Hello there! Today, I’m incredibly grateful to open up and share with you a personal journey marked by three remarkable books that became guiding lights during my struggle with an eating disorder. But before we dive into that, let’s establish something fundamental.
This blog is a sanctuary, a safe haven where discussions about the “D word” or the perils of calorie counting have no place. It’s a space cocooned from judgment and hurtful conversations. Whether we’re exploring the joy of baking, sharing the latest in entertainment, or simply bonding over a cup of coffee or tea, know that here, empathy and understanding reign supreme.
As the year draws to a close, the internet seems inundated with posts and articles heralding ways to shed weight, urging us to become the best version of ourselves for the holiday season or adopt a new year, new me mantra. Yet, amidst these well-intentioned pieces lies an abundance of triggers. Have these ever truly helped someone? Where’s the empathy in this avalanche of clickbait content? It’s as if a swarm of twenty-something journalists types away just to chase the highest clicks, forsaking empathy in the process.
While the internet holds a wealth of information for those who know how to navigate it, social media has blurred boundaries, crossing lines that often feel too intrusive. It’s precisely why I’ve chosen to share these three books with you, they aren’t just a source of information, but a comfort, a haven of solace. They amplify voices that need to be heard, offering a respite from the noisy chaos of the digital world.
And here’s the unique part, each book I’ll introduce holds its own distinctive key to understanding, healing, and resilience in the face of adversity. They aren’t merely stories on paper, they are allies that embraced me during the most challenging times.
So, let’s embark on this journey together, a journey that speaks of empathy, healing, and the profound impact of literature in transcending struggles.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay. Beginning with a resounding disclaimer, the author lays the groundwork for a narrative that transcends the confines of a traditional memoir. This isn’t a tale of triumphant conquests, it’s an unyielding insistence on the story being acknowledged and embraced. The pages unravel a deeply personal journey through a body that doesn’t fit into society’s predefined categories. It’s not merely about being overweight but an exploration of living as super morbidly obese, a term that fails to capture the intricate layers of human experience.
What resonates most profoundly is Gay’s unwavering honesty as she grapples with trauma, painting a vivid picture of the before and after, of life pre and post an event that fundamentally altered her world. Her courage to share these deeply intimate moments feels nothing short of monumental. It’s a testament to her resilience, offering a compelling insight into the myriad ways trauma can reshape a person’s existence. The emotional weight of her words hits hard, forging a connection that transcends mere storytelling, it’s an invitation into the depths of vulnerability and the unyielding desire to be seen and understood.
This memoir isn’t just powerful, it’s transformative in its essence. Gay’s narrative isn’t confined to personal recollections, it serves as a beacon, illuminating the shadows cast by societal norms and expectations regarding body image. It’s a profound call for empathy, urging us to rethink our perceptions and biases. This book isn’t just necessary reading, it’s an essential mirror reflecting the myriad struggles individuals face in a world that often overlooks the nuances of their experiences.
Roxane Gay’s narrative isn’t just her story, it’s a resonant echo of the silenced voices yearning to be acknowledged and understood, making it one of the most compelling and essential reads of our time.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. In this one, I first watched the TV show on Hulu, and then I read the book. I liked both for their distinct yet complementary qualities. The TV show Shrill drew me in with its unfiltered depiction of Annie Easton’s journey, a character loosely based on Lindy West and her relentless pursuit of self-acceptance amidst societal pressures. Through Aidy Bryant’s compelling portrayal, the series eloquently echoes the book’s essence, showcasing themes of body positivity, feminism, and the unyielding quest for self-worth. It’s an inspired adaptation that captures the spirit of Lindy West’s narrative while infusing its own creative flair.
As for the book, Shrill delivers a raw and unapologetic exploration of Lindy West’s life experiences. In her collection of essays, West fearlessly confronts societal norms, particularly concerning body image, feminism, and the incessant scrutiny women face. Her writing is a powerhouse of vulnerability and strength, intertwining personal anecdotes with sharp cultural observations. What sets this book apart is its candidness; West doesn’t just share her story, she invites readers to question and challenge the status quo, fostering conversations that demand attention and change.
While the TV show captures the essence of Lindy West’s journey, the book delves deeper into the intricacies of her thoughts and experiences. West’s voice in the written word is a force, an unfiltered outcry against the systemic barriers imposed on women. It’s a testament to resilience, urging readers to embrace their authenticity unapologetically. Her narrative isn’t just empowering; it’s a rallying cry for societal transformation, encouraging readers to find strength in their differences and to advocate for a more inclusive world.
Lindy West, a courageous advocate, emboldens others to speak their truth and challenge societal norms. Her bravery inspires countless voices to stand up and be heard.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon. Each chapter begins with a personal experience, unfortunately relatable to many individuals. It’s a shame that these voices remained unheard until recently. As a millennial, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. How reassuring it would have been to know that there were others like me scattered across the globe.
In one chapter, the author shares an encounter with a doctor regarding an ear infection. As expected, the immediate advice was to lose weight immediately. I admired the author’s response: My ears didn’t gain weight. But unsurprisingly, the doctor remained deaf to her perspective! Now, I’d like to share a similar experience that I’m sure many have unfortunately encountered. I was terribly ill, barely able to stand, and it turned out to be a throat infection - although I can’t recall its exact name - one that made you feel weak behind your knees! How peculiar our bodies can be. I went to a private doctor with my mother, and upon examining me, he made a disheartening remark. He said, Okay, now get better, your face is so beautiful, it would be such a shame…work on losing weight first, and then come back to consider fixing your nose. Curious about his perspective, I questioned, What’s wrong with my nose? Although I was aware it was prominent and rather large, I wanted to understand his reasoning. Yet, as expected from someone like him, he muttered something indistinct, and we left. Reflecting on the encounter, I found myself holding my mother responsible for not speaking up, for not standing against his insensitive comments. At that time, I was merely twenty years old, and these kinds of experiences felt like an endless cycle of trauma. It’s a daily struggle that many of us unfortunately have to endure.
Aubrey Gordon also hosts a podcast called Maintenance Phase, where she and her co-host dissect and break down wellness nonsense. You’ll enjoy it as they skillfully discuss facts in a friendly and light-hearted tone.