Hunger And The Universality Of The Fat Experience

I read Hunger by Roxane Gay in a day, couldn’t put it down. I rarely read memoirs because most of the people who write them have absolutely nothing in common with me and no emotional impact on my life.

Hunger left me crying.

I should clarify. It didn’t leave me crying by what Dr. Gay endured, even though anyone with basic empathy would be emotional after reading Hunger. No, it left me crying because I know what it feels like to endure a lot of what she went through and experiences to this day.

Man or woman, it’s hard being fat in this world. There’s a universality to what fat people experience that persons closer to “ideal” body types don’t understand, could never understand.

And when I say fat I’m talking about people the rest of the world would consider obese.

I was always the fat kid. Being born disabled with mobility issues I started off at a disadvantage and it only got worse. I spent much of my youth, from birth to at least nine years old, in corrective casts in an effort to get my feet to grow right, and even then they don’t work quite right making walking or standing for long periods extremely painful. Combine that with a genetic predisposition to be a larger than average and growing up with less than stellar nutritional examples, I was doomed to be the fat kid.

Since I was never allowed to be disabled it was always assumed my weight was because I lacked willpower or that I was lazy. Never mind that living with a disabled body drains a lot of your energy, even the boundless energy of a child, or that not taking into account my disability led to me doing too much, getting tired and/or hurt, and therefore discouraged from being active.

On top of this, once you’re fat the whole world notices and decides it’s their responsibility to make sure you know. I’ve had insults shouted at me from cars, been looked at with revulsion, and made to wish I was invisible. I’ve had friends and family tell me I just need to lose X amount of weight and I’ll look good, and endured the ordeal that was shopping for clothing while still expanding like the Roman Empire.

Add in depression and anxiety and you have a perfect cocktail for misery.

My trauma is different than Dr. Gray’s (seriously, go read Hunger) but we both ended up in the same place. As I read Hunger I kept seeing bits of my experience flashing before my eyes.

No matter your race or culture, fat is fat, and I wish more people understood.

Go read Hunger and maybe you might.