When Australian website Mamamia interviewed best-selling author Roxane Gay last May to discuss her upcoming book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, the experience did not go as planned. In a preface of the interview for the website’s No Filter podcast, Mamamia effectively “fat-shamed” the feminist author, posting many of Gay’s personal pre-interview requests online and breaching the terms of confidentiality.
“A lot of planning has to go into a visit from [the] best-selling author,” read the opening. “Will she fit into the office lift? How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview? Is there a comfortable chair that will accommodate her six-foot-three, ‘super-morbidly obese’ frame?” The details — which are decidedly invasive — prompted a bevy of responses from Gay on Twitter who was understandably perturbed by the website’s portrayal of her.
Although the article was eventually taken down (the curious can read a copy of the original here), Mia Freedman, co-founder and creative director of Mamamia, initially defended the website’s choice to discuss Gay’s personal requirements. “I would never normally breach the confidence of what goes on behind the scenes while organizing an interview,” Freedman wrote, “but in this case, it’s a fundamental part of her story and what her book is about.”
While Freedman may have genuinely believed that over-sharing was intrinsic to discussing the author’s work, Gay’s readers were quick to point out that the honesty was brutal at best, tactless and hostile at worst. “I wanted to tell the story of my body, because when you’re fat in the world, people have assumptions,” Gay explained during an interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, “I think it’s important to show what it’s actually like to live in this world in a fat body.”
The Mamamia team has since released a public apology lamenting their actions and the mental distress that it caused Gay. “In no way did Mamamia ever intend to make Roxane Gay feel disrespected and we apologize unequivocally that that was the unintended consequence.”
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.