‘Cruel and Humiliating’: This ‘Feminist’ Website Just Proved Author Roxane Gay’s Point About Fat-shaming

Photo by Jay Grabiec

Photo by Jay Grabiec

The literary powerhouse behind Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay is facing her fair share of ignorance while promoting her new book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body — an account of navigating her way in the world as a fat person.

Australian website Mamamia apologized to the award-winning author after publishing an interview on its podcast No Filter with a description that asked whether she “would fit into the office lift,” and wondering how many steps she can walk. Naturally, Gay felt the text (which needs to be read in full to be believed) was “cruel and humiliating,” telling Twitter “I am appalled by Mamamia. It was a shit show. I can walk a fucking mile.”

In an accompanying piece, which has since taken down but is still viewable, the site's founder, Mia Freedman, shared private discussions from Gay’s team about arranging her visit, saying it was “deeply apologetic that in this instance we’ve missed the mark in contributing to this discussion.”

The apology itself may not actually articulate what Mamamia actually did wrong, but it does go a long way in detailing just how insidious fat-shaming can be. Speaking with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show Monday night, Gay herself touched on the ways our culture can display hatred towards fat people, treating or portraying them as ‘less than.’

“The bigger you become, the smaller your world gets,” she said. “No matter what you do, you can’t fit, and the world is not really interested in creating a space for you to fit.”

In Hunger (which is out June 13) Gay describes gaining weight as the result of severe childhood trauma. After being gang-raped at 12, she writes “My world was shattered, and I just thought, ‘I want to be stronger. I want to be bigger,’” she said. “I thought, ‘If I eat a lot, those boys won’t do this again, because I’ll be able to fight them next time. And they won’t want to do this because I’ll be fat, and boys don’t like fat girls.’”

The book also details the disdainful ways in which people have treated her — a successful, brilliant and acclaimed writer — as 'less than.' From taking food out of her shopping cart, to offering her (unsolicited) advice on nutrition at a book signing.

It’s just a shame that all this crappy treatment only continues to prove her point. That “the bigger you are, the less you are seen.”

- Jerico Mandybur