My Other Body: a memoir of love, fat, life, and death

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Table of contents

Born unexpectedly to a mother who did not want her and a father nowhere in sight, she spent much of her childhood bouncing from home to home. This book is so much more than an account of the founding of Black Lives Matter. Khan-Cullors writes beautifully and courageously about her childhood and young adulthood, and about the ways that mass incarceration and police brutality have deeply hurt her family.

This is a book that centers black women and black queerness, and though much of it is painful, it is ultimately a celebration of reliance and resistance. In this funny, heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Cumming recounts his experience uncovering long-held and unexpected family secrets during the filming of a reality TV show about genealogy. He seamlessly weaves together childhood memories about growing up in Scotland with an abusive father and snippets of his present-day life as a celebrated film and TV actor. Listening to her read it was almost unbearable at times, but always, always worth it.

She writes about the importance of honoring the past while also making space for change in her own life. Jazz Jennings transitioned in childhood, with the support of her family, and became a national celebrity and vocal advocate for trans rights after she was interviewed by Barbara Walters. In her memoir written when she was fifteen , she tells her own story with heart, warmth and the exuberance of a young teenage girl.

She expertly weaves together the story of her own childhood trauma with the story of Ricky Langley, a young man who murdered a six-year-old boy. The result is a powerful meditation on trauma, truth, narrative, and, ultimately, the astounding power of stories. This book is graphic and upsetting; it goes into details about child murder, pedophilia, and sexual abuse. If you can stand to read about these horrors, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Against the backdrop of the national movement for transgender rights, she tells her own story of self-discovery, as well as the heartbreaking story of the death of her partner shortly after they were married.

She writes with such honesty and also with a keen self-awareness that made this book a joy to read. She patiently delves into a lot of trans issues, making this a great book for readers interested in learning more transgender experiences. In this fierce and beautiful memoir, Moore recounts his childhood growing up black and gay in Camden, New Jersey, coming of age as a gay man and exploring his sexuality during the height of the AIDS epidemic, and ultimately finding his calling, as well as a home, as an organizer and activist in the Black Lives Matter movement.

At my heaviest, I weighed lb, or over 41st, at 6ft 3in.

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That is a staggering number, but at one point, that was the truth of my body. I do not weigh lb now. I am still very fat, but I weigh about pounds less than that. With every new diet attempt, I shave off a few pounds. This is all relative. I am not small. I never will be. For one, I am tall. I have presence, I am told. I take up space. I want to go unnoticed. I want to disappear until I gain control of my body. I began eating to change my body. I was wilful in this. Some boys had destroyed me, and I barely survived it. I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away.

Of all the things I wish I knew then that I know now, I wish I had known I could talk to my parents and get help, and turn to something other than food. There was a boy. His name was Christopher. I was 12 when I was raped by Christopher and several of his friends in an abandoned cabin in the woods where no one but those boys could hear me scream.

They were boys who were not yet men but knew, already, how to do the damage of men. I remember their smells, the squareness of their faces, the weight of their bodies, the tangy smell of their sweat, the surprising strength in their limbs. I remember that they laughed a lot. I remember that they had nothing but disdain for me. When it was all over, I pushed my bike home and I pretended to be the daughter my parents knew, the straight-A student. My memories of the after are scattered, but I remember eating and eating and eating so I could forget, so my body could become so big it would never be broken again.

Today, I am a fat woman.

See a Problem?

It would be easy to pretend I am just fine with my body as it is. What I know and what I feel are two very different things. I am not comfortable in my body. Nearly everything physical is difficult. I have no stamina. When I walk for long periods of time, my thighs and calves ache. My lower back aches. My shirt gets damp. I feel like people are staring at me sweating and judging me for having an unruly body that dares to reveal the costs of its exertion. There are things I want to do with my body but cannot. Sometimes, they pretend not to know, and sometimes, it seems like they are genuinely that oblivious to how different bodies move, as they suggest we do impossible things like go to an amusement park or walk a mile up a hill to a stadium.

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  • I avoid walking with other people as often as possible because walking and talking at the same time is a challenge. In public toilets, I manoeuvre into cubicles. No matter how small a toilet cubicle is, I avoid the disabled toilet because people like to give me dirty looks when I use that stall merely because I am fat and need more space. My body is a cage of my own making.

    We Are All Unruly

    I have been trying to figure a way out of it for more than 20 years. Fat, much like skin colour, is something you cannot hide, no matter how dark the clothing you wear, or how diligently you avoid horizontal stripes.

    You may become very adept at playing the role of wallflower. You may learn how to be the life of the party so that people are too busy laughing at or with you to focus on the elephant in the room. Regardless of what you do, your body is subject to commentary when you gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your unacceptable weight. People are quick to offer you statistics and information about the dangers of obesity, as if you are not only fat but also delusional about the realities of your body. This commentary is often couched as concern. They forget that you are a person.

    You are your body, nothing more, and your body should damn well become less. Many years ago, at the gym, five of the six recumbent bikes, my equipment of choice, were occupied by gorgeous, extraordinarily thin women, predominantly of the blond persuasion.

    I looked around, wondering if a movie was being filmed or if it was Sorority Workout Hour.

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    I became irritated and downright angry as I always do when I see exceedingly thin people at the gym. I feel like they are mocking me with their perfect, toned bodies. I glanced over at the girl next to me. She had been on the bike for about two minutes longer. When 40 minutes passed, my legs were burning fiercely. I looked at my neighbour and she looked back at me. She had been eyeing me the entire time, wondering just how long I was going to last.

    After 45 minutes, I locked eyes with my nemesis again and saw a glint in her eyes. She was letting me know that however long I lasted, she would last longer. She would not be bested by a fat ass. At 50 minutes, I was certain that a heart attack was imminent, but death was preferable to losing to that hussy.

    Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

    At 53 minutes, she glared at me, leaned forward, and grabbed the handles of the bike. I turned up the volume on my music and started bobbing my head to the beat. At 60 minutes, I calmly stopped pedalling, peeled my shirt away from my skin, wiped the bike down, and slowly exited the room because my legs were rubbery and weak. I was trying to project poise. I knew she was watching. I was smug and temporarily triumphant. Then I stepped into the bathroom and threw up, ignoring the bitter taste at the back of my throat as I embraced a hollow victory.

    I am, perhaps, self-obsessed beyond measure. No matter where I am, I wonder about where I stand and how I look. I think, I am the fattest person in this apartment building. I am the fattest person in this class. I am the fattest person at this university. I am the fattest person in this theatre. I am the fattest person on this aeroplane. I am the fattest person in this airport.


    I am the fattest person in this city. I am the fattest person at this conference. I am the fattest person in this restaurant. I am the fattest person in this shopping mall. I am the fattest person on this panel. I am the fattest person in this casino. I am no stranger to dieting.

    I understand that, in general, to lose weight you need to eat less and move more. I can diet with reasonable success for months at a time. There is always a moment when I am losing weight when I feel better in my body. I feel myself getting smaller and stronger. My clothes fall over my body the way they should and then they start to get baggy. I start to worry about my body becoming more vulnerable as it grows smaller. I start to imagine all the ways I could be hurt.

    I also taste hope. I taste the idea of having more choices when I go clothes shopping. I taste the idea of walking into a crowded room without being stared at and talked about. I taste the idea of food shopping without strangers taking food they disapprove of out of my trolley or offering me unsolicited nutrition advice.

    I taste the idea of being free of the realities of living in an overweight body. And then I worry that I am getting ahead of myself.