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a book, film + chit chatty blog

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Hunger by Roxane Gay + the body positive movement


Hunger by Roxane Gay Flat Lay


Where do I even begin with this book? It is honest and raw and gritty and acutely self aware and beautiful. It is all those adjectives to the 100th degree ... and then some. Yes I'm being very extra right now, because even after a month of finishing it, I still can't really articulate/process everything I felt reading this, but I'm really going to try.

Hunger is a memoir of the author's body. At 12 years old, Roxane was gang raped by a group of boys from school. Ashamed, she kept this attack a secret for the best part of thirty years. Life went on and one hand, she prospered in many areas of her life. At the same time, she was going through depression, gaining weight and battling eating disorders.

The book is about how trauma has changed her; how its changed the relationship she has with her body. It's also about how she treats her body, how she nourishes it and how she can be so brutally cruel to it. It's the story of everything her body has gone through. As she puts it, it's also "a confession. These are the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me. This is my truth. This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard."

Roxane Gay's writing, especially in Hunger is so fearless and unflinching and if you've never read anything by her before, treat yo self. Now I'm going to preface this by saying, the body positivity movement is an amazing movement that has really been a source of consolation during some of my darkest days. What I don't see or read a lot of, are accounts that really delve into the darkest parts of ourselves. I guess noone wants to revel in all that negativity. I don't think Roxane Gay "revels" in her struggle. She just digs really deep and explores what feels like every painful nook and cranny of her body image issues and, what it feels like to carry and bare it all. There are a chapters that feel like she's made progress and is feeling better but then; they're followed by chapters that almost seem repetitive, that draw you back into her despair at what she describes as her "unruly" body. Her frustration and exhaustion at her own body is something that leaps of the page and I felt like I was taking on a lot of the emotions as I reading this book.

She also talks about the societal pressure no woman can really escape to be slender and small, petite and dainty, seen not heard and the body being a way of rebelling against this.

Whether I like it or not, my body is so linked to how I see myself. It is the vessel that houses well, me. And while it's pretty hard to see someone talk about their body in the way this book does, we've all been there. The things you say to your body, the way you treat it; I'm not overweight but I do relate to being really cruel to your body. I don't particularly like my body. It's not something I'm really preoccupied with but when I really think about it, I don't think I do like it. I pinch at it, pick at it, peel it, sometimes I deprive it of food and then stuff it with sugar the very next day. And that's quite hard to have to admit to myself and pretty cringe. But, it's also quite sobering.

Narratives that thoroughly acknowledge and reflect on our pain and trauma are just as important and can be just as powerful in challenging us to really see ourselves. In talking to myself the way I do, I feel like I've let myself down. I'm not really sure where I go from here but I am pledging this term (ooo "pledging"look at me) first and foremost to nourish my body properly and not punish it. I did feel as though Roxane Gay is beginning to heal by the very last chapter but it's almost as though she had to go through this process and lay it all out there first. Funnily enough, I did also walk away from this book feeling really empowered. Our bodies are pretty badass; they go through a lot but mine is still fully functioning 🙌, getting me places, keeping me safe and has essentially survived everything I've subjected it to.😂

5/5

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2 comments

  1. I will have to add this to my reading list as I loved Bad Feminist - it sounds like such a good read!

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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