“Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” by Roxane Gay

Trigger Warning: this post will have a frank discussion of sexual assault & mental health. please take care of yourself first. 

This book, man. Roxane Gay is something else. I’ve read three of her four books now and to say I’m obsessed is an understatement. Her work is beyond powerful and more importantly, it’s relatable to those questioning feminism, how they personally react to their own trauma, and how things can often have lasting effects on us long after the fact.

When Roxane Gay was not even a teen yet, she was brutally gang-raped and left for dead. This book details her journey trying to come to terms with this assault and gaining a few hundred pounds to protect herself and to “build a fortress” around herself as well. Because of her immense weight gain, she details how not only does she have to deal with mental repercussions after the attack but she also has to figure out how to fit into society at the size she’s at. She struggles with if she even deserves to take up space and with losing all the weight while still maintaining some sort of self-protection.

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Going thru trauma breaks you in a way most people who haven’t been thru it don’t fully understand. Trauma messes with you in ways you don’t even expect and it can often have lasting effects — especially if the trauma stems from sexual intimacy. And it manifests in ways that force you to deal with it eventually as well as leaks into parts of your life you don’t know until you’re neck deep. It sucks and I related to this book more so than I thought I would. My story differs from Gay’s as I’m sure many do. But some overarching themes like trying to find personal security after being ripped open, self-medicating, and finding ways to still love yourself were unfortunately similar.

What Hunger taught me is that trauma has lasting effects and that it’s okay to fail sometimes. That sometimes learning how to take care of yourself takes a bit (or a lot) longer than you expected. That even with all the ‘even thoughs’, you still deserve to take up space, you still deserve to be here, and that you deserve to be taken care of. This book was a hard read because it made me take a hard look at myself, to see what I’m doing that may be self-sabotaging, and that I can still fix it.

I’ll also be recording a vlog about this book later today and will post that once completed as well! Let me know what you’d like me to address as well.

What are some healthy ways that you’ve dealt with traumatic events and how do you still take care of yourself?

Favourite Quote: One of my biggest fears is that I will never cut away all that scar tissue. One of my biggest hopes is that one day, I will have cut away most of that scar tissue” 

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Recently, I joined a long distance book club and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And, to be honest, I forgot about it until a college friend messaged me for my address so she could send it to me. And finding out that Bad Feminist was the book, I was excited, but nervous. I’ve always wanted to read it but I hadn’t gotten around to buying it yet.

This book is riveting, but not in the way you might thing. It’s riveting because it makes sense. And it hits home. It reminds you what it’s like to be a woman today and how so many of us are still struggling with the feminist label-especially with such a media storm of building it into something it just plain isn’t.

I recently saw something on Facebook that said “Equality is about giving everyone an equal chance, not equal results”. And that took me by surprise because we’re so used to hearing equality being “we want this, this, and this because they have that, that, and that” when it seems to come down to just having a chance to get there, to get those same results given you put in the work. And Bad Feminist  reminds us that we all sometimes stumble about, especially in the realm of equality.

What I think I liked most about this book though is more than just the fact that it’s compelling or relatable or puts my struggles into words. I liked the fact that it catered to the person who struggles with feminism but agrees with most every facet of it. It breaks it down into something basic and understandable. It makes it an actual concrete ideal rather than some abstract idea you can’t quite wrap your head around.

Everyone should pick this book up as it really should be required reading. It’s not the most spellbinding. It’s heartwrenching, infomative, and makes you think-a lot. And it’s not an easy read. But I rather think that’s what makes this book so important.

4.9/5

Favourite Quote: I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect….I am just trying-trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world with my writing while also being myself: a woman who loves pink and likes to get freaky and sometimes dances her ass off to music to music she knows, she knows, is terrible for women and who sometimes plays dumb with repairmen because it’s just easier to let them feel macho than it is to stand on the moral high ground. 

Just because you survive something doesn’t mean you’re strong.