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Announcements > Questions for Roxane Gay **[UPDATED WITH ANSWERS!!]

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message 1: by Emma (new)

Emma Watson (emmawatsonbookclub) | 49 comments Mod
Dear Our Shared Shelf,

Excited to let you know that Roxane Gay has kindly agreed to answer our questions about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Please post your questions for her in this discussion and then look out for responses later this month.

Emma x


message 2: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin (ashiot) | 215 comments Welcome back Emma! I have questions, will go through my notes and marks. Thank you so much Em!


message 3: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Okay, now I really need to catch up with reading.

Thank you so much Emma, for this and for coming back!


message 4: by Sascha (new)

Sascha (smileylymie) | 14 comments Thank you for this exciting opportunity!!! I would love to know what the main GOAL or mission of "Hunger" is, in her mind?


message 5: by Spencer (new)

Spencer | 26 comments Thank you Emma for the chance to ask questions of Roxane!

Question:

Roxane, being seen as a figure in the feminist movement, how do you feel “Hunger” portrays your vision for women?

The book also seems to express some personal vulnerabilities, how did you feel when writing this? Did it seem necessary in telling the story, or did you use it as a tool for other women out there to possibly relate to?


message 6: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe | 54 comments So happy you are back!! Shame I don't have a copy of the book, if not I could have asked some questions. Good luck everyone with their questions! ❤️


message 7: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1444 comments going to have to give this one some thought book was awe inspiring actually really effected me.


Agnes Szalkowska | 386 comments I need think deeper before I ask some question. Because this book is so close to my own life .


message 9: by Griselda (new)

Griselda (graygal) Questions for Roxane (P.S, I enjoyed this story. I had some flashbacks on my own as I was reading it, but I was grateful you weren't trying to make light of any of the situations. It gets annoying to read self-help books because of that. Sometimes you just want to talk about the truth...without needing to figure out a solution.)

Has writing this book helped you heal in any way?

In certain states, obesity is the norm, have you ever considered moving there? I live in LA so I often think my body image issues would disappear if I move to a less skinny-oriented place.

You mentioned that you started appreciating your body a lot more...what activities help you come to appreciation?

You said that there are many activities (such as hiking, and marathons) that you feel jealous because you can't do them...but that you wouldn't want to do them anyway. What is something you can't do that you would want to do?


message 10: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Hi,
Could we ask questions regarding bad feminist as well?


message 11: by Alina (new)

Alina Pace | 2 comments I'll be fully honest: I didn't really enjoy the book. It left me confused, annoyed, and just a generally bad feeling.
About 5 years ago,I was also obese,however through a combination of therapy, proper eating habits and self-discipline, I'm now at a healthy weight.
However,one thing that confused me was why you feel that thin people are there to taunt you,and that a woman to is still fat,but can buy clothing in some specialty stores,is not truly struggling,or as you called it 'lane Bryant fat'.
Both of those thing left me very confused.


message 12: by Agnes Szalkowska (new)

Agnes Szalkowska | 386 comments I love this book, sometimes it is hard for me to read some of the chapters, because it is like based on my own life.
One exception is that my run-away from the trauma was alcohol, drugs, self-harm, depression and in the end a suicide attempt.
The self-harm gave me pain which I could control and the pain gave me a relief in some way.
In the end my body was marked with scars.

So my question is:
Does the pain ever disappear and does the body ever forget the traumatic events which mark and destroy our bodies?
Or maybe we really don’t want the pain to go away?

In a way pain made us who we are now.


message 13: by Tanya (new)

Tanya | 2 comments Loved the book!

Question: Have parents gone up to you to say that your book has helped them understand their child's body issues?


message 14: by Ash (new)

Ash (goodreadscomashna_gulati2609) | 205 comments Hi Roxane,

My question to you is:
In bad feminist you mention that it was embarrassing to accept how much priveledge you had.So,do you think priviledge and reservations for minorities are a good thing for everybody or do you think it only promotes inequality further?

Because here in India,there is a lot of reservation for backward communities in the colleges and government jobs.Being a part of the majority community I worked extremely hard and even after being the topper of my school with 97% in science, I wasn't given admission.My deserved admission was given to a person from a backward caste who got only 80% on the basis of reserved quota.

Do you think it is fair and if so how?If not, then what else could we propose?

Regards,
Ashna :)


message 15: by Melody (last edited Oct 01, 2017 09:41PM) (new)

Melody | 22 comments Hi Emma, Roxane, and Our Shared Shelf Friends!

Firstly, thank you Emma for this opportunity to engage further with these amazing authors, and thank you Roxane Gay for writing such a powerful, personal work.

1. As a "Lane Bryant Fat" girl, what are some ways that I can best be an ally to people who are socially and economically disadvantaged for being a size that American society does not typically accommodate?

2. One of the predominant, mainstream narratives about fat people is that we choose to be gluttonous and lazy due to selfishness, negligence, or unruly emotions, and you address this societal/media portrayal in your book. While your trauma was a significant contributing factor to your (and others') weight gain, many people are fat or overweight naturally or due to health or socio-economic conditions outside of their control such as certain thyroid conditions or living in a food desert.
When you were working on this text, did you ever worry that your personal story about your trauma and relationship with food would be used to further this negative stereotype of fat people? In what ways did you feel that the narrative you were crafting about your life added nuance to or combated this stereotype? And finally, do you think that a writer of your celebrity and caliber publishing this memoir will give other fat people a space in the publishing industry to tell their story and add to the narrative of what it can mean to be fat in America?


message 16: by Anshita (last edited Oct 09, 2017 06:29AM) (new)

Anshita (_book_freak) | 14 comments Hello, Roxane & Emma,

Ms. Roxane, Thank you for sharing such a personal story with the readers, I appreciate your work immensely.

Question 1: I'm a 22-year-old, overweight woman whose weight and self-esteem has both fluctuated over the past six years. As a feminist, I have tried to change the way I look for myself, for my own confidence. At times, my progress is usually hindered when I fall in this deep pit of self-loathing and when I don't want to continue even for myself.
In chapter 41, you said, there are good days when you know your body is not the real problem and bad days when you cannot separate yourself from your body. How do you stay encouraged at such bad days? What is your view on staying motivated for a person who is a constant want of validations that accompany weight loss from others?

Question 2:
In chapter 52, you mentioned that fat daughters and thin mothers have especially complicated relationships. Have you experienced the same issues with your mother in this particular context? What is your guidance to improve a more constructive relationship with parents?


message 17: by Ross (last edited Oct 02, 2017 02:36AM) (new)

Ross | 1444 comments My question is how did Roxanne chose when to write the Hunger.

I was profoundly affected by this book. I am male fit and have no real body issues. I also had understanding, dispute my wife's considerable efforts, no understanding of them.

The same has to be said, if l can emulate a fraction of the authors honesty, of rape and the trauma it causes.

thanks to this book I now have some insight. I said in my review all men should read this book I meant that literally.

Thank you for this book Roxanne Gay. Thank you Emma for selecting it i would never have thought to read it otherwise.


message 18: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Morris | 89 comments What is one book you would recommend to Our Shared Shelf?


message 19: by Pouya (new)

Pouya Etemadi | 10 comments Hi I’m pouya from Iran, and I have a question about the experience you had when you were 12 years old. What happened to you was horrible and sadly it happens a lot all around the world.

There isn’t a day that I tell myself that I should do something to stop this madness in people.The closest thing I can think of is right education but I don’t think that these kind of people read books ever in their life.

So which way do you think is the best to educate people and stop these rapping before happening?!

Love you
Pouya


message 20: by Jesse (new)

Jesse (captainjesse) Hi Roxanne,

In light of the recent terrorism attack in Vegas, I wanted to ask you about our society's relationship with trauma. Many of these victims will be dealing with trauma for the first time, and what do you think we as a society can do to foster environments where people feel safe expressing their experiences and fears? PTSD still falls under the stigma of mental illness, and this stigma may keep good people from getting the help they need.

Thank you,
Jesse


message 21: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidimsimone) | 8 comments Hi Emma! Thank you for this amazing group! This will be my first read on this shelf and I'm excited. :)

For Ms. Roxane,
First, thank you for sharing your story in what seems to have been a sensitive and private aspect of your life. I'm sure you have and will touch many hearts.

- What would you say was the hardest part in writing your memoir?
- Which part was the 'easiest'?

Thank you Emma and Roxane. :)


message 22: by Robert (new)

Robert (robertwkessler) | 62 comments Emma,
I greatly appreciate how you use your networking abilities, combined with what you yourself have learned, to connect impassioned readers with authors of diverse backgrounds and seasoned experiences. You are not obliged to do so, which is perhaps why I am all the more grateful for your intentionality in equipping and empowering others.
Thank you.

Roxane,
You have survived a great deal, including no small measure of assumptions, hostility, and derision by those you are close to, and by those who presume to know you but do not.

What advice would you give to young people who are enduring similar struggles with identity, fear, shame, and the physical out-workings of those struggles (weight gain, eating disorders, etc.)?

Also, I could not help but think while reading Hunger that writing this book, though difficult, might have been somewhat of a cathartic experience for you. Do you find writing and other artistic expression to be helpful in understanding and taking ownership of your story? If so, would you take a moment to share how?

Thank you Roxane, for your transparency, and for sharing your voice with us.
-Robert


message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert Smart | 351 comments Before I ask my question I must say Hello to Roxane from Exeter, New Hampshire.
I had a very emotional response to "Hunger" not only from your traumatic experience and the thoughts and feelings it brought to you throughout your life some of which I have mirrored myself for my own reasons but also to have you slowly describe some of my home and to know that I had similar feelings at a similar time graduating in the class of 1992 at Exeter Area High School when you were at PEA.
Myself being very closed afraid and shy to everyone and through that never being able to form any type of close heartfelt female friendships ever in my life until joining OurSharedShelf. It is from that statement that I derive my first question to you:

1. Have you ever finally allowed yourself somehow in some way to form any close heartfelt male friendships (not necessarily boyfriends, any close friends) without the fear of past experiences over shadowing those friendships?

2.(similar to Ross) Was there a triggering point or something to that affect that told you that now was the time to write "Hunger" or was it more a part of you instinctually saying that you were ready to release these parts of yourself for others to read and feel?


message 24: by Pam (last edited Oct 05, 2017 03:19AM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Roxane, thank you. Thank you for putting into words some of the coping mechanisms a victim/survivor juggles. It's a hard enough secret to share, but another one completely to try to explain why things are this way. Any fanciful descriptions I can come up with that spares loved ones the pain of reality also falls short of how ingrained and addicting these habits can be. I read your memoir crying but nodding along, that I wasn't crazy for doing these exact things. Thank you for forgiving yourself, thank you for offering space to also forgive myself.

You mention flash backs, panic attacks, hyperawareness, etc. but I don't recall you actively stating that you had or didn't have PTSD or C-PTSD. As this is normally reserved for our service men and women, I'm curious if you have received external push back or have internal reservations about claiming this diagnosis?

Also, what is your favorite Barefoot Contessa recipe to cook?

Thank you very, very much. See you around Goodreads!


message 25: by Simone (new)

Simone | 85 comments This is Great! Thanks for the opportunity, Emma!
my question is :In writing this book do you ever feel hard or scared to reveal and analysis yourself completely?


message 26: by Ann (new)

Ann Girdharry (anngirdharry) | 89 comments My question is more about Bad Feminist - is that allowed?

Roxane - You talked about Hollywood (and the public's) obsession with movies about slavery and post-slavery and the popularity of depicting black people as subservient, domestics etc in movies generally.

You then talk about Tyler Perry's movies (a black film maker) who depicts women in variously negative tropes/roles.
You tell us you had an 'ah-ha' moment when you realised that Perry's movies "were successful because of their moralism and sneering at women, not in spite of them. "

What I want to ask is, have you ever felt tempted to play to the 'tropes' in order to be more popular? Even a little bit?
For instance, some women writers put initials in their author names to make it unclear whether they are a man or not, because they know male authors sell better (particularly in some genres).
Some authors put white characters in their books and on the covers of their books, because they know this will be more popular.
When is it right to 'give' a little and have you ever done it in relation to your professional life?
Especially since you describe yourself as a 'Bad Feminist'?

thanks in advance!


message 27: by cyn (new)

cyn (cyncinnati) | 16 comments I have a couple questions for Roxane.

You are seen as a determined and strong voice of feminism, but this book is incredibly vulnerable. How do you balance that?

When reading this book from another's view, who do you see as the type of audience for this book?
What is it that gives you joy, motivation, or gives you the needed push when it's so much easier to stop trying?

"As a woman, as a fat woman, I am not supposed to take up space. And yet, as a feminist, I am encouraged to believe I can take up space." is one of your powerful quotes, but who is to say you can't be both, punch back and say, "I can take up however much space as I want"?

Thanks for your time,

Cynthia Meng


message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 9 comments Thankyou so much Emma x


message 29: by Ross (last edited Oct 10, 2017 03:08PM) (new)

Ross | 1444 comments Do you think your assault would have been treated differently if you and been white Roxanne do you think you might have acted differently at the time?

Difficult question I understand but was raised during several discussion on meet up (Skype)


message 30: by Robert (new)

Robert (robertwkessler) | 62 comments What advice would you give those of us who love and support people who struggle with fear, shame, and body-image? I am asking as a therapist who wants to better support and serve those who come to me for help.

What advice would you give families who are trying to support daughters and sisters with experiences similar to yours?


message 31: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments ^^^We've got your back Emma. Haters gonna hate, we can't change that.


message 32: by Tiffani (new)

Tiffani Sharice (tiffani3su) Meelie wrote: "

https://media.giphy.com/media/Oo5QGEp..."


I agree! :)


message 33: by Tiffani (new)

Tiffani Sharice (tiffani3su) I don't have any questions- But I wanted to thank Roxane for writing this book!! Many of us struggle with weight issues, and I can identify with so much she's written. I also commend her for writing a book abut her body "now"... So many of us (including myself) look far into the future and think "I'll do this when I'm thinner... I'll do that when I don't feel as self-conscious about my weight..." etc... I always try to embrace whatever stage my body is in, but it is an uphill battle. So I'm thankful she wrote this.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Dear Roxane,

I'm a young teenage girl who's read Hunger and think it's an incredible book. I admire strength, qualities, and even your weaknesses - you are an amazing woman.

My question is this: do you have advice you would give 13/15-year-old girls like myself about body image and weight issues? Both myself and my friend struggle with accepting our natural beauty...

Thank you, and please keep up your work. You're wonderful.

Sophia <3


message 35: by Phoebe (new)

Phoebe | 54 comments My question is: What one piece of advice would you give teenagers that struggle with self confidence and how this advice helped you? <3


message 36: by Breanne (new)

Breanne | 3 comments In Hunger, you talk about how the Internet helped you to connect to people in a way that you couldn't have before. My question is: do you think that the Internet, social media, and online anonymity in general helps more or hurts more when it comes to body image and society's expectations for what "the right" way to look is?


message 37: by Chris (new)

Chris | 1 comments Ma'am, thank you for sharing your story with us.

In the closing chapters you state you are working toward feeling comfortable in your own body and, "abandoning the damaging cultural messages." While those are both admirable goals the root irritant, damaging cultural messages, remains and ensnares others who don't have the experiences or strength of spirit that you have nurtured over the years.

Challenging damaging messages by making your opinion known and voice heard via books, talk shows, or whatever platform you have is important, and I believe a necessary first step, but what comes next? How do we, as a society, move from bringing attention to narrowly defined beauty standards to actually taking steps to resolve the problem? What, in your opinion, will those steps look like?


message 38: by Allie (new)

Allie (goodreadscomallisonnaylor) | 11 comments First, I am glad this book was chosen for this month's book. While I am not obese, I have struggled with pressures from others to get my weight "under control" for years, so I could identify with some portions of the book.

My question is, in Ms. Gay's opinion, how do people who do not have the same experiences of being obese respectfully communicate and be an ally for these women (and men)?

I think that sometimes when non-obese people communicate with obese people, they are well-intentioned and don't realize how their communication may be hurtful or disrespectful (i.e., "cheering on" an obese person at the gym), but Ms. Gay pointed out that those types of situations can be hurtful or offensive. Likewise, when a non-obese person has an obese friend, the non-obese person may not consider how a certain situation or activity may impact the obese person (like Ms. Gay's example of simply going for walks/hikes or going to restaurants). How can those well-intentioned people who do not know what it is like to be obese or to struggle with weight be better allies?

I hope that question makes sense.


message 39: by Corinne (new)

Corinne Chan | 1 comments I have just finished reading this book and appreciate Ms. Gay's searingly honest narrative. I, personally, can relate to the body-image anxieties that so many of us women struggle with, but from another perspective.

Because of undiagnosed medical issues, not eating disorders, I spent my childhood, puberty, and young adulthood significantly underweight, with a BMI of 17 of less. Finding clothing that fit, showing my body at the beach, and being resented by those who struggled with being overweight caused significant emotional distress and shame regarding my body. An incident of sexual battery at my place of employment only added to my distress.

I am now 64 years old, and overweight by 10 lbs., all in my belly, and hate it. Please don't judge in any way. I don't want or need to hear it.

My point is, making assumptions about another's body is always wrong, as Ms. Gay so eloquently writes in this memoir. We, as women, have so much to offer each other in the areas of wisdom, support, experience, and love. My hope is that Ms. Gay finds peace in her life, regardless of the numbers on the scale.


message 40: by Ester (new)

Ester Litago Rabasco (estercristinanoelia) | 96 comments Hola a todos/das en Nuestra estantería Compartida :
Mi pregunta para Roxane sería sobre "Mala Feminista ". Hola Roxane, yo no creo que seas mala feminista precisamente, eres humana como todas las demás mujeres, entonces porque te sientes así? De todas maneras no se que es ser una buena feminista, Gracias de antemano, un beso :)


message 41: by Rebecca J (new)

Rebecca J (beccareneja) | 1 comments Thank you for this Emma, and thank you for your writing, Roxane. I waited anxiously for this book to be released, then promptly bought it, but needed to wait for a few weeks before reading it. I knew it would be a tough and incredible read.

I have two questions:

If you had a daughter, what advice would you give her as she grows up in this world?

Do you have any advice on how to be a better ally? (Specifically to anyone struggling with their weight or sexual trauma, or just in general)

Thanks again.


message 42: by Ama (new)

Ama | 6 comments What was your motive behind Hunger and how did feminism play a major role in the book?


message 43: by Emma (new)

Emma Watson (emmawatsonbookclub) | 49 comments Mod
Hello everyone,

Roxane's answers to your questions are below. Please join me in thanking her for contributing to Our Shared Shelf.

Love,
Emma x


From Griselda: Has writing this book helped you heal in any way?

I don't know if this book has helped me heal but it has forced me to take a hard look at myself and some of the behaviors I've developed over the years. Getting honest with yourself can be a difficult thing but I've found it really worthwhile.


From Melody: When you were working on this text, did you ever worry that your personal story about your trauma and relationship with food would be used to further this negative stereotype of fat people?

No, I did not worry about this at all. I cannot control what people do with what I put into this book and if people believe stereotypes about fat people, they are the problem, not me.


From Anshita: In chapter 41, you said, there are good days when you know your body is not the real problem and bad days when you cannot separate yourself from your body. How do you stay encouraged at such bad days? What is your view on staying motivated for a person who is a constant want of validations that accompany weight loss from others?

On bad days, I allow myself to feel bad because I know it is not going to last forever. I try to do small things to make myself feel better, whether it's going for a walk or watching a movie. I try to remind myself that my self-worth has nothing to do with my body. I think most of us crave external validation but I do know that external validation is fickle. It's important to find ways to motivate and validate yourself. A key way to do this is to acknowledge the strides you make toward whatever you goal is.


From Ross: How did you choose when to write Hunger?

I decided to write Hunger just before Bad Feminist came out. I was thinking about what I wanted my next nonfiction book to be and I thought, "The book I want to write least is one about fatness," and in that terrible moment I knew that was the book I needed to write. Then I dragged my heels for three years before actually writing it.


From Charlene: What is one book you would recommend to Our Shared Shelf?

I would recommend Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which is one of the best novels I've ever read. I'd also recommend the essay collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby--absolutely hilarious.


From Pouya: Which way do you think is the best to educate people and stop abuse before it happens?

I have no idea... as a society we have no good answer to this question but I do think people with abusive tendencies need therapy, intensively. And we need better laws so that the threat of legal consequences becomes a deterrent.


From Jesse: What do you think we as a society can do to foster environments where people feel safe expressing their experiences and fears?

We can all have more empathy for one another and we can allow people the space to be vulnerable without judging what comes from that vulnerability.


From Robert: You have survived a great deal, including no small measure of assumptions, hostility, and derision by those you are close to, and by those who presume to know you but do not. What advice would you give to young people who are enduring similar struggles with identity, fear, shame, and the physical out-workings of those struggles (weight gain, eating disorders, etc.)?

I would tell young people dealing with similar issues to recognize that the people in their life judging them harshly or treating them poorly are the real problem. They are not to blame for how people treat them. And I would encourage them to find at least one thing to love about themselves because it's important to have a bit of faith in yourself.


From Simone: In writing this book do you ever feel hard or scared to reveal and analysis yourself completely?

I was terrified to write this book and even more terrified to publish it and have people reading it. I did what I often do when writing from the personal-- I told myself no one was going to read it and so it didn't matter what I said.


message 44: by Pouya (new)

Pouya Etemadi | 10 comments Thank you Emma so much 🙏 these answers are very useful.

Wish you the best


message 45: by Pouya (new)

Pouya Etemadi | 10 comments Very useful.


message 46: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Rebello (AaronRebello) | 7 comments I just downloaded a sample of the book The Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body. Thank you Emma!!


message 47: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 13 comments Thanks so much!!!!!!


message 48: by Seb (new)

Seb (sebalex) Emma wrote: "Dear Our Shared Shelf,

Excited to let you know that Roxane Gay has kindly agreed to answer our questions about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Please post your questions for her in this discussion ..."


Dear Emma,

I'm really happy to be part of this group however I'm very busy with my teaching job. I teach English and I wanted to let you know that I'm going to study the speech you made for your campaign HeforShe with my pupils. Very interesting.
For my final project, they will have to make a speech to support women's rights as you did at the UN.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Seb


message 49: by Vivian (new)

Vivian Dulianel | 4 comments Thank you Emma and Roxane! =)


message 50: by Anshita (new)

Anshita (_book_freak) | 14 comments I feel tremendously honored that Ms. Gay took out time to answer my question among many others. I feel the need to thank Ms. Watson and Ms. Gay and all the moderators of Our Shared Shelf for introducing readers worldwide to interact with such prominent authors. Thank you very much!


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