Unbearable Lightness

  • by Portia de Rossi
  • Narrated by Portia de Rossi
  • 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

“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.

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What the Critics Say

“Breathtakingly honest, brutal and beautiful.” (Jonathan Safran Foer)
“Possibly the best book on the subject ever written. De Rossi is the real deal, a fine writer with a sharp mind and substance. This rich, layered book of remarkable courage, power, and significance will serve as life-changing inspiration for many.” (Augusten Burroughs)
“De Rossi tells her story with genuine insight and unflinching honesty. You will cheer her on.” —Jeannette Walls

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautifully Sad

How someone could hate themselves so much is astonishing. This is a beautifully written yet heartbreaking book. I enjoyed that it is read by Portia herself, her warm voice soothes you over even as you wish you could go back to that time and grab her and shake her and tell her that she was beautiful and to stop hating herself! I was engrossed from the first sentence.
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- Dawn

Painful

Very, very hard to read. The day to day horror of being anorexic/bulemic literally made me sick to my stomach. Her body image was very much tied into the fact that she was hiding her homosexuality and trying to portray the story of someone else...someone that she thought would please her mother and the world. Once she was willing to come out and risk her career, she was able to begin healing the eating disorder. Her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres is not featured in the book and only mentioned at the very end. Painful, but moving.
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- Dina

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-01-2010
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio