Hunger by Roxane Gay is a touching story on how the author’s life changed following a traumatic rape.
- Obesity is not always about eating too much but about psychological problems
- Society is always trying to have people “fit in” in the social norms
- We could all stand to gain from a little bit more empathy
Overeating As Escapism
Roxane’s boyfriend raped her with a group of friends. The event was traumatic for Roxane. She was raised a catholic and since she had already had sex with her boyfriend she interpreted the rape as a deserved punishment.
She never talked about the event with anyone, but looked for temporary solace in food.
Size as Power
When she was sent to a boarding school away from her parents, Roxane could eat as much a she wanted. But eating wasn’t just escapism. She started equating bigger size with less vulnerability: the bigger she was, the less likely an attack would be.
It’s not about sheer power though. It’s because she knew that overweight women weren’t the most desirable, and that made her invisible to would be attackers.
Roxane saw herself as a “ruined” woman, with extremely low self esteem. She couldn’t keep up the image of a woman with a bright future at Yale, which she quickly dropped out to go live with a man she had met online.
Her relationships were emotionally and physically abusive, reflecting the image she had of herself.
She fell into a patter of trying to win other people’s affection, feeling lucky they would even date her.
Roxane’s relationships made her feel terrible, but she couldn’t detach. She wished she was gay, as she felt women were less abusive.
She did try women as well, but her self-styled image of the victim never allowed her to enjoy healthy relationships.
Society Misunderstands Obesity
Roxane also reflect on how obese people live in an unfriendly, often un-empathetic society. She talks about the normal reaction of every day people around obesity.
It happened to her random people took some items out of her shopping cart saying she shouldn’t eat that. Those people equated obesity with stupidity and ignorance, which was not the case.
And TV shows revel in seeing fat people sweating it out to lose weight to finally become “acceptable”.
But few stop to wonder why they got obese in the first place. And often it’s not about simply eating too much but there are underlying psychological issues.
Losing Weight for The Right Reasons
Roxane struggles with losing weight for the inner fear that kicks in any time she drops a few kilos. She does want to lose weight, but at the same time also wants to carry on her fight for a more accepting society.
People should lose weight, but for good health reasons, not because society imposes the ideal of thin people.
Real Life Applications
Come Out With Your Hurt
Trying to forget your traumas will rarely help. Much better to accepting them, being open about them and air them.
Verry vulnerable, very touching book. The author opens up to reveal her whole -sometimes troubled- soul.
Definitely a book that will involve your feelings.
Hunger is a touching, compelling story of what an act of violence and the subsequent trauma can do to wreck the psychology of a young person.
I couldn’t help but brew anger towards the rapists. And at the same time I couldn’t help but being compassionate towards Roxane Gay.
Hunger is also a reflection and a “day in life of” of an obese person. Very interesting both for practical understanding and for psychological understanding.
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