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Unbearable Lightness Audiobook

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

4.3 (543 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ann Melbourne, FL, United States 06-07-11
    Ann Melbourne, FL, United States 06-07-11
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    "Painfully slooooow moving and repetitive . . ."

    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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
    Delvatje Vancouver, British Columbia Canada 08-07-12
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    "More hope?"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Sakai 01-25-16
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    "A candid look at Anorexia and Bulimia"

    Having suffered from an eating disorder myself, I can tell you that this is a very candid look into the life of someone who is suffering from one. The book gives you a very honest look into the very real and, for the lack of a better word, crazy, thoughts, one has when encountering food. If you need are feeling alone in your recovery, or want to help someone recover, definitely pick up this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mamirhi 12-19-15
    Mamirhi 12-19-15
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    3
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    "Lovely. Lightly heavy."
    Where does Unbearable Lightness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book is enlightening and heavy-hearted. It is an excellent book!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Unbearable Lightness?

    Sheesh. I listen when I drive... that's tough.


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

    no. this is very well-done.


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

    It did make me giggle and also cry.


    Any additional comments?

    I think this book would, could and must help young and not so young folks realize that anorexia and bulimia is a real issue and they are not alone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn J Jacobs ARVADA, CO, US 11-01-15
    Carolyn J Jacobs ARVADA, CO, US 11-01-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Enlightened"

    Loved the honesty and revealing pain that we all are reluctant to admit. Thanks Portia!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juliette 08-13-15
    Juliette 08-13-15
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    "Great Weight Loss Tips & Inspiration!"
    What did you love best about Unbearable Lightness?

    That she was seemingly very honest.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


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

    Again, the honesty and the fact that at times I couldn't disconnect myself from her. I felt such empathy.


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

    Yes, but it took me two evenings.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Smith 05-30-15
    Alex Smith 05-30-15
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    "Incredible"


    incredible
    simply inspiring
    thanks so human, so real .
    recommended for anyone teaches you to value yourself on any or any opinion

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    yasmeen 05-27-15
    yasmeen 05-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "The whole book"

    I felt like it is the hidden story of every girl ,especially when it came to the end when she said I gain every pound I lost

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anissa M. Phillips Albany, GA 05-25-15
    Anissa M. Phillips Albany, GA 05-25-15 Member Since 2016

    When you come right down to it, the secret to having it all is believing that you do! :)

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    "Truly enjoyed this book"

    Learned a lot of things about this woman, gained a whole new respect and admiration for her.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    haboon 02-28-15
    haboon 02-28-15
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    "Beautifully written"
    If you could sum up Unbearable Lightness in three words, what would they be?

    Tragic, beautiful, enlightening


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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