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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain | [Portia de Rossi]

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

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.
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Publisher's Summary

“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

What the Critics Say

“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

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (398 )
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  •  
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13
    Christine TOPEKA, KS, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2012
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    "An inspiration for all"
    What did you love best about Unbearable Lightness?

    I found myself relating to de Rossi's struggle...even though I've never suffered from anorexia


    What about Portia de Rossi’s performance did you like?

    The fact that de Rossi narrated makes the story all the more personal


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who has struggled with addiction, self image/worth or belonging should read this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    reviewer 11-08-12
    reviewer 11-08-12 Member Since 2009
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    "The definitive book on Anorexia/Bulimia. Period."

    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."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12
    Krystyna Charleston 10-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    3
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    "Good story great lesson"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Great book about the striking truth of struggle with self-actualization under the pressure of the society.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12
    Simone Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08-04-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Not cheery, but I loved it"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 07-30-12
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 07-30-12 Member Since 2011

    Karen of Northern Michigan

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    "Interesting"

    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....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Clearlake, CA, United States 07-29-12
    Stephanie Clearlake, CA, United States 07-29-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Riveting"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Charlotte, NC, United States 07-21-12
    Suzanne Charlotte, NC, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Better Than I Thought It Would Be"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    edel Ireland 07-08-12
    edel Ireland 07-08-12

    LittleBookFairy

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    "The Struggle To Stay Thin"
    Would you listen to Unbearable Lightness again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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 .


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Strength Of A Woman.. One Woman who fought the war on eating disorders and won.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Casper, Wy, United States 05-22-12
    Rachel Casper, Wy, United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Not unbearable listening"
    What made the experience of listening to Unbearable Lightness the most enjoyable?

    I liked that Portia read her own words. That is always a great thing to experience.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! I hated to not get to know more. I loved how honest she was.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. MccLure Houston, TX 05-15-12
    T. MccLure Houston, TX 05-15-12
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    "Beautiful"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Beautiful, honest, powerful


    What did you like best about this story?

    Portia has a way of taking you right there; every moment. It's a story about being human. One of the best momoirs in recent memory.


    Have you listened to any of Portia de Rossi’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    N/A


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I think I cried a few times, but mostly it just really hit home on so many levels.Everyone who's ever felt, less than...needs to read this book. It's a story of universal truths and helps connect us all.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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