Book: Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
Author: Portia De Rossi
Publisher/publish date: Simon and Schuster/ 2010
Where I got it: Barnes and Noble
I am usually the last person who would ever read a celebrity memoir. I usually think they’re pretty stupid and a waste of time. But something kept drawing me to Portia De Rossi’s book. I don’t know if it is my love of Arrested Development that had me wanting to know more about her, but for some reason or another I picked it up. And it was really good.
De Rossi’s memoir focused on the struggle with crash dieting that she had throughout her lifetime, and how her diet turned into full-blown anorexia. I must admit that I was not expecting the quality of the writing to be very good. But De Rossi’s writing was moving. What surprised me is that even though De Rossi has recovered from her disorder, she had the writing ability to make the reader feel as though they were experiencing it along with her.
The feeling I felt most while reading this, besides heartbreak, was shock. But it wasn’t shock towards her habits or the anorexia itself, but it was towards the people around her. It is very clear that the Hollywood mindset of skinny is better is what pushed De Rossi into this. (In addition to Portia’s own reasoning – that she was forever striving to be seen as normal and not homosexual. Since skinny is normal, then by all means, skinner is better). When she was getting prepped for a photo shoot, stylists were disappointed when she was a size 8 because she was too big. While she was losing weight people were complimenting her and telling her how great she looked. When she weighed 90 pound, the tailor of the show she was in told her she looked great, and she was her favorite cast member to dress. WHAT? HOW CAN PEOPLE THINK THIS? I mean seriously. She was a stick, and everyone in Hollywood thought she looked amazing. It wasn’t until she went home for the holidays that people, her family and strangers, expressed concern for her. That is what I found most heartbreaking and shocking.
While she was working on a film, she collapsed at 82 pounds. Until now, De Rossi did not include photos. However when she was describing the various organ failures she built up, she included pictures of how small she was. Again, the only word I can think of to describe that was heartbreaking. Seeing the pictures is the point where I broke down and started crying.
I hate that our society pushes people to the point of starvation, in order to feel beautiful. I hate that Portia De Rossi had to go through that. However, I am glad she is better and I am glad that she was brave enough to share her story of anorexia. It is well worth a read (and it’s a pretty quick read – took me 3 days).
Rating: 4 stars