Recovery Begins – “Unbearable Lightness” by Portia de Rossi
During a trip home to Australia to visit her family, her mother tried desperately to feed her, and her brother broke down in tears and told her she was going to die. In de Rossi’s mind, she was doing her job – as an actress/model, she should fit into any dress, no matter how small the size the designers handed her.
“Unbearable Lightness” is de Rossi’s completely honest memoir of her lifetime spent battling anorexia. In the book, plucky and ambitious Australian-born Amanda Rogers becomes Portia de Rossi, star of the hit TV show “Ally McBeal.” In order to accomplish this goal, become successful, and maintain her success, she becomes fixated on food in a super unhealthy way. de Rossi’s quest for perfection drives to her unbelievable lengths – for example, eating 1/2 a packet of oatmeal for an entire day. At one point, she chews several sticks of 5 calorie gum on a quest for a quick sugar kick, and then, obsessed with burning off the calories the gum has brought into her system, winds up not only leaving her car door wide open in the parking lot of her building, but also forgetting that her tiny dog is locked outside in the cold.
The sad part is, other than her family and friends, everyone surrounding her in the showbiz world just kept telling her how great and thin she looked. Says something pathetic and sad about our media’s fascination with looks, doesn’t it?
All of this is recalled in alarming detail – down to the calorie, in many cases. This is a lady telling her true story.
In an epilogue, de Rossi admits that while she’s better than she used to be, she’s still not – and will likely never be – completely cured. As someone in the public eye, the cameras will always be on her and her self-esteem issues will always be there. At least for the time being, though, she’s in a happy relationship (and continuing to work on great projects like the beloved “Arrested Development”) and working on it.
The road to recovery is a long one. “Unbearable Lightness” is an unflinching look at a terrible illness and how one successful woman struggled with it. Hopefully, this book can help others dealing with the same kind of issues. Eating disorders are prevalent in this society, and if de Rossi’s being open can help a couple people, it’s a blessing.