The Atlantic

The Boldness of Roxane Gay’s Hunger

In her moving new memoir, the writer explores desire, denial, and life in an “unruly body.”
Source: HarperCollins / Paul Spella / The Atlantic

What is often deemed the most intoxicating part of weight-loss stories is the moment of triumph. Think, confetti showering the winning contestant on a reality show, a newly svelte celebrity swimming inside their “fat jeans, or Oprah underscoring in a Weight Watchers ad that she can, in fact, eat bread every day. At a time when there is no shortage of recommendations for women on how to discipline or make peace with their bodies, Roxane Gay’s book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, stands out precisely because she begins it by declaring that she hasn’t overcome her “unruly body and unruly appetites.”

Hunger is about weight gained and lost and gained—at her heaviest Gay weighed 577 pounds. It’s also about so much more: the body she built to shield herself from the contempt of men and her own sense of shame, her complex relationship with parents who took great interest in solving her weight “problem,” and what it has meant for her to be highly

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