Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay Offers Us a Difficult Memoir: Her Body’s

Hunger, by Roxane GayRoxane Gay has given us a fabulous gift: the memoir of her body, titled Hunger. It took her through some difficult memories, just as it will take you there if you choose to read it. Gay told the Washington Post:

I’d wanted to write about fat for a while, and I didn’t quite know how. And then I started to think, “Well, what would it be like to write a memoir of my body?”

When you’re fat, your body is not a secret, but you still hold on to secrets; you pretend, of course, that people don’t see you the way you know they see you. And so to expose myself and this history of my body . . . it’s not something I took any pleasure in.

An Account of Trauma and Resilience

Gay tells about being lured to a cabin and raped when she was 12. The perpetrator was a boy she knew and had liked. A group of his friends participated. She writes:

They did things I’ve never been able to talk about, and will never be able to talk about. Those boys treated me like nothing so I became nothing.

She told no one for years. Her parents had no idea what was happening within Gay as she gained weight after the trauma:

They knew nothing of my determination to keep making my body into what I needed it to be — a safe harbor rather than a small, weak vessel that betrayed me.

Candor Carries a High Price

When anyone is honest about living with a big body, trolls come out. They feel some sort of special permission when the subject is obesity. Last week, the Australian website Mamamia published a podcast that described “a logistical nightmare” of arranging to interview such a large woman as Gay. They labeled her as “super morbidly obese.”

Exposing their own ignorance when called out for rude cruelty, Mamamia published an absurd non-apology that said “In no way did Mamamia ever intend to make Roxane Gay feel disrespected.”

And so it is that people forget to respect others who are living in big bodies. Empathy fails them. Too many of us are not ready to accept and respect people as they are.

Wholeheartedly, we recommend this book. Every life is different. Obesity is visible, but its causes are not. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you do not know.

Click here to read more in the Washington Post and here to read more from the New York Times.

Roxane Gay, photograph © TED Conference / flickr

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June 18, 2017

One Response to “Roxane Gay Offers Us a Difficult Memoir: Her Body’s”

  1. June 21, 2017 at 9:40 am, Allen Browne said:

    Ted,

    Thank you. Another phrase to remember – Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you do not know.”