Book Review: Unbearable Lightness

I had no idea who Portia de Rossi was until she started dating and eventually marrying Ellen Degeneres. I had never watched Ally McBeal (I’m a little young for that) and I never watched Arrested Development until a couple weeks ago (all the episodes are on Netflix  on demand if you are interested)

Anyway, I saw an interview Ellen had on her show with Portia from last year as Portia discussed her new book. Unbearable Lightness is the story of Portia’s struggle with weight and eating disorders that she faced throughout most of her life. Portia began modeling at age 12, and shortly after began to worry so much about her weight gain that she became bulimic. This continued until her mid-twenties when Portia became part of the cast of Ally McBeal. The fame and publicity that came with the show forced her to feel even more pressure to become thin. She eventually became so obsessed with diet and exercise that she suffered from anorexia and eventually was hospitalized.

I have never suffered from an eating disorder, but I can easily see how some girls have.  At 130 pounds, a very healthy and thin weight for someone of Portia’s height, she felt much too large for the acting/ modeling industry. The sad part was she actually experienced several situations where people did make her feel as though she was too heavy for her career. At one clothing fitting Portia was unable to fit into a sample size pant suit. After an hour of trying on sizes the stylist finally shouted out in a disgusted tone, “Nobody told me she was a size 8!” As Portia began to diet uncontrollably, instead of voicing concern about Portia’s health, models and stylists praised her for her impressive devotion to dieting. It wasn’t until her family and friends began to see her that she started to hear negative feedback from dieting, and by that point she was unwilling to listen to anyone who told her to gain more weight.

Ten years later Portia lives a healthy lifestyle and has conquered her eating disorders. However I can tell, even by the ending of the novel, that Portia still struggles with her self-confidence and appreciation for her body. I assume that is something most eating disorder victims will always suffer from. A great thing about this book is that Portia is likable and easy to relate to throughout the entire story, even when she is discussing some of her darkest and most terrible moments.  Often times books that have to do with a destructive lifestyle bother me because I just don’t understand why these people decide to make such poor life decisions. Because Portia was so genuine in the novel, it actually helped me understand eating disorders more clearly. These disorders really do take over your mind and lifestyle and you have such a warped sense of body image and what a healthy person (specifically women) is supposed to look like.

If this story sounds interesting to you I would recommend this book. It is an easy read and very engaging.

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