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306 pages, Hardcover
First published June 13, 2017
People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard.
Mine is not a success story. Mine is, simply, a true story.
I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived.
He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors, if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it, and more often than not, that truth turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say.
To be clear, the fat acceptance movement is important, affirming, and profoundly necessary, but I also believe that part of fat acceptance is accepting that some of us struggle with body image and haven’t reached a place of peace and unconditional self-acceptance.
“I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived.”
→ 🌺 let's talk empathy ←
I hate myself. Or society tells me I am supposed to hate myself, so I guess this, at least, is something I am doing right.
Or, I should say, I hate my body. I hate my weakness at being unable to control my body. I hate how I feel in my body. I hate how people see my body. I hate how people stare at my body, treat my body, comment on my body. I hate equating my self-worth with the state of my body and how difficult it is to overcome this equation. I hate how hard it is to accept my human frailties. I hate that I am letting down so many women when I cannot embrace my body at any size.
But I also like myself, my personality, my weirdness, my sense of humor, my wild and deep romantic streak, how I love, how I write, my kindness and my mean streak. It is only now, in my forties, that I am able to admit that I like myself, even though I am nagged by this suspicion that I shouldn’t. For so long, I gave in to my self-loathing. I refused to allow myself the simple pleasure of accepting who I am and how I live and love and think and see the world. But then, I got older and I cared less about what other people think. I got older and realized I was exhausted by all my self-loathing and that I was hating myself, in part, because I assumed that’s what other people expected from me, as if my self-hatred was the price I needed to pay for living in an overweight body. [...]
I don’t want to change who I am. I want to change how I look. On my better days, when I feel up to the fight, I want to change how this world responds to how I look because intellectually I know my body is not the real problem.
On bad days, though, I forget how to separate my personality, the heart of who I am, from my body. I forget how to shield myself from the cruelties of the world.
“This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.”
Whew! Roxane Gay gives it up and lays it all out there baring body and soul to the world in HUNGER.
She writes about the unspeakable horror that broke her young body and mind at age 12 and reveals the struggles of a 400+ weight challenged woman in our society....the limitations....the stares....the shame....and the constant battle of trying to lose hundreds of pounds.
She also reveals facts about health issues, personal relationships and difficulty in purchasing clothes beyond the sizes offered by even a Lane Bryant....and then....there's always those horrific haunted memories of what she endured.
Roxane Gay is a talented writer with a loving, supportive family. She often writes about sexual violence as in AN UNTAMED STATE....my first experience reading Gay's work....an excellent read; and now I understand why she chooses such disturbing subjects.
As for HUNGER, while somewhat redundant in the telling, it is a very brave and emotionally raw offering that "demands to be told and deserves to be heard." It is about recognition of those who don't fit the mold and acceptance of same. It is about coming to terms with her ordeal.
Gay writes, "Mine is not a success story. Mine is simply a true story."
One final note: I do hope HE and HIS cohorts read this powerful story and have the backbone (not the word I wanted to use) to finally come forward and apologize for their despicable actions. Perhaps that would ease Ms. Gay's struggle.
This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but demands to be told and deserves to be heard.
What you need to know is that my life is split in two, cleaved not so neatly. There is the before and the after. Before I gained weight. After I gained weight. Before I was raped. After I was raped