Every person in the world has a different relationship with their body, ranging from the most confident and self-loving to a toxic and painful relationship. As we age, our relationships with our bodies also change, from trying to be “healthy” or developing an illness or strengthening our perception of our bodies, this relationship is dynamic and can make us or break us. Of course, this does not happen in a vacuum, in fact, our perception of our bodies is formed from the moment we are born. We are determined to be of a certain sex, which then leads people to expect certain gender expressions, from the clothes we wear to what our bodies are supposed to look like. In Hunger, Roxane Gay tells us the story of her body, from her birth, her childhood, teenage years, all the way to her 40s.
Gay’s body has endured social expectations, trauma (both physical and emotional), and her journey has not been easy in the least. The world is not compassionate towards fat people, especially fat women. Women are expected to look pleasant for society to look at, like a nice painting or a bouquet of flowers. But we are not inanimate objects, we are people and we deserve respect and the ability to take up space without feeling like we shouldn’t.
I listened to this book, which is narrated by Gay herself and it really added to the experience to hear about her life right from the source. There is an emotional rawness in her voice as she talks about the trauma that she experienced, and continues to experience, that is very difficult to ignore. She is at her most vulnerable and it’s both heartbreaking and it also made me think about how so many people (including myself) change how they treat their bodies because they are afraid to just express themselves in their body as they are.
This is not an easy book to read or listen to but it is a very valuable book that I am glad Gay was able to write. I’d recommend it; listen and/or read with an open heart.