the exclusive focus of the book: It also chronicles the life of Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch, whose vaudevillian comic timing, retrograde ideas about fat and happiness, and unconcealed desire for fame and connection make her a fascinating subject."—Vox
  • "Marisa Meltzer's new Weight Watchers biography feels surprisingly in sync with the emotional arc of isolation eating."—Wall Street Journal Magazine
  • "If you've ever been critical of diets, diet companies, and diet culture in the past, you're going to love what Meltzer has to offer here."—Bustle
  • "Not a memoir of radical self-acceptance or saccharine inspiration, but a candid - at times dark - look at what it means to be an overweight woman in 2020."—Los Angeles Times
  • "This heartfelt, incisive book layers the story of Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch with the author's own lifelong journey through various fad diets. What emerges is a surprising portrait of a remarkable but little-known life in business, as well as a thoughtful critique of America's obsession with thinness."—Esquire
  • "This is Big...[finds] in Nidetch both a genuine pioneer - a woman who built a massive culture-defining business as a time when women couldn't even have their own credit cards - and a representative of many ideas about weight and health that are as destructive as they are enduring."—Vanity Fair
  • "Meltzer looks at her own pursuit of weight loss and uses it to illuminate our culture's relentless focus on thinness."—Washington Post
  • "[This] brilliant book tells the story of thinness obsession through the lives of two women-Jean Nidetch, the founder of Weight Watchers, and Meltzer herself."—Glamour
  • "Meltzer looks at her own pursuit of weight loss and uses it to illuminate our culture's relentless focus on thinness."—The Daily Beast
  • "Inventive...Meltzer's own experience with weight loss."—Bitch
  • "This book is an honest, open exploration of one woman's relationship with her body as it exists in the world."—Here Magazine
  • "[Meltzer] writes with a voice that feels like you're chatting with one of your best friends, cracking jokes and digging into all the emotions you'd usually hide from others who aren't as close to you."—First for Women
  • "Journalist Marisa Meltzer interweaves her personal dieting history with a compelling biography of Jean Nidetch, the woman who founded Weight Watchers. As the author chronicles her own journey through the popular program, she describes how Nidetch-despite getting and staying thin-struggled at home and at work. In the end, Meltzer learns and grows in unexpected ways."—Real Simple
  • "The cleverly told story of both Jean Nidetch, founder of Weight Watchers, and Meltzer's own lifelong battle with her body and her weight."—Kim France, Girls of a Certain Age
  • "Meltzer did a deep dive into Jean Nidetch, the Queens, NY, housewife who founded Weight Watchers in 1963, for a book that is part biography, part memoir of her own lifelong journey with dieting."—New York Post
  • "Her story will resonate with readers who have struggled with weight and body image issues. A straightforward memoir of struggling with obesity and finding inspiration from the founder of Weight Watchers."—Kirkus
  • "Meltzer's engaging history of Weight Watchers and candid account of her own dieting journey is a frank and affirming portrait of the ways women, in particular, have always coped with health and self image."
  • "Insightful...a thoughtful exploration of how to make diet choices on one's own terms."—Publishers Weekly
  • "This is Big is a brave, bold, funny, honest, riveting book that made me have every kind of feeling in the world."—Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up
  • "For anyone who has ever felt defeated by food, betrayed by their own body, embarrassed for not only lacking the willpower to change their habits but also embarrassed by the desire to change their own body, Marisa Meltzer sees you, has written this book for you because she is you. While simultaneously delving into the history of the woman who started Weight Watchers and bravely and honestly examining her own complicated relationship with food and weight, Marisa has written a book that perfectly captures our country's obsession with THIN and the struggle with obesity at this moment in history."—Busy Philipps, author of This Will Only Hurt A Little
  • "Marisa Meltzer is an ingenious writer. This Is Big expertly weaves together two engaging tales: the charming, funny, and often heartbreaking account of Meltzer's lifelong attempts at bodily transformation, and the little-known story of a largely forgotten American icon Jean Nidetch, the irrepressible, pathbreaking entrepreneur who founded the now billion-dollar company Weight Watchers in her modest living room in 1963."—Nancy Jo Sales, author of American Girls and The Bling Ring
  • "This book was so good that I devoured it (with no guilt)! Meltzer shows us, through honesty, rawness and deep vulnerability, the complexities of living in a body that doesn't adhere to society's narrow beauty standards in an era that holds up body positivity as gospel."—Mara Altman, author of Gross Anatomy
  • "A witty and meaningful look at our obsession with weight and dieting; blending the story of the founder of Weight Watchers with her own saga, Marisa Meltzer crafts an amusing story with universal insights.''—SheilaWeller, author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon -and the Journey of a Generation and Carrie Fisher; A Life On The Edge
  • "This book is an incredible hybrid: both a detailed study of an extraordinary American life, and a candid and revealing memoir. Meltzer is the biographer Jean Nidetech deserves, crafting a portrait of the woman and the world in which she lived. She's also a bracing memoirist, a warm and honest voice unafraid to offer readers the stuff of her own life to help us better understand the culture we now share. It's a remarkable feat."—Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Rich and Pretty

On Sale
Apr 14, 2020
Page Count
7 pages

Marisa Meltzer

About the Author

Marisa Meltzer is a journalist based in New York who has contributed to the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York,The Guardian, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. She was born in Northern California and is the author of two previous books, How Sassy Changed My Life and Girl Power.

Learn more about this author