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.

Bodybuilding.com is a website that dedicates itself to educating individuals on how to live healthy lifestyles and they even have a motivation page.  http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbmainmind.htm


Voice and Tone

Carol writes this graphic memoir in first person.  She has a down to earth essence about her when she writes and relates to an everyday person’s life.  She has comic relief to deal with the serious topic.  We learn about Carol by the way she writes.  She is realistic and honest. http://margaretcho.com/2011/07/20/weight-loss-and-what-trainers-don%E2%80%99t-prepare-you-for/

Significance of Title

The Big Skinny: How I changed my fatitude

Appearance and being skinny is a big deal to some people.  To start maintaining an active lifestyle is hard and there is lots of work put in before you get used to living healthy.  This is the relevance to the Big Skinny.  How I changed my fatitude is the second part of the title.  Fatitude is a portmanteau that combines attitude and fat.  This gives the suggestion along with the word change that she had an unhealthy “fat” attitude and changed it.  This in comparison with the first part creates a nice contrast between skinny and fat, and bad attitude to healthy attitude.

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. http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2010/10/04/the-beginners-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/

Historical Context & Influences

Carol Lay was a normal kid, but then as she grew into her teens she felt somewhat invisible and turned to food and started gaining weight in order to be seen (Lay , 2014).

At the age of seventeen her mother sent her to weight watchers in order to help her with weight loss and did not work. (Lay , 2014)

At the age of nineteen she visited a doctor which recommended her to take diet pills. She lost weight rapidly but she also became addicted to pills and realized that she did not wanted to be dependent on drugs. (Lay , 2014)

As a child she was fascinated with science fiction theatre, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock and Dyke Show. Also she enjoyed reading books and watch TV, which influenced her passion for drawing. (Lay , 2014)

She enjoyed her childhood and thought life was easy, no job, no worries and loved the suburban neighborhood where she grew up in Whittier California. (Lay , 2014)

Outstanding Scenes

Carol Lay may have focused on her journey to healthy lifestyle, however there were a few moments or scenes that are worth taking note of.  These moments include her relationship with her parents, her childhood, as well as her struggles with her new lifestyle.


Lay’s parents have always loved their daughter, but some of their everyday actions may have directly caused the start of her unhealthy relationship with food.  Lay’s father had a love for salt, in which her father used a large amount of salt on his foods.  Salting foods was encouraged in their household including foods that should not be salted; such as celery sticks, carrots, and even cantaloupe.  Her father passed away from a heart attack at the age of 66.  On the other hand, her mother approached her health problems by addressing the side effects and not the initial problem.  Her mother would take Lay to see the Doctor to prescribe her for Amphetamines in treatment of deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy that allowed her to lose 40 lbs.  In addition, her Doctor would prescribe her stronger medication when her weight loss stalled.  Lay would have preferred going to see a therapist, but her mother was against the idea.  In addition, her mother also fed her foods that lack nutrition.  Lay loved her parents, but the unhealthy relationship she initially had with food may have had an easier path if her parents took her condition more seriously.


Carol Lay had a difficult childhood.  She would eat unconsciously, from boredom, and suffer from low self-esteem.  People would even forget her name at large family gatherings.  At school, students would tease her for her weight, and suffer from terrible acne.  In College, Lay would eat uncontrollably in her College dorm cafeteria.  After her first year, she shared an apartment with others and would bake obsessively and devour whatever food she made.


Lay soon found a way that allowed her to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into her everyday lifestyle.  Instead of turning to quick fixes such as diet pills and restrictions on her diets, enjoying foods in smaller portions and calorie counting was the method that worked for Lay.  She was also able to incorporate exercise into her daily routine as well as reaching out to friends that had also struggled with their weight.  Her friends would have additions and secrets with food.  In turn, Lay would be able to make her friends understand their unhealthy relationship with food.


Through the descriptions, Lay had a way to describe each character’s outlook on food.  This is portrayed through her parents, her friend Jane and housemate Derek.  Her parents struggled through food by continuously choosing to not change their current lifestyle with food.  The foods they would choose to intake would include deep fried foods, overly salted foods, and in excessive amounts.  She would make the reader understand that the lifestyle they chose was not going to change because her parents had settled into that type of lifestyle.  They were be uncomfortable with the change and would not settle.

On the other hand, Lay’s friend Jane battled a secret addition to a certain brand of crackers that she had relied on as her form of comfort food.  After speaking about her addition to Carol, Jane let go of her addition.  It allowed the audience to understand the type of person Jane was.  Jane might have been addicted to crackers as a source of comfort, but confiding in someone allowed her to let go of her fears and made her feel better.  She did not have to keep another secret from her husband, which was making her feel worse.

Lastly, Lay’s housemate Derek also struggled with weight loss.  She was able to help him realize his problems through exercise, calorie counting, and portion controls.  Even though Derek comes from a family with health problems, he was able to break through it.  It allows the audience to realize that Derek was a man that was taking charge of his own life.  He wanted to lose the weight and not follow the footsteps of some of his family members that had to go through gastric bypass surgery due to their weight.