“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
This story was poorly written and such a narrow focus. The book was focused so narrowly on just her weight. Although the story was heartbreaking, her narrow focus on writing about just her weight, it made it seem like she had no career in acting.
Way too detailed and way too long. Could have been an hour or two long and covered everything well. I would get so bored with all the details I would set it aside and then go back later hoping it would get more interesting. Never did. Sorry I wasted my time on it.
90% of it.
It was enjoyable, above average, though not the greatest but I enjoyed it. Would buy again.
She was a good narrator, but can sound angry too often.
It's good overall, even though most of the story is very oppressive, except the long epilogue.
I found myself relating to de Rossi's struggle...even though I've never suffered from anorexia
The fact that de Rossi narrated makes the story all the more personal
Anyone who has struggled with addiction, self image/worth or belonging should read this book!
Great book about the striking truth of struggle with self-actualization under the pressure of the society.
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 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.
Karen of Northern Michigan
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....
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.
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.
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.
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 .
The Strength Of A Woman.. One Woman who fought the war on eating disorders and won.
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