The plot of the Big Skinny follows Carol and how she struggled with weight.  Through her experience she eventually learns that counting calories and being healthy may seem hard to do at first, but that’s only because she wasn’t use to it.  She consistently refers to herself presently, and compares the old her to the new her.  Carol also refers to personal troubles she incurred along the way which hindered her weight loss.  She reviews her whole background and her family’s impact on her health and diet.  Carol provides insights into why losing weight by eating healthy and exercising is rewarding yet a challenge at the same time.

Here is a blog post on different insights on the journey of losing weight.



Carol – The protagonist of the graphic memoir that conquers her challenge of making a diet easy and sustainable there are two sides to Carol that show up throughout the book.  There is skinny happy Carol, and overweight unhappy Carol.  Skinny happy carol is happy not due to her weight, but he changes to focus on herself and having a healthy lifestyle.  Unhappy Carol is self-conscious and has a lack of control when it comes to food and motivation to exercise.

There are also several other small characters throughout the book:

Hostess – From “What’s it all about” – She questions how Carol lost all the weight

Ex-Husband – Isn’t spoken about much

Mother – Prepared “traditional” family food that wasn’t healthy.  She believed she was doing the best for Carol and got her on diet pills

Father – Had an alcohol problem and indulged in foods a lot – loved salt

Several personal trainers throughout the graphic memoir

Mini Carol – Acts as a continuous and keeps questioning her tedious diet habits by playing devil’s advocate

Derek – Carol’s roommate who is educated by Carol on the importance of nutrition after he ate too much

Jane – Carol’s friend who has an issue with eating crackers


The themes that reoccur in this are perseverance, self-actualization, and health.  The weight of th nation is a website dedicated to educating individuals on weight loss and its benefits.  Some of these themes listed are benefits of losing weight and can be soft skills that you develop from losing weight.

Perseverance can be seen throughout the whole book.  Carol combines her dedication and need to feel good attitude to continue her healthy lifestyle no matter how hard it seems.  Eventually, due to her perseverance she finds that counting calories and eating healthy isn’t as hard as she thought.

Self-Actualization can be seen throughout the graphic memoir.  This is because the whole purpose of self-actualization is realizing your potential and what you are capable of.  In the graphic memoir Carol learns that being healthy and exercising is a part of her.  She loves feeling good and after years of trying to find a way to lose weight she did it, all be herself.

Health can be seen through the graphic memoir as it is a book on sharing insights and ideas of how to live a healthy lifestyle.  It covers calorie counting, temptations, balancing a diet with exercise and even has a small recipe section at the back.


The Big Skinny is organized into different sections based on the challenges Carol faced and the lessons she learned from them.  The memoir is shown graphically divided into sections based on events in her life.  She consistently refers to two personas; the healthy Carol, and the not healthy Carol.  She goes through each event in her life and analyzes them through her two personas.  Her unhealthy self, questions why she puts all of her effort into becoming healthy while her healthy-self educates her and inspires her.  David from the Huffington Post compares these two attitudes in everyday people.


The purpose of The Big Skinny is to educate Americans on how to live a healthy balanced lifestyle while providing insights into the troubles people face when losing weight.  Carol wanted to use her skills by creating a graphic autobiography that would allow her to express her experience with those who may be facing the challenge of a healthy lifestyle. is a website that dedicates itself to educating individuals on how to live healthy lifestyles and they even have a motivation page.

Historical, Social and Culture Context

Historically Carol covers how peoples eating habits have changed.  She shows that people over time have stopped hunting for food and producing their own food.  Over time people have relied on others to feed them and in today’s fast paced society, fast food seems practical and useful.  There’s just one problem, the majority of it is unhealthy if you eat it all the time.  Carol shows that humans over time have lost a sense of moderation.  Now a day, it is challenging to find food without preservatives.

Socially Carol addresses the everyday challenges people face.  It is more than just eating healthy foods.  Carol explains the context in which someone needs to change their mindset towards health if they are to truly succeed in leading a healthy lifestyle.

Culturally Carol shows how unhealthy eating habits have actually been adapted into cultures.  For example, how her family put tons of salt on food.  Carol was raised that way so she didn’t know anything different.  It was the norm for her.  In America, the morning coffee or donut has become a regiment for certain individuals.

The paleo diet is a diet that allows us to eat as if we were cavemen.  This puts an emphasis on eating natural foods accessible back when cavemen were around.  The foods are basically meats, fruits and vegetables.  Nerdfitness is a website that explains the benefits of the paleo diet and how to follow it.