Smart and fierce when it comes to issues of race and gender, “Bad Feminist” author Roxane Gay is back with another hit.

This time, her newest release, "Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” shows a raw side of her. It’s tenacious and vulnerable. It’s also the hardest book she’s ever written.

Gay tells us about her relationship to her body, and how the conversation around people with her body type needs to change.

Here are seven moving excerpts from her book.

On a woman’s place

“This is what most girls are taught — that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.” (p. 13)

On her trauma

“With each passing year, I became more and more disgusted with myself. I was convinced that having been raped was my fault, that I deserved it, that what happened in the woods was all a pathetic girl like me could expect. I slept less and less because when I closed my eyes, I could feel boy bodies crushing my girl body, hurting my girl body.” (p. 82)

Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.
Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.

On how she coped

“I was swallowing my secrets and making my body expand and explode. I found ways to hide in plain sight, to keep feeding a hunger that could never be satisfied — the hunger to stop hurting. I made myself bigger. I made myself safer.” (p. 61)

On how she feels

“When you’re overweight, your body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be. Fat, much like skin color, is something you cannot hide, no matter how dark the clothing you wear, or how diligently you avoid horizontal stripes.” (p. 120)

Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.
Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.

On growing up

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.” (p. 244)

On acceptance

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance (not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.” (p. 297)

Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.
Illustration by Eve Archer for The Lily.

On her body

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.” (p. 296)

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