Recently, I finished the memoir “Hunger” by Roxane Gay and it was an enlightening and enriching experience. A complicated and powerful narrative on sexual assault, disordered eating, bisexuality, Gay’s memoir provided me a new outlook on ideas such as fatphobia and our society’s obsession with diet culture and its effects on already marginalized populations. As the writer of the popular work, Bad Feminist, two best selling fiction novels, and the first black woman to write for Marvel Comics, most would assume that Gay’s life would be filled with celebrating her great accomplishments. However, Gay’s memoir does not shy away from explaining her obstacle-stricken journey to these accomplishments which includes a brutal sexual assault as a teenager that led her to become morbidly obese. While a strong proponent of body positivity that rejects the idea that in order to be respected one must be thin in public, Gay discusses her personal struggles with wanting to be smaller and trying to love herself at her size. Consistently at every turn, Gay copes with the fatphobia in our society from the television shows like the Biggest Loser, people physically taking food out of her shopping cart, and disgusting comments made on her size by strangers. Most people give her unwarranted advice that always includes exercise and healthy eating and do not understand the complexity of her disordered eating. 

It is important to address that whilst Netwalking continuously emphasizes that exercise and staying active is essential for a healthy mind and body, the toxic side of becoming obsessed with these healthy things can often become unhealthy and develop into serious conditions such as orthorexia. Orthorexia Nervosa is defined as being an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. To prevent disordered eating, it is important to take a step back and not feel guilty for simply eating badly for a few days or not exercising as almost everything is fine in moderation. Our society’s obsession with diet culture has conditioned us to believe that eating healthy and intense exercise is necessary for feeling good about ourselves. While these things can evidently help improve our self-image, they should really be done with the goal of improving our physical and mental health. Recognizing that your worth and value as a person does not come from how thin you are but rather who you are is essential.

About the Author:

Meet Kirtika: Hello, I am Kirtika Sharad, a rising senior at Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. As an International Affairs major and an English minor, I value improving my communication, analytic, and research skills in both domestic and international work settings. I have previously worked as a legislative intern at Congressman Bill Pascrell’s office, an editorial intern at Society19 and a museum assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I have joined the Netwalking team as I wholeheartedly believe in the message, and I also would like to gain more experience in social media management. I look forward to seeing all that I can accomplish with the rest of the awesome team.