Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body


What is the book Hunger A Memoir of Body about?

Roxane Gay is a beautiful woman weighing 577 pounds (261 kg), which is hard to lose and easy to gain. She decided to document the story of her body: how did it become so, why doesn’t it want or cannot be changed, how do her family and friends perceive her, how the society treats people of her size, and all the other inconveniences and struggles. She stresses that this book is not a story of triumph, where a once fat woman gets back up and becomes a gorgeous lady. Nothing like the reader will see. This is a dark story of addiction written by an addict.

Roxane Gay emphasizes that it was tough to write this book – where she talks about her most vulnerable and painful memories. The things she writes about usually don’t come into public knowledge. She feels like those kinds of stories are ignored, or even made fun of.  Being slim is a standard in a modern society. Overweight people, even with a physical condition, get no sympathy at all. The beauty industry, along with the recent medicine, offers all sorts of ways to lose weight. It’s forced on everyone, whether they want it or not. They get bombarded with the ideas on how their bodies are imperfect and require correction. This may be true, but people with addictions have a complicated relationship with reality.

The honesty of the book is strangely coupled with inconsistencies. The author writes that her body is a cage she’s locked up in. She’s worried that she cannot get out of it, but it’s like she’s almost proud of her position. As a feminist, she won’t be meeting the accepted standards for being beautiful. Roxane feels they should be expanded to include different body types. Her value as a human being may not depend on the size and body weight, although the society keeps on trying to make her hate herself.

However, the body has its truth. It’s very uncomfortable and painful to exist with such weight. It is difficult for her legs to carry so many pounds. Roxane is in constant pain, especially in the lower back, calves, hips, and feet. She has a weak immune system as well as high blood pressure. She describes in detail how she’s sweating, walking slowly, she can’t walk up the stairs with high steps, etc. However, there are no endocrine reasons for her state – she has no diabetes, hypothyroidism, or adrenal tumor, in which case weight loss is almost impossible. Time after time, she pressures herself to get a grip and lose weight, but not for long.

Soon, everything goes back to being normal. She calls herself weak, despises herself – but at the same time, she feels she has the right to live as she wants. These inconsistencies permeate all the memoir of the body, which Roxane Gay calls a crime scene. Once she was a slim, beautiful girl, but when she was 12 years old she fell in love with a boy of her age, and then he and his friends raped her. Ever since then she was eating a lot, just to make the pain go away.

Roxane Gay was born in Haiti, in a family of happy and loving people who paid all the attention to her. When that happened, she didn’t tell her parents – she was ashamed. Soon they moved, and Roxane changed schools, so nobody knew her secret in the new place. But she was continually seeking comfort in food as if she wanted to build a barrier between herself and the men around her, to make her body seem unwanted. At the same time, she wanted to punish herself as a terrible sense of guilt tormented her.

After entering boarding school and leaving her home, she gained so much weight that her family only learned about it after a few months. In boarding school, she was tastily and inexpensively fed. Besides, it was possible to buy a bunch of cheap snacks, so Roxane enjoyed it with entirely. She was lonely – students of a free boarding school were accustomed to the poor black students who were studying at the expense of charities.

It was hard for them to understand that Roxane was from a wealthy Haitian family. She felt herself like a black sheep, eating away her pain even more than before. Her parents started to panic, took her to doctors, tried one method after the other, and they all were working. But as soon as Roxane was away from home, she went back to her old habits. So, her body wasn’t only returning lost pounds but adding new ones. Nevertheless, Roxane studied thoroughly. She had a talent for writing, she liked theater, and she participated in many plays.

The story of rape only recently became known to her parents, thanks to one of the books published by Roxane Gay. She feels it’s essential to share such stories, so those victims would know that they are not alone. You can survive this and become a harmonious and prosperous person. Furthermore, their offenders would also know how serious the consequences of their assault were.

Summary and 10 Ideas of Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Idea №1. Some of the external changes have internal causes.

Idea №2. As long as a person thinks of himself as ugly and inferior, even the most benevolent attitude of people around him will not change his mind.

Idea №3. It’s impossible to be in a harmonious relationship while feeling inferior.

Idea №4. Being under a constant pressure forces a person to act oppositely.

Idea №5. The body of an overweight person is threatened to become the center of the public attention.

Idea №6. Self-discipline is based on rejection, but overweight people are already deprived of many luxuries.

Idea №7. Hatred for the overweight people is encouraged by society; it makes them feel ashamed of themselves.

Idea №8. Slim, normal people can’t understand overweight people.

Idea №9. The more a person weighs, the less his world gets.

Idea №10. In romantic relationships, overweight people are always struggling with self-doubt and the distrust of others.

Review Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

This book is honest and sincere but has a lot of inconsistencies. It could not be otherwise because this book isn’t about the hard life of fat people, but a story of addiction. And the food addiction, the hunger itself, is one of the most sinister obsessions out there. A person who’s an alcoholic – no matter how brave he is saying he’ll stop at any moment – deep in his heart he understands that he’s falling into the abyss, and the only way out is the complete reject of alcohol. But no one can reject food; it is a fundamental human need. And to completely control its ingredients and the amounts of its consumption is much more difficult than it seems in the first place. A smoker either smokes, or he does not. But having the same with food is pretty much impossible. People on a diet are every day tempted to eat a little bit more, and then they’re always trying to start again. You can only sympathize with Roxane Gay; she has to stay strong if she wants to get rid of her addiction.

You can blame her for wanting too much from others. No airline would be willing to develop unique chairs for overweight people; no doctor would keep his silence on the toll your health takes because of obesity. Otherwise, they’d merely neglect their medical duty. The world won’t bend itself just like that.

But thanks to the book, readers are going to understand people who are addicted much better. Roxane Gay is suffering from the pain and imperfection her body causes, but she doesn’t have the strength to change it. Yes, the book’s critics note that the author is looking for reasons why in wrong places, in the world around her. But perhaps, it is the very nature of any addiction.

Pros and Cons:

  • The true story of addiction; a lot of ideas making you think about the nature of addiction, and perhaps, they’ll help someone see themselves and others for what they are.
  • Some critics note that the author often contradicts herself.

Author Roxane Gay

Author of the book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyRoxane Gay (born October 28, 1974) – American writer, professor, editor, and commentator. She is the author of the best-selling New York Times lousy feminist, as well as the collection of short stories Aichi (2011), the novel The Reckless State (2014), the collection of short stories The Difficult Women (2017), and Memoir Hunger (2017).

Gay is an assistant professor of English at Purdue University, creating a writer-writer in the New York Times, the founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, editor of the essay for The Rumpus and co-editor of PANK, a non-profit literary group

After completing her Ph.D., Gay began her academic career as a teacher in the fall of 2010 at the University of Eastern Illinois, where she was an assistant professor of English. While at the EIU, in addition to her teaching duties, she was editor of the magazine for Bluestem, and also founded the Tiny Hardcore Press. Gay worked at the University of Eastern Illinois until the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, finding a job in August 2014 at Purdue University as an assistant professor of creative writing.

He published a short story short story “Aichi” (2011), then two books in 2014: the novel “The Reckless State” and an essay collection “The Bad Feminist” (2014),  leading one reviewer of the magazine “Time” to state: “Let this be the year of Roxane Gay.”  The review noted her inclusive style: “A gay letter is simple and direct, but never cold or sterile. It directly poses complex problems of identity and privilege, but it is always accessible and perceptive. “


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