How Melissa From 'Real Housewives Of New Jersey' Changed From Her First Episode To Now

It feels it was a whole lifetime ago that Melissa Gorga joined the Real Housewives of New Jersey cast back in Season 3. Or at the very least, it feels like a very different show and very different Melissa than we know today. Melissa Gorga has changed a lot since her first episode of RHONJ. Longtime viewers have seen the evolution of Melissa's relationships, career, style, and even hair throughout the years.

Melissa started Real Housewives of New Jersey as a proud stay-at-home mom who was at odds with her sister-in-law (and eternal star of the show), Teresa Giudice. Now, she has several different job titles, runs her own businesses, and she and Teresa are attached at the hip. Oh, how times have changed and that's not even the half of it.

There have been some bumps along the way, but Melissa has a lot to be proud of. The mother of three has used the reality TV show as a platform to truly come into her own and live out her lifelong dreams. She is really making the most out of her reality star status and is even creating opportunities of her own.

These are just some of the ways that Melissa Gorga has changed from her first Real Housewives of New Jersey episode.

1She Is Best Friends With Teresa

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If it wasn't for Melissa's feud with Teresa, she might not even be on the show, so reality TV fame could be a considered a silver lining to their years of animosity. After years of fighting about chairs on the porch, Christmas cookies, and stripper accusations, the two finally decided to call a truce and build a genuine friendship after Teresa was released from prison.

2She Is A Business Owner

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Melissa has always been a fashionista, but now she has her own clothing boutique called Envy by Melissa Gorga in Montclair, New Jersey. Now, her fans can emulate all of the outfits that she wears on the show.

3She Has Rocked Every Hair Color

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When Melissa joined Real Housewives of New Jersey, she had dark long hair, just like Teresa. At this point, viewers have seen her with many different hairstyles and lengths. Even though Melissa changes up her hair pretty often, the one thing that has remained constant is that she's never had a bad hair day on this show. Ever.

4She Is Not Close With Kathy

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When Melissa became a Real Housewife, she was at odds with Teresa, who was close friends with Jacqueline Laurita and Caroline Manzo. Luckily for Melissa, husband Joe Gorga's cousin Kathy Wakile joined the cast at the same time. Melissa was very close with Kathy at that time, but that is not the case these days.

In a Bravo blog post from 2016, Melissa explained the rift with Kathy, "Our issue with Kathy and Richie [Wakile] is that they are the ones that pulled away from Joe and I, waaay before Teresa went away, and I’m still not even sure why." Once she resumed filming for Season 7 after Teresa's return, Melissa said Kathy started to reach out more. Melissa wrote, "Now, they all of sudden are ready to come back around and are annoyed that we aren’t dropping everything to make time for them."

5She Is More Comfortable Sharing Her Opinions With Her Co-stars

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By now, everyone is aware of Melissa's past issues with Teresa, but other than that, Melissa did not get into it with her co-star... at least for the most part.

But more recently, things have changed. Melissa stood up for Teresa against Jacqueline at the Season 7 reunion, she came for pot stirrer Kim DePaola several times, and she went back and forth with Siggy Flicker during Season 8's never-ending cake fight saga. Melissa is more than capable of holding her own in any situation that comes her way.

6She Has A Stronger Voice In Her Marriage

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When Melissa initially opened her clothing store, her husband Joe was not on board with her dividing her time between their family and her business. Joe even told Melissa, "What you do, you bring in crumbs. See, I bring in the cake," during a Season 7 episode. After a whole season of explaining what the store means to her and working hard, Joe finally got on board to support his wife and truly value her input.

7She's Spending More Time With Her Nieces

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Now that Melissa and Teresa are close, Melissa's relationships with Teresa's four daughters are stronger than ever. Melissa is a very involved aunt who makes time to hang out with her nieces as often as she can.

8She Wrote A Book

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At this point, writing a book is a rite of passage for the Housewives. Are you even a Real Housewife without a book of your own? In 2013, Melissa became a published author with her book Love Italian Style: The Secrets of My Hot and Happy Marriage.

9She & Jacqueline Are Enemies

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Season 7 put a nail in the coffin of Melissa and Jacqueline's friendship. It started with a small hiccup: Melissa was upset when Jacqueline called her husband, Joe, to put him on the spot about something he was rumored to have said about his own sister Teresa. She didn't feel like it was appropriate for Jacqueline to pull her husband into her spat with Teresa. With Teresa and Melissa getting closer, and Teresa and Jacqueline's relationship waning, it was only a matter of time before Melissa and Jacqueline's friendship changed.

Aside from the tension between Jacqueline and Teresa, Melissa explained why she doesn't want to be friends with Jacqueline with Bravo's The Daily Dish, "I just kind of feel like I'm at that age, I'm at that point in my life like [where] if it's not easy, I don't want it and once I feel like someone digs and tries to hurt." And now Jacqueline isn't even a part of a the cast, so it's not likely that these two will rekindle the friendship anytime soon.

10She Knows Not To Bring Sprinkle Cookies To Christmas Eve

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Out of all the things that Melissa and Teresa have argued about over the years, the sprinkle cookies argument was the most ridiculous by far. Even so, it was nothing short of iconic. Teresa became (irrationally) offended when Melissa brought sprinkle cookies to Christmas Eve, threw them out, and now Melissa knows not to do that ever again.... unless she has her sister-in-law's blessing like she did last Christmas when Melissa and Teresa gave each other cookies as gag gifts.

11She Has Recorded Music

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Just like many Housewives before and after her, Melissa used the show as a springboard to live out one of her lifelong dreams: recording music. Melissa blessed the RHONJ fandom with songs including "On Display" and "Never Let Me Go."

12She Is Friends With Housewives From Other Shows

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Aside from the women she's met on her own show, Melissa has developed relationships with Housewives from other cities. New York Housewife Ramona Singer interrupted the RHONJ Season 8 reunion when she called Melissa. Instead of going to a big party for the Season 7 premiere, Melissa watched RHONJ at her home with Dorinda Medley by her side.

Even though the reality star life can bring some drama and hard times, Melissa has truly made the most out of the Real Housewife experience. She is thriving personally, professionally, and fashionably at that. Melissa's life has changed greatly and for the better ever since her first RHONJ episode.