Monday, 3 October 2011

Unbearable Lightness - Portia de Rossi

 Goodreads Summary:"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.

Why I Read This Book: I decided to read this book because I liked Ally McBeal, and I liked Arrested development, and I like Ellen and Portia. Really for no other reason. I don't have an eating disorder, and I don't know anyone close to me that does either. It had decent reviews, so I said, why not?!

Review: This book was good. It was a compelling read, and it was very eye opening to a disorder that I do not know much about. In my mind anorexia and bulimia are such easy fixes - eat some food! But I know this isn't true (not from the book) but I did like the way she wrote about how that is a lot of societies attitude. When she described Christmas with her family and how her eating that day made people relax I could fully understand that. I think the book would have benefited from a good editor (which I have read in a lot of reviews) but I don't think the story suffered because of it. I would have liked to have read more about her day to day now as a survivor (and had hoped to read more about here and Ellen, because I love Ellen, but it wasn't that kind of book). I guess that my biggest complaint, and why it didn't get more than 3 stars, is I felt like the book was too focused on the meticulous review of food, and not enough of what people around her were thinking. I would have loved to have read more about other Ally cast members account of it (Calista is pretty think herself!) and less about calories. I think someone with even a basic understanding of calories would get bored by the descriptions.


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