Unbearable Lightness : A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi
Synopsis from publisher:
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.
Body image is an issue that just about every woman is conscious of. I'm not sure there is a woman alive who hasn't struggled, at one time or another, with feelings of dissatisfaction and insecurity about they way they look. Most of us, however, don't work in an industry where body image is, literally, everything.
This is the first time I've read a memoir that truly gets inside the thought process of a person struggling with an eating disorder. It was both fascinating and horrifying to read the justification and rationalization de Rossi went through as she ate less and less, and shrunk more and more. When, at 82 pounds, she says she can't be anorexic because she isn't skinny enough, it is nearly unbelievable - and yet, you know she believes every word.
de Rossi isn't a writer, she's an actress, and yet she wrote this memoir herself, baring her soul and her demons to the public for better or worse. I was completely engrossed from the first page. It may not be the most elegant writing, but it is true and strong, and the story is compelling.
This is a story about learning to find acceptance - to be strong enough to know that you are enough, just the way you are. I have a daughter now, who will someday need to learn these lessons on her own. I hope she will read this book, and maybe find herself just a little bit closer to accepting herself thanks to de Rossi's honesty and courage.
Source: review copy from the publisher - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG-13 for discussions of body, self-abusive behavior, and sexuality
My rating: 8/10