Hunger: A memoir of (my) body by Roxane Gay
Hunger: A memoir of (my) body by Roxane Gay is an opinionated and important read. I started it on the final leg of my flight yesterday, finishing its last 100 pages this morning and reading some of it out loud to family. Gay's story, reflection and vulnerability shed unique and relatable light on the subjugation of one's body and the denial we impose on it, in our searches for (th)inner peace and thinspiration. She does this boldly and courageously by putting her body at the forefront of this piece, despite the painful publicness her body has received in the media and in her life long before that. She raises the questions: What right is it for you to cast judgment on my body? And look at how your judgment has impacted how I have judged myself?
I empathized deeply for Gay in each of her short but deep revelations: of her rape, of her isolation from friends, family and lovers, of her dichotomous visibility and invisibility, of the public domain of her body, of her body as a fortress for safekeeping, of the boundaries of her body, of her tattoos as a way of controlling her body, of her struggle to diet and exercise, of her self-loathing, of her bulimia, of her brokenness. Of her hope, of her discoveries, of her worth.
This book makes the statement: Before you decide what my body is, let me show you it from inside its experiences. Look how I have hungered - for healing, for safety, for food, for love, for acceptance, for success. And Gay requires us to question why we link happiness so inextricably with thinness, buying into the Biggest Loser and a number of other body propaganda. I thought throughout this book not only of the many times I have tied my own worth and esteem to my body - how I viewed it and how others viewed it - but also how many times over the course of my life I have made someone else's body the subject of conversation, or participated in such discourse at least. None of it sits well. None of it is okay.
Gay has taken the bold decision to articulate this, not only on her behalf, but on the behalf of so many others who fear to speak up, who find a way of shelling themselves up in isolated lives of their own for protection. Beyond her coldness is warmth. Beyond the fears of her worthlessness are the fruits of her worth. Hunger is one among many of them.