Most women change their eating habits to lose weight. Roxane Gay, author of the powerful new memoir Hunger, did just the opposite.
Gay, a writer, cultural critic and essential Twitter follow, writes here with unflinching honesty about her relationship with her body leading up to, during and after a violent childhood sexual assault at the hands of her then-boyfriend and his friends. Twelve at the time, the smart and well-behaved daughter of Haitian immigrants kept her assault to herself for more than 20 years. Instead of getting help from others, she began eating, in the hopes that making her body bigger would keep her safe.
As a super morbidly obese woman (that’s the medical term, FYI), Gay is blunt about the depths of the pain caused not only by her assault but by her size in a world that values thinness. From the travesty that is clothes shopping (she distinguishes between “Lane Bryant” fat and being so big, you can’t shop in stores) to everyday injustices (like when a man on a plane told the flight attendant he didn’t think she could handle the responsibilities of an exit row), Gay’s book—a collection of essays—is intensely moving and occasionally devastating.
Think it sounds intense? It is. But it’s also super worth it. And if you need a palate cleanser when you’re done, there’s always Gay’s incredible review of the second Magic Mike movie.