“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
100% of the books I read are in audible format. I enjoy reading apocalyptic, WWII, psychology, classics, contemporary and non-fiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most books written with courage and honesty. It touches anyone with an eating disorder and during the listen, I could feel my heart pound with the words of Portia's illness and how much of her everyday life it took from her. My mind could not wrap around the pain and energy it took to keep her 'eating' under control. I wish this woman all the best on her journey to recovery. A+
This book did nothing for me except to show what a silly, spoiled, vain girl Portia is. The whining just got to me. I realize that she was probably quite sick, but if she weren't so paranoid and if she thought about anything other than her appearance, it probably would not have gotten to that point. I have an eating disorder, and if I was given 1/10th of the beauty, opportunities, money, love, or family that she has in her life I'm sure I would be cured!
De Rossi doesn't flinch from the grittiest parts of a full-fledged eating disorder, but her story is anything but new. Thousands of women and men across the US and around the world suffer from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and the nebulous eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS), but because they are not celebrities, they struggle out of the public eye and largely in silence. I laud her for her honesty, but in this day and age I am shocked if what she has to say is news to people's ears.
This book kept me interested from beginning to end. Not only do you get insight into the downward spiral of anorexia, but you see the heavy toll of fame on a person's psyche. She also talks in detail about being "in the closet" and how that served to fuel her anorexia. A very sad look into mental illness, but with a heartwarming ending.
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