This is not a conventional book review. This is purely my reaction to ‘Hunger’ by Roxanne Gay. Just a prewarning, I will include some “spoilers”. I promise, they will not ruin the book.
Gay does not try to empower you. She is just honest.
Sadly, Gay was a victim of gang rape when she was only 12 years old. As a child, Gay believed that in a fatphobic and cruel society, she could protect herself from future sexual assault by building a fortress of fat. In doing so, she believed she was making herself undesirable to men. It breaks my heart that even as children, we feel this way. Unfortunately, this left her vulnerable to abuse from her parents, health care professionals, flight attendants, future partners, and angry people on the internet.
My most prominent emotion whilst reading Hunger was anger. Why are we as a society conditioned to only care for victims if they look a certain way? Why are we so quick to disregard larger bodies as just “fat” and “lazy”?
I felt humbled by the vulnerability in her writing.
Prior to Hunger, I read ‘Fattily Ever After’ by Stephanie Yeboah. Both books made me re-evaluate my relationship with my body. I used to pity myself because of my size. These books forced me to confront the fact that, as a mid-sized white woman, I am extremely privileged. Yes, it is awful that I have absorbed the toxic messaging that “slimmer is better”. However, beating yourself up for not being a size 8 cannot be compared to being discriminated against due to your size. I cannot imagine what it is like to in a world that just isn’t built for you.
Nevertheless, I felt seen by Gay. I too have felt too uncomfortable to eat unhealthy food in public through fear of being judged; relied on food for comfort; set unrealistic weight loss goals and cried myself to sleep. I too have felt frustrated by my “lack of self-control” as it prevented the development of a restrictive eating disorder. How fucked up is that?
Gay does not practice body positivity. She barely practices self-acceptance.
Hunger emphasises that taking your feelings out on your body is normal. You are not a failure. Sometimes, this reaction is necessary to survive. Gay also proves that your worth is not determined by your size. Despite being over 200lbs heavier than me, Gay has positively impacted the lives of so many. I aspire to live a life even half as worthwhile as hers.
If anyone has read it, please let me know what you thought in the comments! I would also really appreciate more book recommendations 😊