Unbearable Lightness - Portia de Rossi

Synopsis: “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.

Review: I have never suffered from an eating disorder before. But when reading this book, I can honestly say I felt like I was there with Portia in the moment, feeling what she was feeling. The difference with this book as opposed to many celebrity authored books, is that there was no ghost writer here. Portia wrote all of the pages herself in her own words, and I was blown away… the girl has talent!

Her description of how she felt in every moment was so mesmerizing, and sometimes so sad.. I wanted to shake this girl and tell her to wake up to herself, but the fact that I felt that way for her, is a credit to her writing. It made me feel something. I’ve never really understood the way anorexics or bulimia sufferers think and how their actual thoughts change into this manipulative voice in their head. But I feel I learnt a lot from this book, and one of the most important things I took away from this, is that it really is a sickness and something to take seriously.

I’d highly recommend anyone who has suffered an eating disorder to read this, or if you know someone that does, to pick up this book. Even if you haven’t, it’s an eye opener into a world you couldn’t imagine. I have a lot of respect for Portia for being so brutally honest.

And hey, she was born in my home town of Geelong, Australia, so I have to like this girl. ;) lol

Rating: 5 out of 5

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