Hunger by Roxane Gay was the first audiobook I purchased for my then-new Audible subscription. I chose this book for a few reasons:
- Word on the street was that it was an important and powerful read
- The author is known for her spot-on observations, quick wit, and beautifully rendered prose
- Because I have lived in a bigger body
- Because I work at Walden, and love to take my work home with me
- People kept mentioning it to me, probably because of reasons #3 and #4
In case you are pressed for time, I will keep this short and sweet: Hunger is worth the investment of time, even though it is a hard book to read – hard in the ways you would expect when written by an “intersectional” and marginalized woman.
I was at once filled up and emptied out by its strikingly candid and intensely personal passages.
It isn’t that Roxane Gay is telling us something we don’t already know – being a fat, African American, feminist, lesbian woman in Western culture in the 21 st Century is hard. It’s hard to be overlooked, discounted, harassed, and shamed. It is hard living in a world that feels ‘too small’ for your body.
So many of us at Walden have read books about the connection between weight stigma, Binge Eating Disorder, and poor body image with diet culture, trauma, Photoshop, and the evils of “The Patriarchy.” Many of us have read books that, through their author’s anger, have called us into action. Believe me when I tell you that I have learned a lot from those types of books. They have shown me where I can effect change.
This is not one of those books.
Roxane Gay tells her story quietly, and lets you find your own outrage. She lets the reader connect their own dots.
If I were allowed only one word to describe this book, I would choose honest. This book is brutally honest – honest about the trauma of assault, the satisfactions of professional success and the highs and lows of sex and relationships. All of these honest lived experiences are told through the context of her large, dark-skinned, female-loving body.
It is as compelling as it is devastating; and it is beautiful.
Through Hunger, Roxane Gay gives us a chance to dive deep into her personal experiences that are so common among those who walk through Walden’s doors. I can honestly say that I have become a better and more enlightened person for having the opportunity to learn more about her life.
Stephanie Haines, M.Ed., CHES, is an engagement specialist for Walden Behavioral Care. Her role is to help our patients to navigate the admission process. Before becoming a member of Team Walden, Stephanie was a Senior Prevention Specialist at FCD: Prevention Works!, part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation located in Newton, MA. Stephanie is a member of the National Wellness Institute and is a member of a number of training and prevention-focused committees. Stephanie earned her master’s degree from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, where she served as a graduate assistant to Margaret Burckes-Miller, founder and director of the university’s Eating Disorders Institute.