Hunger by Roxanne Gay
For most of her life, Roxanne has been fat. There was a time when she knew what a normal weight felt like, but that was many years ago. Now, the majority of Roxanne’s life has been experienced through the lens of obesity.
There are so many who might look at Roxanne and assume that she is stupid or lazy, which are two common assumptions about anyone who is even remotely overweight. Why can’t they just put down the fork? Why can’t they just put down the spoon?
In reality, weight is a much more complex subject than many people naturally on the thinner side just can’t seem to understand. People gain weight for different reasons, some of which are much more complicated than too many chips.
When Roxanne was twelve, she was raped by someone she knew and trusted. It goes without saying that this was a traumatic experience, as it would be for anyone who found themselves in Roxanne’s position. She did not feel that she could tell her parents or her family. So she did the best she could to cope with the rape on her own. She started eating.
She ate not because she liked ice cream, cookies, and pizza, but because she was trying to hide. She was trying to protect herself from a world that would continue to harm her.
Roxanne gained hundreds of pounds. This did not stop her from pursing education and even getting a doctorate. This did not stop her from having relationships. This did not stop her from loving her family and experiencing the world. While Roxanne’s weight has not stopped her from becoming a best-selling author, it has hampered her life in many, many ways all because she was trying to protect herself, to make herself less of a target for crimes against women.
What I liked
Roxanne’s story is not pleasant, but it is necessary. It’s so raw. Roxanne is very real about her struggles. We need people who are real about the struggles of being morbidly overweight, but also about how they got that way and the why of how they got that way.
What I didn’t like
Roxanne’s story makes my heart hurt. It’s so difficult to process that a friend raped her, then left her to deal with the emotional healing alone. Roxanne’s approach to healing left her life a mess. The guy got to go on and have a normal life. Rape, guys, rape–this guy got to just float through life as if he had done nothing wrong–this happens every day.
The fact that women are such targets is very concerning. It should be. I have recently lost quite a bit of weight. I have concerns that by losing weight I’ve made myself more of a target to rapists or muggers. Roxanne’s story is scary; it should be.
Hunger can be fueled by more than just a grumbling stomach.
If you have ever gained a significant amount of weight, do you think it was caused by more than just eating too much?
Have you ever used your body’s size or a perceived bodily flaw to protect yourself from the world?