A good many fat-girl memoirs have hit store shelves in the last few years, including Jes Baker's Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and Brittany Gibbons' Fat Girl Walking. Now we've got Roxane Gay's memoir, Hunger, to look forward to in Summer 2016. Pull out your TBR lists, because this book is the body-positive journey everyone should read.
First off, I'm pretty much convinced that Roxane Gay is secretly Wonder Woman. She's one of the founding editors of PANK, a contributing editor at Literary Hub, and the "runner" of The Butter. In 2014, she published two acclaimed books: Bad Feminist and An Untamed State. So it's no real surprise that Gay won PEN Center USA's Freedom to Write award in 2015, because, oh by the way:
she fights for women, for the LGBT community, people of colour and anyone else who’s disenfranchised, who’s made to feel weak or small, and does so with passion and dedication.
If that weren't enough — and it isn't — Gay has even more great stuff lined up for 2016 and 2017. There is, of course, her memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, which we'll talk more about in just a minute. But she's also got a second novel forthcoming, The Year I Learned Everything, and her essays will be featured in Kelly Jensen's anthology, Feminism for the Real World — both coming in 2017.
Seriously, is there anything she can't do?
With all of these accolades, it may seem odd that Gay kicks off her memoir by saying, "This is not a book about triumph." Wait, what? She clarifies: "I started this book fat, and I’m finishing it fat ... This isn’t a book about successful weight loss."
Some may take issue with Gay's conflation of "triumph" and "weight loss." You're right; those two things are not the same. However, society at large treats getting fat and continuing to be fat as personal failures. Why else do we have shows like The Biggest Loser, which promote unhealthy weight loss and dangerous exercise as the boot camp people of size need to kick us in our big, fat asses?
Gay practices self-care by "cooking healthier meals [and] by accepting her body as something that’s worthy of love." It helps, but it doesn't change the fact that she, as a woman of size, must navigate a world that is not made to welcome her. In her interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gay says:
The bigger you get, the smaller the world becomes, because there are fewer places where you can feel comfortable ... You start to research restaurants to see if the chairs will accommodate you. You stop going to the movies or the beauty salon. Soon, you realize that the whole world might be your apartment, because there’s no room for you out in the world.
Gay's journey isn't about trying to lose weight. Instead, she's "trying to change [her] relationship with food." Fatphobic comments from others hurt, but they also fuel her fire. Hunger is part of her mission to "take control of the narrative — and of [her] body" by not letting fat-shamers direct the conversation.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body is available for preorder now. Gay's memoir is scheduled for a June 14 release.