Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay
One-sentence summary of Hunger:
Roxane Gay writes about her life as a person of size and the brutal gang rape that began the hate affair with her own body.
Roxane Gay is hungry.
To say sheâ€™s hungry for food would be shortsighted.
Gay does hunger for the numbing comfort that food provides. But she also hungers for the padding that creates a barrier around her body.
She hungers for the girl she was before being attacked. She hungers for loving physical touch while dreading it at the same time. She hungers for respect and sensitivity. She hungers to be the person she is without it being a spectacle.
This is my first time to read Roxane Gay. Her books have long been on my to-be-read list. Now that Iâ€™ve read this, Iâ€™m hungry for more.
She offers insight to the mediaâ€™s relationship to fat, with The Biggest Loserâ€™s dangerous weight-loss practices and Oprahâ€™s WeightWatchers yawp of â€œI love chiiiiiiips!â€ The public/media often has a confusing attitude towards fat. They/we can tolerate fat by making it a problem to be solved, sometimes violently as in the case of Biggest Loser, where trainers scream â€œdiiiiiiiig!â€ at people on the treadmill for maybe the first time in years, trying not to pass out from fatigue.
During the fat-solving process, there can seem to be this underlying feeling that people should feel ashamed of being fat, but also empowered at having better lives when they become skinny. Never mind any underlying psychological issues that may or may not exist and would still be present regardless of body size.
And donâ€™t forget the shame. Above all, through all of that empowerment, there must still be shame at the amount of fat, shame at the lack of self-control, shame at taking up more space than one should. (cue the Game of Thrones lady in the public square ringing the bell and chanting, â€œShame. Shame Shame.â€)
Itâ€™s silly. A personâ€™s body is his or her body. It shouldnâ€™t be a vessel of shame.
Gay makes herself vulnerable for us in Hunger.
She lays out her innermost feelings, fears, and regrets. She shows us her weakness. I feel that I know her intimately through this book, and not at all. There are oceans inside her.
Itâ€™s an interesting concept, vulnerability. Roxane Gay is a noted feminist. Thereâ€™s a misconception that to be feminist, one must be a strong female, never showing weakness.
But Gay shows another side. Yes, the strong female validation still stands, but she shows a side where a woman can be vulnerable, standing naked in her shortcomings and admitting that she has been victimized, and still be worthy of love, equal respect, and acceptance.
The hero doesnâ€™t alway have to wear a cape. Or be a hero. Sometimes, the hero can just be a person like the rest of us; sometimes brilliant, sometimes brave, and sometimes scared. That doesnâ€™t make him or her lesser than.
By showing us her vulnerabilities, Roxane Gay is powerfully strong.
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
[…] Hunger by Roxane Gay. Roxane Gay, the famed feminist writer, tells us about the brutal gang rape that began her unhealthy relationship with food and her body. […]