Roxane Gay on Getting Weight Loss Surgery and Love-Hate Relationship with Her Body
Roxane Gay, the author of Hunger, is no stranger to topics about her body, weight loss, and food habits. She has written extensively about her own journey about being fine with her body.
Her issues with overeating and weight began when she was 12. She was raped, and that set her off on a path of dealing with the trauma internally.
Even though she has tried to lose weight over the years, it has been more for others' sake than her own.
How Roxane Gay’s Weight Gain Started
In Hunger, Gay has detailed her traumatic experience with rape at just 12 and how that changed her life. She even dreaded writing the book because she had to remember and relive those moments.
She was gang-raped, but she did not comprehend what had happened to her because of how young she was. A random guy she thought she knew manipulated her into it.
Roxane Gay has always undergone weight loss for everyone else around her. (Photo: Roxane Gay/Instagram)
She hid it from everyone, even her parents, and found comfort in food. That turned into overeating soon.
"I felt so weak and I felt so powerless, and I wanted to make myself bigger," she told NPR in June 2017. "And so I would overeat, and I would get quite a lot of comfort from that."
Roxane Gay’s Weight Loss Journey
Gay first contemplated weight loss when she attended an orientation seminar at the Cleveland Clinic with her father. At the event, she learned about gastric bypass.
After seeing the "deeply disturbing" videos about the procedure, she put herself up for a clinical assessment but later backed out of the procedure.
She instead turned to eating better and less, and moving more. She tried that over the following years, battling her eating disorder and overeating. Throughout this time, she "desire to lose weight but an inability — or, perhaps, unwillingness — to force myself toward the deprivation required for the significant weight loss the world told me I needed."
The weight loss she so badly wanted wasn't for her, but for everyone's gaze. She had a problem with how society viewed being fat as a medical problem and overweight people as not deserving dignity and acceptance.
So, after 15 years of putting off a weight loss procedure, she finally had a sleeve gastrectomy. Nobody except a chosen few knew about the surgery that she underwent in January 2018 at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital.
Even with this, she felt, in her own words, "in equal parts — hope, defeat, frustration, and disgust."
"I didn't really feel any shame until people in my life forced me to feel shame because they were ashamed of my body, or they were disgusted by my body," she told NPR.
Gay has written extensively on her weight, but everyone else has, too. And she had a few thoughts on that as well.
She was concerned that all people wrote about was her "highest weight," especially when Hunger came out. They were trying to make things salacious by focusing on the numbers.
Gay — despite whatever she had done to lose weight in the past — did not want to be thin. Smaller was all she wanted to be, and she did not know the reason behind that.
Breaking down the "wall" she had built around herself was also one of her priorities. She did not feel like she needed that protection anymore.