Author Roxane Gay Has Some Important Words to Say About Body Positivity
Every Body celebrates inclusivity and the representation of human beings in every shape and form.
The body-positivity movement has done so much for women and men the world over. Representation of all body types and abilities is growing, and giving space and time to those who may have felt invisible in the past.
Author Roxanne Gay — whose books include Bad Feminist and her latest, a memoir about her life as a fat woman, Hunger — is tackling one difficult aspect of the body-positivity conversation: standing up for yourself when you don’t feel great about your body. Her words are important for all of us, regardless of our size.
In Hunger, Gay talks at length about the struggles she faces in regular daily activities as a very big person, and for anyone who has never been or is not big, her admissions might be surprising. During an interview on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Gay said, “The bigger you become, the smaller your world gets. 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 has discussed the discrimination she feels just by leaving her house, and how her size logistically limits her ability to go into many public spaces. She has also spoken openly about how, in spite of the body positivity movement, the reality is that many very large women are still made to feel inferior in public.
In the book, and during an episode of NPR show This American Life, Gay discusses the difference between what she calls “Lane Bryant fat” (socially acceptable fatness) and those who surpass the size limits of what the popular plus size retailer carries. Gay argues that “Lane Bryant fat” women tend to be the most visible members of the body pos movement. But, Gay says, while these women assert that every woman should love herself no matter what size, Gay herself feels left out.
“I think it’s easier to feel that way when you have multiple places where you can buy clothes and feel pretty and move through the world,” Gay said during TAL, asserting that Lane Bryant only goes up to a size 28 (editor’s note: The site carries some styles up to a size 32). In order to fit into the store’s clothing sizes, Gay estimates that she would have to lose about 200 pounds.
She has an “aha” moment in the book and understands that while she doesn’t fit the ideal of a “fat woman,” it’s okay to advocate for yourself while not exactly being happy with the body you are in. This is revolutionary body talk. Admitting that you don’t have to love your body all the time to be body positive is a huge step for many struggling with their self-love and care. Gay’s honesty is refreshing and something we all need to hear, regardless of our size.
How do you practice body positivity? Tell us @BritandCo!
(h/t Refinery29; photos via Thos Robinson + Fredrick M. Brown/Getty)