I have had a lifelong struggle with body image and my relationship with food. My story is extreme: I left my sophomore year of high school weighing in at a healthy 135 pounds and came back as a junior at 97 pounds. Seriously.
Looking back on it I think I felt overwhelmed with my life and food was the one thing I could control. And control it I did. I kept a food journal which shows the depth of my discipline. It would say things like: 6 cherries, chicken bouillon with 4 saltine crackers and a personal favorite at the time, grape nuts with water (instead of milk which had so many calories). I ran every day and played summer basketball in a league. I became obsessed with my weight and even at the lowest weight I still saw myself as fat.
I struggled throughout high school and the beginning of college with my weight. After my “discipline stage” I turned to another stage – binge eating and purging. I was a mess. The summer between my freshman year of college and my sophomore year of college I packed on the pounds. I had two jobs that required me to wear a uniform, a hotel cleaning lady and a waitress at Perkins. Both uniforms had an elastic waist which I knew was expanding. Every day at Perkins I had a piece of pecan pie. I was out of control. Getting ready to head back to college I knew it was bad when even my fat jeans didn’t fit. I had reached 180 pounds.
Roxanne Gay shares her personal story about her struggle as a “fat” person (her words). She was gang raped at age 12 and ate and ate and ate so nobody would see her. She wanted to become invisible to protect herself from boys. Roxanne’s weight at it’s peak reached 577 pounds.
When you gain (or lose) weight rapidly your body becomes fair game for people to talk about. She tells stories of people taking things from her shopping cart and lecturing her about what she should eat. She also tells of the difficulty to do normal things like go to a movie theater or fly on an airplane. She explores this difficult subject head on and in a very direct manner that is both eye opening and heartbreaking.
This book brought to mind my own personal history and issues with my body. Over the years I have found peace with my body through healthy eating and daily exercise. I began to take this healthier view toward the end of college and have maintained a healthy weight since then.
This book is a good look at this issue. I enjoyed it and I hope you will too.