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Roxane Gay Responds To Criticism About New Book, Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Assault 

The acclaimed feminist goes to a vulnerable place to share her important story.
Roxane Gay Responds To Criticism About New Book And Childhood Sexual Assault
Matt Sayles/Invision for PEN Center USA/AP Images

Roxane Gay has been doing rounds to promote her new book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body this week. Her second non-fiction book focuses on being a plus-size woman, her childhood and the daily struggles just navigating the world.

Monday night on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, the author spoke about her trauma as a child, being gang raped at 12 years old as a Catholic school student.

“My world was shattered, and I just thought, ‘I want to be stronger. I want to be bigger,’” she said. “I thought, ‘If I eat a lot, those boys won’t do this again, because I’ll be able to fight them next time. And they won’t want to do this because I’ll be fat, and boys don’t like fat girls.’”

The trauma of being assaulted led to the coping mechanism of eating, that she struggles with today. In the book she talks about the day-to-day annoyances of being big, like shoppers nitpicking her cart at the grocery store or having to buy two seats for flights.

“No matter what you do, you can’t fit, and the world is not really interested in creating a space for you to fit.”

Gay, who was suppose to be spearheading the next World of Wakanda book series before it was cancelled, also spoke to Australian site Mamamia about ‘Hunger’ and was offended by their podcast description and article written by Mia Freedman. 

As reported by the Huffington Post they wrote for the podcast, “A lot of planning has to go into a visit from [the] best-selling author. Will she fit into the office lift? How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview? Is there a comfortable chair that will accommodate her six-foot-three, ‘super-morbidly obese’ frame?”

The written piece, since taken down, was arguably worse.

“You see, Roxane Gay is … I’m searching for the right word to use here,” Freedman wrote. “I don’t want to say fat so I’m going to use the official medical term: super morbidly obese.”




What’s interesting about the whole interaction is that writing the book itself was a very vulnerable and brave thing for the acclaimed feminist to do. It’s one thing to comment on issues of gender inequality in the world, but it’s another to talk about your own daily battles with weight, currently as a plus size woman.

We would hope the criticism of her size, doesn’t stop Gay from continuing to share her experience 

“I wanted to tell the story of my body, because when you’re fat in the world, people have assumptions,” Gay told  Noah. “They assume you’re stupid… I think it’s important to show what it’s actually like to live in this world in a fat body.”