Hunger by Roxane Gay [Book Summary – Review]

There are many autobiographies available, but only a handful convey the narrative Roxane Gay intends you to hear. It’s not a pleasant story, but it’s one that must be told. Since the reality is, Dr. Gay isn’t the only one who has used unhealthy coping mechanisms to cope with a horrific incident.

In reality, the numbers are clear: The United States is grappling with obesity, and if more people listen to Roxane, we could have a better grasp of why all those diet and exercise trends aren’t working. We need some more open minds and souls, and this narrative can help us accomplish that by challenging us to comprehend Roxane’s experience without judgment.

In the following chapters, you’ll learn:

  • how a terrible incident may cause years of misery; and
  • In what way The Biggest Loser’s nature is exploitative.

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Chapter 1: Roxane Gay’s life was turned upside down by a violent and terrible occurrence.

Roxane Gay was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to a family of Haitian-Americans. Roxane was reared as a devout Catholic who felt that if she performed well in school, she might become a well-respected doctor.

What she didn’t anticipate was a horrific act of violence to disrupt her goals and send her on entirely another path.

Roxane was raped by her boyfriend and a gang of other local adolescents while she was just 12 years old. The incident was terrible on several levels: because Roxane had already been intimate with this guy, she felt a deep sense of shame, as if the attack was her responsibility for rejecting her Catholic upbringing’s ideals. She couldn’t face the notion of informing her parents about the rape as a result.

As a result, she kept it to herself and tried to bury the truth even deeper by eating.

Roxane was moved to a renowned private school a year after the incident, where she could eat as many as she wanted far from her parents’ prying eyes. Food wasn’t only a method to punish her body in her thoughts; she believed that the more she ate, the bigger she’d become and therefore the less vulnerable she’d become to another assault.

Roxane was mature enough to see that society does not consider obese women attractive. As she gained weight, a part of her realized she was becoming physically invisible to predatory males.

Roxane carried on playing the role of the dutiful Catholic girl who was supposed to become a doctor for a long, and her high grades landed her into Yale University’s pre-med program. She couldn’t keep up the act any longer as she entered her junior year, so she quit out and moved in with a possible boyfriend she found on the web.

Roxane felt compelled to ignore the truth of who she saw herself as now: a totally destroyed person at Yale. She couldn’t take it any longer and be ready to embark on a new chapter in which she would be treated as badly as she felt.

Chapter 2: Roxane went into a pattern of violent relationships as a result of her remorse and humiliation.

Roxane Gay started a series of relationships after dropping out of medical school with people who were prepared to treat her in a way that fit her obnoxious ego.

These individuals were physically as well as emotionally aggressive.

Roxane sought out physical violence, especially when she was in her twenties since she believed her body had already been damaged during the attack, so why bother defending it? She already felt useless, so it was only natural that the men and women she was with treated her badly. It also validated her own self-abuse, which she fueled by consuming as much junk food as possible.

Roxane would get into a loop of attempting to gain the other person’s favor – feeling so fortunate that they’d even consider dating her – only to be continuously ridiculed and disrespected in her relationships. She once tried to impress a partner by going to a department store’s cosmetics counter and getting herself professionally made-up, but all she received in return was a mockery. She still hates wearing cosmetics because she felt so bad.

Roxane began to wish she was homosexual so she would then have to deal with women, whom she believed were less likely to be abusive. Roxane discovered she was bisexual as a result of her experiences, but the ladies she dated just weren’t able to fulfill her emotional requirements at the time. So she couldn’t deny that she had a strong attraction to males.

Her interactions, whether it be with men or women, were full of drama, and the only part she knew how to play would be that of the victim. As a result, relationships repeatedly followed the same terrible cycle.

Her boyfriends weren’t the only ones that mistreated her. There have also been a number of strangers who have contributed to her anguish.

Chapter 3 – Society is unconcerned about the lives of people who are obese or the psychology of obesity.

Despite widespread worry about an obesity crisis in the United States, few individuals make an attempt to sympathize with obese people.

Roxane Gay usually tries to take up as little room as possible when she leaves her house. People she encounters, on the other hand, do not view her as someone who is simply trying to get on with her day. They perceive her as a chubby woman who is taking up too much of their valuable real estate.

Roxane is made to feel as though she is demanding wherever she goes. Firms and public transit lack adequate seating, and less clothing is tailored to her body shape. She is constantly concerned that the chairs will have armrests, making them too small when she goes out to eat. Even though the seats don’t have armrests, Roxane is known for lingering around the edge of her chair throughout meals, fearful that if she leans back, it won’t be robust enough.

The first and only time an overweight person gets noticed in public is when they are being chastised. She’s been told again and over that if she wants to be accepted, she needs to change.

People are encouraged to do whatever is necessary to lose weight on popular reality shows like The Biggest Loser. However, while the competitors on this program are forced to compete to see who can shed the most weight in order to earn a reward, no one ever considers the underlying causes of their weight gain. Rather, viewers like witnessing obese individuals being forced to work out until they puke and collapse, all in the name of conforming to society’s ideal body image.

Obesity isn’t merely a result of eating too much food. All of that weight increase is frequently due to complicated emotional causes. It’s not as easy as flicking a switch and taking back control of something that has been out of control for a long time.

Chapter 4 – It’s difficult to avoid the embarrassment and abuse that obesity brings.

While gaining weight was intended to make Roxane Gay invisible to sexual predators, it had the unintended consequence of drawing unwelcome attention to her in other areas.

The way total strangers use her weight as a reason to intervene in her life and make decisions for her has been extremely embarrassing.

Strangers have grabbed food from her shopping cart and told her she shouldn’t be eating it. Roxane recognizes that people instinctively associate fat with ignorance, which they believe gives them the right to intervene and try to manage an adult’s life.

A distinct type of public shaming occurred in front of a live crowd at a literature session.

All of the other contestants effortlessly ascended onto a low stage that didn’t have any steps to help them climb it at the start of the event. Roxane battled for five painful minutes to go on stage, while the rest of the contestants awkwardly watched her. The humiliations didn’t stop once they were on stage. She sensed the chair break under her weight as she sat down, and she became nauseated as she realized she would be crouching for the next two hours.

As you might imagine, being overweight has attracted more attention to Roxane than she prefers, but being African and obese has made it much more difficult for her to blend in.

As an adult, Roxane decided to reside in small communities. This has allowed me to have more solitude while also avoiding the pressures that a major metropolis may put on a woman to be attractive. Small midwestern towns, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly white, making her more conspicuous and vulnerable to racial profiling and harassment.

Roxane has still yet to find the right setting in all of her efforts to blend in, but she has discovered a method to treat herself in a kinder constructive light, which we’ll look at in the last chapter.

Chapter 5: Roxane works on embracing her history and treating herself with greater care.

Roxane Gay is frequently frustrated by two sorts of dissatisfaction these days. The first is aimed at herself for her inability to manage her weight, while the second is directed at society for prescribing how she should appear.

However, in the midst of all of this, Roxane discovers that she can be good to herself.

When she discovered healthy strategies to reduce weight, she took a major step in the right direction. Roxane had been bingeing and purging for several years, eating a lot and then spitting it up, a condition known as bulimia. And nowadays she eats less junk food and prepares more healthful meals at home.

She’s also trying to improve her connection with her family, who are all very sporty and classically attractive, and who are always pressuring her to lose some weight and be healthy. Although it’s never easy to steer the subject away from Roxane’s body, their care makes her feel appreciated. However, their refusal to accept her for who she is might make her feel even more alone.

Roxane recognizes that her difficulty stems from the fact that reducing weight reawakens the same concerns that drove her to overeat in the very first place.

Roxane would like to be able to wear anything she wanted and not have trouble breathing or walking. When she loses a few pounds, though, the fear of losing her protection sets in, and the weight creeps back on. In the end, she is aware of this mentality and is striving to eliminate the need for that level of protection.

Roxane, on the other hand, is concerned about losing weight for a reason. Part of her wants to shift society’s attitude toward body politics and show other women that happiness isn’t always determined by your dress size.

Although her internal turmoil, Roxane recognizes that one cannot escape one’s past, and she accepts that her past is a part of who she is now. She wants people who have had horrific experiences to realize that it’s okay to be at peace with themselves.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay Book Review

Nobody needs or deserves to be regarded as a second-class citizen simply because they are overweight. If someone is obese, it’s likely that they have an unhealthy connection with food and their bodies as a result of mental strain or even trauma. For a just world, society would be aware of this truth and would not make people feel inferior or ashamed, therefore making life more difficult for them.

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