“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
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
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.
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