“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
I am halfway through and really wish I hadn't used a credit on this book. I have given it two stars only because aside from this book, I really like Portia De Rossi and her wife and would have simply felt bad giving it one star.
I don't want to sound crass or unsympathetic here, but I want to be honest. Portia De Rossi has clearly had a tough go of it and I sympathize. She seems to have found peace and happiness in her current life and I was looking forward to hearing about her journey. Unfortunately, at nearly five hours in the story has been so painfully repetitive that I am considering skipping chapters (I've never done this before, good or bad I like to experience a complete book) to see if the subject matter will ever change even slightly. I don't think its spoiling anything to say that up to this point all she has talked about is her struggle to lose weight and her low self esteem. Not to minimize the importance of these topics, but I get it, you strictly count calories, judge yourself harshly and unrealistically and feel like everyone else does too. I feel for you but the reader doesn't need a detailed account of EVERY SINGLE TIME you felt this way. Clearly she hasn't written about every thought she had during this time, but that is absolutely how it feels. At the halfway point I literally don't feel like the biography has progressed beyond the first our of listening.
I will finish the book because, well I used a credit on it and feel I should. But I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Sorry Portia.
While I was pleased to hear Portia narrate her own book, I found the book frustrating. Instead of being a memoir of recovery, the book becomes an almost encyclopedic manual for how to have an Eating Disorder. She goes into minute detail on how she managed to become an 82 pound waif and spends 20+ chapters on the minutiae of her ED. Her recovery is touched on only briefly in the epilogue. While the book does end on a high note, I am concerned that young people reading this may get more ideas on how to become ill in this way than inspiration to be well. That said, I applaud Portia's bravery and honesty.
That she was seemingly very honest.
I am not Pro - Ana or bulimic. But being the same height, body type, close in age, size & having the same body issues, I now have the information to tweak her diet/work out plan & tailor it to me.
Aside from the catullus for her behavior being self hatred & low self esteem, she was very determined. Although she didn't stop at a healthy weight, her drive was very inspiring. I now draw from that during my workouts.
Again, the honesty and the fact that at times I couldn't disconnect myself from her. I felt such empathy.
Yes, but it took me two evenings.
I couldn't help but give a hearty laugh when she said that "Kandinsky paints like a fat person." She wasn't PC at all, lol! I couldn't keep count of all the times she threw the word fat around. And of course, she mentioned her "black friend" Sasha. This woman held nothing back! She didn't show herself in the best light, but I loved it! We are ALL flawed in some way! And the fact that she didn't pretend to be anything else was a breath of fresh air.
When you come right down to it, the secret to having it all is believing that you do! :)
Learned a lot of things about this woman, gained a whole new respect and admiration for her.
Tragic, beautiful, enlightening
If you've ever struggled with an eating disorder or would like to understand how it is to have one, please buy this audiobook or read the book. I've never struggled with anorexia or any other kind of ED myself, but I wanted to understand how it is because it just seems so mind blowing to me that someone could hate themselves so much, but after listening to the audiobook it all seemed a little less confusing and even though I will never truly understand I am more capable of empathising with the pain and knowing a little more what to do and how a small action or a simple sentence can send someone spiralling. Really eye opening and emotional!
Thanks portia for your honesty. Eating disorders are so evil and they strike the most dedicated conscientious and intelligent amongst us. This book allows us to see into the heart of the eating disorder into its insanity. recommend it!
As a fellow woman with disordered eating, I found P's honesty profound among a painfully covert and dishonest group of suffering bulimics and anorexics. I hope it encourages others. I want to get better too.
Portia was very truthful with her experience; some details were shocking but really made me feel like walking into the life of an anorexic. I was afraid that she wouldn't be that professional a write but the events and themes were structurely skillfully and kept me interested throughout. I also enjoyed hearing about her homosexual and recovery experience. It's an easy "read" and I liked how I was able to listen to it while doing other things. Definitely a plus that she read it herself.
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