A memoir of the body is a really interesting idea. Honestly, it makes me want to write a post or series that does the same thing. I haven’t had the same experiences with my body that Gay has, but there are so many ways for the female body to break.
In Hunger, Gay begins with a specific kind of break that is more common than it should be, that should never happen to anyone. From there she discusses the ways she dealt with that break and the effect it had on the body and her opinions of her body, which created a new set of problems while fixing the last.
Her solution was brilliant in its efficiency but also detrimental to other parts of life. Honestly, it makes so much sense that I’d be surprised if there aren’t many others who cope in the same way. Still, it’s not healthy, which she freely admits. Let me take a moment to specify that I mean holding in that much hurt is not emotionally healthy and it seems to cause it’s own kind of mental unhealth. I can’t imagine looking at the world this way can be healthy for anyone’s mental health and yet women are constantly forced into a state where we are held responsible for others victimization of us. Being on constant guard for whether or not our perceived friend actually wants to hurt us and what our culpability may be if they did hurt us, because how dare we trust anyone is really no way to live.
Getting back to Gay, though, this book is magical and I appreciate her bravery and willingness to be so vulnerable. I especially loved the way she talked about the fat experience. All the women in my family grow up skinny and gain lots of weight in their twenties, usually during pregnancy, that never goes away. I’ve seen a lot of the thing Gay talks about play out as I went places with my family and as my mother explained all her fears about going on a plane. It all contributed to an insane fear when I was pregnant of gaining too much wait to lose. Its strange to me though that people still felt the need to comment on my mother’s weight and then assume I’d join them in talking crap about fat people.
I loved the way she talked about the rash of weight loss shows and particularly “The Biggest Loser”. It was such a sensation when it first came out that I watched an episode but one was enough. I’ve tried and failed to be that support person for my mother and seen a part of what she goes through. Then watching the sensationalized version on television and knowing something of what could be happening between those scenes and I couldn’t bear it.
I don’t understand fat-shaming other than as a disgusting way for a horrible person to make themselves feel superior. I have, on the other hand, witnessed countless times when different family members have been marginally successful on diets and shoved the diet she should try down her throat and shame her for not wanting to try it too. I’ve seen the doctors talk about health and dieting as if she’s too dumb to understand that her weight poses a health risk but I’ve also seen the diets and the hunger. I love Roxane Gay so much for being so honest about that struggle and what it does to someone. Its a relief to hear someone talking about all of this.
I highly recommend this book for any feminist, but also anyone who is interested in ending fat-shaming and who is working for body positivity. I borrowed the audio book from the library, but anyone interested in purchasing can click on the cover for worldwide options.