The Unbearable Lightness
The Unbearable Lightness is actress Portia De Rossi’s first book, a memoir about her eating disorder and struggles to come out of the closet. After reading so many drug memoirs, nothing really shocks you after a certain point, and I thought that this book about anorexia would be the same-read one, read them all. I was happily surprised to find out I was wrong, this is actually a great book!
Portia de Rossi’s weight has been an issue for most of her life, although, interestingly enough, she never actually thought she had anorexia. The book begins in the middle of her life, after her move from Melbourne, Austrailia, right before she began Ally McBeal, and I liked that it didn’t start off with the usual boring tale of birth and childhood. There are flashbacks to her childhood, but only as they relate to her struggles with weight and modeling. The structure of the book is very refreshing!
De Rossi tells the book in an almost stream-of-concious way, every thought she has while struggling during her wardrobe fittings comes to the page in a very natural way. You follow de Rossi and are with her at every descision, nearly understanding her unusual train of thought when she cuts her calories from 14000 a day to 1,000, and then 800. During a particularly hectic day when she has one to many pieces of gum and goes crazy trying to burn calories sprinting in a mall parking lot, you honestly feel the frenetic energy of her madness. After yo-yo-ing at different weights and constantly returning to 130 pounds, de Rossi finally decideds to take matters into her own hands and count every single calorie, and attempt to burn calories at every opportunity. The downward spiral is a long and painful one, until de Rossi’s weight ends up in the 80-85 pound range, dangerously low. You root for her to triumph over anorexia the entire way, even if she does not paint herself in the most lovable of ways.
“I need to factor in the calories burned. Yesterday I got out of bed and walked directly to the treadmill and ran at 7.0 for 60 minutes for a total of negative 600 calories. I ate 60 calories of oatmeal with Splenda and butter spray and black coffee with one vanilla-flavored tablet. I didn’t eat anything at all at work. And at lunch I walked on the treadmill in my dressing room for the hour. Shit. I had only walked. The fan I had rigged on the treadmill to blow air directly into my face so my makeup wouldn’t be ruined had broken. That’s not true, actually. Because I’m so lazy and disorganized, I’d allowed the battery to run down so the plastic blades spun at the speed of a seaside Ferris wheel. I need that fan because my makeup artist is holding me on virtual probation at work. While I am able to calm down the flyaway hairs that spring up on my head after a rigorous workout, the mascara residue that deposits under my eyes tells the story of my activities during my lunch break. She had asked me to stop working out at lunch. I like Sarah and I don’t want to make her job more difficult, but quitting my lunchtime workout isn’t an option. So I bought a fan and some rope and put together a rig that, when powered by fully charged batteries, simulates a head-on gale-force wind and keeps me out of trouble.”
I feel like this was such an honest memoir, there is no embarrassing moment left out. . In the end, it’s simply a very poignant tale about self-acceptance, a topic that everyone has struggled with at one time or another. Surprisingly great read!