Book: Hunger by Roxane Gay
I’m so glad I was finally able to read this book. It’s honest—at times, gut wrenching. And it will force you to rethink how you understand our relationships to bodies, food, and size. Gay’s work mobilizes the concept of “unruly bodies” as a way to demonstrate how she—and others—attempt to control, manage, and shrink her body and bodies like hers. Hunger is a memoir of how Gay navigates the world in a her body, a body that we devalue because of its size. In narrativizing her relationship to her unruly body, Gay also negotiates her own relationship to her queerness, her gender presentation, her nationality as the daughter of Haitian immigrants, and her class status. Admittedly, I was not a fan of individualistic, liberal brand of feminism offered in Gay’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful Bad Feminist (2014). However, for me, Hunger does great work to advance conversations about body politics, size, and fat stigma at both the structural and individual levels. In a world where “body positive” is often trendy, individualistic, shamelessly capitalistic, and Eurocentric, Gay asks, What about those of us who can’t love our bodies? What does it mean to have a body society refuses to love, or even value? Who represents those whose bodies are a site of struggle, pain, and trauma? “We want and want and oh how we want. We hunger” (Gay, 245).
Product: Form Beauty, Leave-In Conditioner
I first tried out the FORM beauty leave-in conditioner because my best friend in real life (@_RAYCHELLE) and a “friend in my head” (Crissle West, half of the popular podcast The Read) both highly recommended it. Indeed, this conditioner is everything for girls with kinky and/or curly hair texture. It’s the perfect everyday, “My curls just need a pick-me-up” kind of product. One of my favorite things about it is the consistency. It’s thicker than a liquid (which may not provide enough moisture), but thinner than a lotion, moisturizer, or butter (which may sometimes build up after daily use, leaving your curls feeling heavy and gross). At $32, the price is a bit steep, but the bottle is huge and will last you a while. Your coils will thank you.
Book: Surpassing Certainty by Janet Mock
Many people who know me well know how much I adore writer, journalist, and trans rights activist Janet Mock. I saw her speak in March 2018 in Ann Arbor, and it was everything I needed in life. But I digress. Her second book, released in June 2017, is called Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me. As Mock has noted in interviews, her first book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (2014)—a book about her childhood as a biracial (Mock is of African American, Hawaiian, and European descent) trans girl in Honolulu—was at times more of a teachable, “trans 101” sort of text. Thus, in her sophomore effort Surpassing Certainty, Mock allows us a look at a totally different side to her story. We follow her as navigates her late teens and 20s: dancing in a strip club, dating and hooking up in New York City, working at Playboy and People magazines, and meeting her current husband. Through it all, with great care and intellect, Mock broaches complex topics that she has been invested in giving voice to her entire career: women of color and sexual agency; trans rights and representation; navigating poverty and colonial legacies in Hawaii; and beauty, colorism, and body politics (at the intersections of race, gender identity, colonialism, etc.)—to name a few.
I tried the app at the beginning of this year at the recommendation of one of my favorite YouTube bloggers Jenn Im (@imjennim). Headspace is an app that provides timed, daily, guided meditations. The speaker gently guides you through an otherwise quiet meditation session, which you can do anywhere at anytime. You start at the level “The Basics,” which include short, three-minute sessions which teach you how to relax, be quiet, and gently guide your thoughts. Who would have thought we would need to be taught how to do that? Once you complete the basics pack, the sessions become longer and can troubleshoot specific challenges (i.e. boredom during medication, anxiety, etc). A monthly subscription is about $10, but some of the packs and sessions are offered at no charge. I used to really be on it, doing the meditations every single evening. However, I kind of fell off and realized that daily sessions probably were not sustainable for me. Luckily, the app is flexible, and it’s easy enough to just do what works for you.