Why is the memoir titled "Heavy"? What are the many different layers and interpretations of "heavy" we see in the book?

The memoir is titled Heavy in part because the author chronicles his life as a person whose body weight is much higher than what is generally considered normal. The many different layers and interpretations of "heavy" seen in the book include physical weight; the burdens of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; and racism.

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The title Heavy refers in one sense to the author’s lifelong experience of having body weight that exceeds the general assessment of normal. Because he learned quite young that many others had a negative view of “heavy” in reference to weight, he began to internalize a negative self-image even before...

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The title Heavy refers in one sense to the author’s lifelong experience of having body weight that exceeds the general assessment of normal. Because he learned quite young that many others had a negative view of “heavy” in reference to weight, he began to internalize a negative self-image even before he realized that he was doing so. Laymon’s struggle to reduce his physical weight was later accompanied by his efforts to reach a positive self-image; the burden of those emotional and mental challenges constituted another kind of heaviness.

While growing up and in early adult intimate relationships, Laymon suffered from the physical and emotional abuse that others inflicted. People he considered friends and caregivers, such as a babysitter, sexually abused him. Learning the need to distance himself from abusers was also a heavy burden because he had understood love as intrinsically connected with abuse. As an adult, heaviness increasingly includes struggles with alcohol, and health issues that arise as he gains and loses weight.

Sometimes, things that are considered opportunities for black youth, such as attending an elite school (where almost all the students were white), creates an additional weight that he must learn to carry. The challenges he faces at school include difficulties with playing sports and writing because his coach/teacher bullied him with verbal abuse about his physical weight. Laymon’s realization that writing is the path he needs to pursue helps him persevere in staying in school and succeed in college. The personal burden of racism, which he increasingly understands as part of a systemic problem, is an ongoing challenge through his adult life.

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