“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”
Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work - first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.
In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.
Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.
From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.
In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.
©2010 Portia de Rossi; ©2010 Simon & Schuster Audio
“Breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)
“Possibly the best book on the subject ever written. De Rossi is the real deal, a fine writer with a sharp mind and substance. This rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power, and significance will serve as life-changing inspiration for many.” (Augusten Burroughs)
“De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. You will cheer her on.” —Jeannette Walls
It was enjoyable, above average, though not the greatest but I enjoyed it. Would buy again.
She was a good narrator, but can sound angry too often.
It's good overall, even though most of the story is very oppressive, except the long epilogue.
I found myself relating to de Rossi's struggle...even though I've never suffered from anorexia
The fact that de Rossi narrated makes the story all the more personal
Anyone who has struggled with addiction, self image/worth or belonging should read this book!
I would recommend this to anyone that can't relate/doesn't understand the mindset of an Anorexic/Bulimic. I'd also recommend this to people that want a career in acting or modeling because of de Rossi's well-deserved rage and frustration with the pressure to conform to the unhealthy and dangerous "size zero" ideal that the entertainment and modeling industry forces upon women, young and old. From beginning to end, the author guides you through the day to day, moment by moment hell that she went through to meet societal standards so that she could earn a living, petrified that her next meal could trigger another dangerous binge. This is also a candid memoir about a time in Hollywood when stating that you are gay meant the end of your career. She lived in fear of being "outed" and stalked by the press, becoming tabloid fodder and never being able to work again. Heartbreaking and devastating. de Rossi is such a talented author that I wish she'd write more books in the future. Her intense and vivid style of writing instantly draws the listener in. This is a definitive "must listen."
Great book about the striking truth of struggle with self-actualization under the pressure of the society.
I fell in love with her listening to this. My only complaint would be that her recovery doesn't start until the epilogue, I would have liked to hear more about the upward trajectory that followed the descent she describes in the book. I hope she'll write another book, no matter what it is about I would read it.
Karen of Northern Michigan
Portia is very candid and honest about her eating disorder in this book. Quite amazing what people do to themselves for the sake of being thin.. She's such a beautiful woman, it's a shame she felt she wasn't good enough being a normal size... Great story but a little depressing.. I just wanted to reach through the pages and shake her, saying, good grief woman.. you are gorgeous.. stop killing yourself to be so thin....
It is generally not a good decision to be the narrator of your own book, but I think it was a good decision in this case. After listening to this, I felt like I truly understood what it was like to have an eating disorder. Not only was the writing first rate, I felt like the author was as true and honest as she could be while detailing her experience. There was not a false note anywhere.
I was never a fan of Portia DeRossi on Ally McBeal, but thought she was hilarious on Arrested Development, so I was mildly interested in her story. I was quite surprised how I could not stop listening. She is so honest about everything - more than just her eating disorder but her family, her childhood, her insecurities - things many of us would have a hard time talking about even with our best friends. It was also interesting to hear how she ended up being successful in probably that last field for which she was suitable. It's amazing she pulled through and could write such a soul-bearing book, considering how she started out.
Yes I would. It was a tough subject that normally would not interest me to hear again but when told with Portia's wonderful voice it becomes a very touching account about a very hard time in her life.
Portia's honesty. Portia in no way made this seem glamourous. You are shown exactly what she went through. I can understand now why this is an illness. The struggles she went through and how strict she was with herself were mind blowing.
The Yogurt part and the part of exercising while at work and trying not to ruin her make-up It showed how strict she was with herself .
The Strength Of A Woman.. One Woman who fought the war on eating disorders and won.
I liked that Portia read her own words. That is always a great thing to experience.
Yes! I hated to not get to know more. I loved how honest she was.
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