The Ministry of Thin

How the Pursuit of Perfection Got Out of Control

  • Imprint: Summersdale
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Price: £8.99
  • Publication date: 14 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9781849534123

About the book

Losing weight has become the modern woman’s holy grail… everything will be better when we’re thin.

We’re obsessed with weight, we dislike our bodies, we worry about the food we eat, we feel guilty, we diet… Too many of us are locked into a war with our own bodies which we’ll never win, and which will never make us happy.

The Ministry of Thin takes a controversial, unflinching look at how the modern obsession with weight loss, youth, beauty and perfection got out of control. Emma Woolf, author of An Apple a Day, explores how we might all be able to stop hating and start liking our own bodies again. And she dares to ask: if losing weight is the answer, what is the question?

About the author

Emma Woolf is the great-niece of Virginia Woolf. After studying English at Oxford University she worked in publishing, before becoming a full-time writer. She is a columnist for The Times and also writes for The Independent, The Mail on Sunday, Harper's Bazaar, Red, Grazia and Psychologies. She was a co-presenter on Channel 4's Supersize vs SuperskinnyNewsnight, Woman's Hour and Radio 4's Four Thought.

Emma's first book, An Apple a Day: A Memoir of Love and Recovery from Anorexia was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the Beat Award for Recovery Inspiration. She was also nominated for Mind's Journalist of the Year. She lives in London.

You can follow Emma on Twitter: @ejwoolf.

Review of The Ministry of Thin in The Observer: "Woolf sets her stall out with brio. [...] Woolf's skill in is in adding intellectual and emotional ballast to the debates that interest her. In its best moments, this book emerges as a hypnotist's finger-click signalling women to wake up."


'A brilliant and brutal look at the world of thin, by a writer who knows too well the damaging effects of such a persuasive club. Think you are immune to their rhetoric? Then think again.'

Dr Christian Jessen

'Thoughtfully written and incisive, Emma Woolf looks at the darker side of our obsession with dieting...'

Ian Marber

'She talks much sense having been through 10 years of anorexia.'

The Bookseller

'Woolf sets her stall out with brio… a hypnotist's finger-click signalling women to wake up.'

The Observer

'this book might make you a little more conscious when dealing with patients who may be battling with body image problems, or an eating disorder.'

Student BMJ (British Medical Journal)

'A very honest, intelligent reflection on the causes and effects of society's obsession with thin.'

Dr Linda Papadopoulos

'The Ministry of Thin is frank, funny, and fascinating - I wanted to shout "hear, hear" at the end of almost every sentence.'

Anne H. Putnam, author of Navel Gazing: One Woman's Quest for a Size Normal