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“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.

Book Reviews

Unbearable Lightness
Average rating
4.4 / 5
January 23rd, 2014
A great read!! Nice to see celebrities are real people with real problems that have to overcome them like everyone else. Also a positive tool for those suffering with eating disorders and makes them feel they are not alone. A very brave tale to tell openly.
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1 review
Thank you!
January 3rd, 2014
I cried lots when reading this book... I can feel Portia's feeling & her shame for not being herself & for putting her body to extreme conditions. I see in her a very strong will power & brave woman. A very kind & intelligent woman that just wanted to archive higher in her career just like everyone else & she worked very are for it.. Thanks for sharing your memoirs.. Yours & Ellen's love for each other is admirable.. Best wishes to you both
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1 review
Couldn't put it down.
December 24th, 2013
Loved this amazing story. Sad that I've finished it. Going to read it again I think.
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1 review
Verrassend boek
August 18th, 2013
Hoewel ik geen anorexia of boulimia heb of heb gehad, heb me nog nooit druk gemaakt om mijn gewicht, vond ik sommige stukken heel herkenbaar. Ik val zelf ook op vrouwen en het heeft me 10 jaar van mijn leven gekost om dat te accepteren. Hoewel ze het vooral heeft over haar gewicht en alles wat daar mee samenhangt. Voel je feilloos aan dat onder andere het feit dat ze niet kan accepteren dat ze gay is, haar brengt tot een obsessie voor haar gewicht en uiteindelijk tot anorexia. Daarnaast blijkt ook uit dit boek maar weer dat Hollywood een grote schijnvertoning is. Uiteraard zijn er ook mensen in Hollywood die wel gelukkig zijn. Maar dit boek laat zien dat er ook genoeg mensen zijn in Hollywood die lijken te stralen van geluk, maar achter hun glimlach doodongelukkig zijn. Zoals ze zelf al zegt hebben tieners en jongeren rolmodellen nodig. Geen modellen die zeggen dat je een bepaald gewicht moet hebben om er goed uit te zien of acteurs die hun ware geaardheid verbergen. Kinderen hebben rolmodellen nodig die hun laten zien dat het gaat om wie je bent en dat je jezelf moet accepteren om wie je bent. Naar mijn idee is ze nu een goed rolmodel voor kinderen. Want door middel van dit boek laat zien dat het niet accepteren van jezelf en het anders voordoen dan jezelf je doodongelukkig maakt. In plaats daarvan leidt ze nu samen met haar vrouw een openlijk leven en dat brengt haar: geluk!
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1 review

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