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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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  •  
    Nancy Denton, TX, United States 12-18-11
    Nancy Denton, TX, United States 12-18-11

    maisoui

    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "Inspiring story!"
    Where does Unbearable Lightness rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is among the best audiobooks I've heard. I think it's particularly powerful since it's read by the author. I really love the way that di Rossi delivered an incredibly moving story, but without sentimentality or cheesiness. This is a must-read/must-hear book for anyone interested in the development of a woman finding herself, and carving out a life on her own terms.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica United States 12-15-11
    Monica United States 12-15-11
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    Story
    "This Book Is About Eating Disorders..and...."

    Low self esteem...If you can relate to either. You will enjoy this book.If you cant... you wont enjoy it....Well told...Honest...And all so very true...
    WARNING:possible trigger for people in recovery as she goes into great detail....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sammy TROY, MI, United States 11-13-11
    Sammy TROY, MI, United States 11-13-11
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    11
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Depends on the reader"

    Recommendation of this book would really depend on the reader. Though it's engaging and thorough, at it's heart it's an account of an eating disorder. That either appeals to you or it doesn't. Many, many people relate to or mirror the thoughts and behaviors presented in this book. You may already know the ways an eating disorder can twist someone's life and you don't want to relive it. You may not want to think of it at all. But if you're unfamiliar with the disorder and would like to hear a woman tell you, in her own voice, the sort of power it can have, then I'd recommend this book to you without hesitation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Jackson Arizona 09-23-11
    B. Jackson Arizona 09-23-11 Member Since 2009

    virga

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    "Talk about focusing on the wrong things..."

    I'm so very glad that Portia De Rossi nee Amanda Rogers has found therapy, part of which appears to be this book. As an ex-member of the same business, though, I found it so tiresome to hear about her petty concerns about being average, not having fashion sense, and the secret of sexual preference being discovered, Some of us actresses actually took classes and cared about our acting. Yes, the pressure to look good was there and often combined with an individual's pre-existing mental health conditions (OCD and borderline personality come to mind in Portia's case) to create aberrant behavior. I just had hoped for a more compelling story. Most unintentionally funny reveal? She didn't like her name Amanda because it had "a man" in it. Admirable American accent, though.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saundra United States 07-12-11
    Saundra United States 07-12-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Amazing Book"

    So truly enjoyed this book... Love the honesty and emotion Portia put into this book..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rashid Dunlap Philadelphia, PA 07-04-11
    Rashid Dunlap Philadelphia, PA 07-04-11
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    4
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    "awesome"

    Awesome book, very real! Nice voice as well. This book is worth "reading"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debs Chicago, IL, United States 04-08-11
    Debs Chicago, IL, United States 04-08-11

    dc74

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    2
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    "Her honesty drew me in completely"

    I listened to Portia de Rossi read her memoir and throughout I just kept thinking how brave she was to really let the full bat-sh-t craziness of her struggle with eating disorders come through the page. Because, girl was F-ED UP!

    She also had some really interesting things to say about feminism and body image, particularly within the Hollywood industry, things you don't hear a whole lot coming out of Los Angeles. She was also incredibly honest about her struggles with her own sexuality, how it fed into a real isolation and self-hatred that was intertwined with her eating disorder, and just her own sense of self.

    The one thing I will say about listening to this book rather than reading it, is you don't get to see any of the images. It's one thing to hear some one say they weighed 82 pounds, but it's a whole other ball of wax to see de Rossi in her former skeletal state.

    I was also hoping, as a fan of "Arrested Development," that she'd provide a little behind-the-scenes stuff, and perhaps, in another memoir she will. She should continue to write, her honesty drew me in completely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Malea Oklahoma City, OK, United States 04-06-11
    Malea Oklahoma City, OK, United States 04-06-11
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    "Outstanding and Inspirational"

    I don't care for nonfiction. I find it boring and generally inaccessible to most readers outside the specifically targeted market. This book is none of that. This is a hard book. It is raw and honest and gritty and truthful and REAL in a way I haven't seen before. I found myself unable to stop listening; I was completely enthralled in the perilous journey and even though I knew the general outcome, I still felt afraid of what would happen to the author. To hear the story directly from the author's, Portia de Rossi's, lips was even more powerful. She lived through it and her courage to share, without censorship, her trials and triumphs with others is extraordinary. As soon as I finished listening, I wanted to begin again, it is that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Starlet 03-20-11
    Starlet 03-20-11 Member Since 2013

    100% of the books I read are in audible format. I enjoy reading apocalyptic, WWII, psychology, classics, contemporary and non-fiction.

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    "I Could Relate Somehow"

    This book was very interesting reading -- better than I thought it would be. Anyone, women in particular, who have a 'thing' about food and maintaining their weight will appreciate this very honest portrayal by Portia of her life during this time period. The meal preparation (meal not really an appropriate description!) and the way her life revolved so incredibly around her desire to lose weight and look good. She was a true picture of an anorexia mind set as I saw it. I thought she was so forthcoming about everything she did during this time of her life -- I was taken aback at how much i could relate to -- that was the thing. Even though I'm just a little compulsive about maintaining my weight with all of this special (healthy) food prep (for real meals) and regular exercise, it pales compared to how she lived her life -- but it was entertaining reading for me because I could be empathetic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Ceylon, Saskatchewan, Canada 01-26-11
    Linda Ceylon, Saskatchewan, Canada 01-26-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Wow"

    This book was wonderfully brave. I love Porta as an actress but I respect and admire her as an author for this book. I wish it was a mandatory read for all young women in high school or college. Simply fantastic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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