Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

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Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

by Portia de Rossi

Atria Books | November 1, 2010 | Hardcover

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain is rated 4.3333 out of 5 by 6.
“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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 in

Published: November 1, 2010

Publisher: Atria Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1439177783

ISBN - 13: 9781439177785

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Frightenly True This story reveals the most heart wrenching emotional and physical effects of anorexia. At times, I thought it was exaggerated but that was only because I have never known anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder. This book is as real as it gets.
Date published: 2011-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A precious gift I am touched and shocked by the sincerity and beauty of this book. Portia has a natural talent of storytelling. The imagery in this book is so vivid; I felt as if I was there accompanying her in the struggle of reclaiming personal dignity - a journey of learning to accept and love oneself. To me, this is such a precious gift that someone would open up the deepest part of their soul to share with others their painful yet inspiring stories. Simply one of the best reads I have ever encountered.
Date published: 2011-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye opening! I am so proud of her for opening up to the world. She will open may people eye's into what is true with Anorexia and Bulimia. If you know anyone who has suffered anyway from these things, you will really understand what is going on in the mind of a girl that is hurting.
Date published: 2011-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Brutally Honest! From page one it sucks you in, Portia offers an extremely graphic look into the life of an individual with an eating disorder. I found I was disappointed on how little she focused on the recovery process! Her story is highly graphic and perhaps not the best read for an individual suffering through the recovery, though definitely helpful for people who know an individual with an eating disorder to understand the level of torment their loved one is dealing with!
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brave and Honest Memoir I loved this book. The subject matter of anorexia and bulimia is difficult and disturbing, but Portia is so brutally open and honest in sharing her story that it is difficult to put down. At times I was quite shocked at how severe her obsession with being thin was and the extreme measures she took to get there, but I found myself reading late into the night to find out how she pulled herself out from such a dark and turbulent place. As a fan of Ally McBeal, I remember how much I loved Nelle's character and how beautiful I thought Portia was...it is sad to now know how tortured Portia was at that time and what her real life was like. I think this book is for anyone struggling with self esteem and/or body image issues, or anyone just interested in Portia. I admire her for being so open and honest and for sharing her story. Portia is a beautiful woman inside and out no matter what her size and I am so happy for her that she has found peace and love in her life.
Date published: 2010-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching I absolutely loved this book. It's an emotionally difficult read, as are most books dealing with the subject matter of an eating disorder. The complete honesty and frankness with which Portia maps out her life-long relationship with anorexia and bulemia really allows you to understand something about both the outward expression of the disease and the intense psychological suffering of an anorexic. I think anyone who is a fan of Portia's will find this book extremely interesting. Certainly anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or self esteem issues, or known somebody who has, should read this book. It's a fantastically well-written book, as Portia weaves together the events of her life from early childhood onward to finally make sense of where she is today. And though it's incredibly saddening, knowing there's a happy ending coming along certainly helps!
Date published: 2010-11-04

– More About This Product –

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

by Portia de Rossi

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 in

Published: November 1, 2010

Publisher: Atria Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1439177783

ISBN - 13: 9781439177785

About the Book

Known for her roles on the hit TV shows "Ally McBeal" and "Arrested Development," de Rossi delivers a revelatory and searing account of the years she spend secretly suffering from bulimia, all the while living under the glare of Hollywood's bright lights. 8-page b&w photo insert.

Read from the Book

PROLOGUEHE DOESN’T WAIT until I’m awake. He comes into my unconscious to find me, to pull me out. He seizes my logical mind and disables it with fear. I awake already panic-stricken, afraid I won’t answer the voice correctly, the loud, clear voice that reverberates in my head like an alarm that can’t be turned off.What did you eat last night?Since we first met when I was twelve he’s been with me, at me, barking orders. A drill sergeant of a voice that is pushing me forward, marching ahead, keeping time. When the voice isn’t giving orders, it’s counting. Like a metronome, it is predictable. I can hear the tick of another missed beat and in the silence between beats I anxiously await the next tick; like the constant noise of an intermittently dripping faucet, it keeps counting in the silences when I want to be still. It tells me to never miss a beat. It tells me that I will get fat again if I do.The voice and the ticks are always very loud in the darkness of the early morning. The silences that I can’t fill with answers are even louder. God, what did I eat? Why can’t I remember?I breathe deeply in an attempt to calm my heartbeat back to its resting pulse. As I do, my nostrils are filled with stale cigarette smoke that hung around from the night before like a party guest who’d passed out on the living room sofa after everybody else went home. The digital clock reads 4:06, nine minutes before my alarm was set to wake me. I need to use the restroom, but I can’t get out of bed unti
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From the Publisher

“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.

Editorial Reviews

“De Rossi’s memoir reminds us that fame and celebrity are no substitute for feeling comfortable in one’s own skin.”

—Jodi Picoult