Roxane Gay’s Memoir: Journey into Obesity - Diverse Health

Higher Education News and Jobs

Roxane Gay’s Memoir: Journey into Obesity

Email
   
        


by Ann Levin, Associated Press

At her heaviest, Roxane Gay weighed 577 pounds. In her powerful, at times harrowing, new memoir, “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” Gay explains how she got that way and what it’s like to live “trapped in a cage.”

It’s the story of a “carefree young girl … who felt safe in her body” until she was “gang-raped by a boy I thought I loved and a group of his friends.” Then she “ate and ate and ate to build my body into a fortress,” which comforted her in the moment but failed to address “this cavern of loneliness inside me that I have spent my whole life trying to fill.”

While sketching the broad outlines of her life, Gay, who is now in her early 40s, also delivers a fierce polemic about what it means to live in a morbidly obese black body in a society that worships thinness, whiteness and fitness, especially for women.

A novelist, cultural critic and professor best known for the 2014 essay collection “Bad Feminist,” Gay has a vivid, telegraphic writing style, which serves her well. Repetitive and recursive, it propels the reader forward with unstoppable force even though we know there will be no conventionally happy ending.

“This is not a weight-loss memoir,” she warns readers at the outset. “I don’t have any powerful insight into what it takes to overcome an unruly body and unruly appetites.” What she has is insight aplenty about culture and society, particularly the medical establishment, which she blasts for treating fatness as pathological, and the fashion/entertainment industry, which rakes in big bucks by making women feel insecure about their looks.

“Does anyone feel comfortable in their bodies?” she muses at the end. “Glossy magazines lead me to believe that this is a rare experience, indeed. … Every woman I know is on a perpetual diet.”

 

Comments

Print Friendly

Related Articles

Addressing Indian Health Disparities: Q&A Donald Warne, MD, MPH, is the chair of the Department of Public Health at North Dakota State University and an adjunct clinical professor at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, where he taught American Indian Health Polic...
Organ Donors Save Lives in Indian Country More than 1,100 American Indians and Alaska Natives are waiting for someone to donate the organ that will save their lives. Most—986—are waiting for a kidney, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Organ Procurement and Transp...
Women in Military Face Health Risks As more women join the military in ever-expanding roles, it’s important for health care providers to understand the different health needs and risks associated with their service, health care specialists told about 50 providers from eastern North Car...
Transgender Teens at High Risk of Substance Abuse A new study from Chapman University has found that transgender teenagers are twice as likely as their cisgender peers to have substance abuse problems. The study, published in the Journal of School Health, looked at data concerning trans students ...