I finished the book.
I expected a different kind of memoir. A tell me all kind of reading. I wanted to fat talk. Roxane Gay’s book was that and it wasn’t that at all.
I was left feeling empty and not full. Like she let me sit at the dinner table with and eat only four ounces of a three course meal. I was not satisfied and yet satisfied all at the same time.
It was like reading her diary and only the parts she’d let me read. Like she had two versions. The one I’d find stuffed underneath her pillow if I was her mother ransacking her room looking for answers to her recent disruptive teenage behavior. The real diary was in a shoe box on the shelf in her closet. But I’d stop short of looking for that one because I’d be satisfied in finding this version.
Gay said, right from the start, that non-fiction is not her thing. That fiction for her is easier. She can write anything. Be anyone. Yet her book Hunger couldn’t be that. Memoir had to be her version of the truth. And as truthful as it may be, I didn’t feel, as a reader, that she dug deep enough. But that’s just the voyeur in me. That’s the opinion of the 250 lb woman I used to be.
If you read her book Untamed State, it’s a hard fictional book to get through. The rape scenes are graphic. You can feel the main character’s pain. You can smell the urine. You can sense the darkness in the room she was kept captive in. It was triggering. Gay’s memoir was not like this.
I bought the book after looking at a few reviews and on the recommendation of a few writer groups I am a part of. I was geeked to see that a fat woman was writing a book about being fat. I wanted to know what it was like to be her kind of fat. I was the 5’1″, 250 lbs kind of fat. Gay is a amazon kind of fat.
My kind of fat had my knees hurting while walking up stairs. I snored at night. I couldn’t masturbate for the massive size of my stomach wouldn’t let my finger tips touch myself. I had to bend to the right while laying on my back like one would do as if trying to scratch a part of your body you can reach but can’t really reach and you eventually catch a charlie horse of some sort. I’d pray I finish before that cramp set in.
I was the kind of fat where the seams of my pants would rip open from the constant friction of my thighs rubbing together. I’d stitch them back together because going out shopping to replace them in another bigger size was not what I wanted to do. Shopping for my kind of fat was not fun.
I learned that binging and purging was not only for body types that belonged to Amy Whinehouse. Big girls did it too. I once put my finger down my throat. My binge lasted one attempt. The taste of bile in my mouth was not my thing. My thing was eating my emotions for protection.
I sat in the kind of fat where sweat pooled in the cut of my c-section, forcing me to add powder to that area as part of my daily routine. I understand the sweat Gay spoke about all too well. So much so that I carried (still carry) an extra stick of deodorant in my bag.
I was the kind of fat where wearing stilettos was out of the question. But how I loved shoes. Both the gravitational pull of my weight on my feet and the outright unstable walk was more than I can bear. I envied those skinny women at work who were able to wear them as if they were your everyday pair of sneakers. I tip my hat off to those big girls that do the damn thing on stilettos.
I was the kind of fat that was the fat girlfriend in the bunch when I went out, which was close to never because trying to find something cute to wear was impossible. It was a project. Going out made me conscious of what my size 18 and at one point size 22 looked on my 5’1″ frame. How the extra fabric just didn’t fall right on me like it did on those models on the store front of Ashley Stewart stores.
I was the kind of fat that men ignored or hid from the public once they got to “see” me.
A man once told me “you know, you’re actually very pretty. And smart.”
We’ve known of each other. Seen each other in the halls and elevators at work. We were respectful with good mornings and have a nice weekend each time we crossed paths. It took him three years before he saw me. Three years.
Gay wrote about her kind of fat as she lives in a fat body. I write about my kind of fat from a size 6 now. I don’t think I would have been as brave enough as Roxane to have done so 110 lbs ago.
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