Friday, December 7, 2018

Review: Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi

Title: Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
Author: Portia de Rossi
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: November 1, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "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."

My Two Cents:

"Unbearable Lightness" is a memoir by the actress Portia de Rossi, well known for her roles on "Arrested Development" (one of my personal favorites!) and "Ally McBeal." It chronicles her struggle with anorexia and how she finally got help. While it was hard to read sometimes because the subject matter was so difficult, I appreciated how honest and real this memoir is!

Having known a lot of people that have struggled with eating disorders, I think books like this are terribly important. Hollywood actresses are supposed to be thin and lithe but they are never supposed to cop to the lengths they go through to get to that picture-perfect image. Portia de Rossi is gorgeous but got pressure throughout the book to look a certain way and to lose more weight. Having struggled with tendencies like that throughout her life, she quickly spirals out of control. She is honest throughout the book, even when her behavior gets frightening. The chapter where she is diagnosed with anorexia (and a host of other maladies all at one time - side effects from the eating disorder) is so effective!

I felt so bad for her throughout the book. I wanted to hug her and tell her she's beautiful and hoped that eventually she'd see that herself. If you have followed de Rossi's career and life, you know this story has a happy ending but as the book shows, de Rossi went through sooooo much to get to the point she's at now. This was a great memoir!



  1. Great review. It has to be difficult to put it all out there.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Thank you for the review. I did not know this part of her life. Courageous to talk about it.


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