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4.6 out of 5 stars
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2010
I couldn't put this book down, a brave, brave account of living a life with a eating disorder. Portia goes to hell and back, a must read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2010
literally didn't put it down, was finished with it within a day and a half of it coming through the door! This is the first approach toward the issue of eating disorders i've seen that doesn't feel patronising, but enables you to go on a journey with someone who truely understand the issues that you face. Portia's been the first person to really capture that sense of glee and excitment you get when that scale drops another fraction, she is the first person, to my knowledge, who's been unafraid to honestly lay bare the almost bipolar aspect of having an eating disorder. Taking you from the humiliating feeling of being unsuitable for public viewing right through to extact sense of joy when you're at your 'perfect weight', and the almost exhibitionist factor it brings! Through doing this she uncovers exactly how dangerous and unmaintable it is to live with a eating disorder. Either you're miserable and literally feel like your not worthy of human interation or your happy with yourself but at the cost of cutting out family, causing massive sorrow and literally killing yourself. No holding back, this books states it as it is, either get better or you'll die one way or another.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2010
As someone who has struggled with weight issues for most of my life, I found Portia de Rossi's memoir both emotional and unsettling. She so accurately portrays the experiences of anorexia - the isolation and the feelings of total and utter imprisonment - that I was transported back to a terrible time in my life. The best news is that this book has made me determined never to revisit that time ever again. This is an account filled with sadness, but also hope. I would recommend it to anybody who has ever suffered from, or loved anybody with, eating problems.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2011
I picked up this book being curious about Portia de Rossi of ALly McBeal fame. What I found was someone totally misunderstood who what nearly the opposite of what she portrayed on the outside. Having no experience of eating disorders personally, I found her story honest, un-prettified and eye opening. That she was in such a state physically and that yet in her hollywood world it passed as normal is beyond me. It is an enlightening read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2012
I went to school with Portia. We were at Taylor's College in Melbourne, Australia. I didn't know her personally, I'd only ever heard about her and seen her with her friends. She was always surrounded by a group of kids that always to me seemed like her protectors: she'd be in the centre. She was naturally stunning and she had a light flow and bounce about her. I always assumed that she came from an incredibly wealthy family. i always just assumed her family life was perfect. I never ever would have guessed that she effectively became an adult at 12.

I remember watching Ally McBeal (my favourite character was Ling Woo played by Lucy Liu, prior to Portia joining). I remember the episode that Portia joined - I squealed - I know her! I know her! (of course I didn't actually "know" her, we'd gone to the same school and same year, back then that was practically like saying she's my friend). I remember saying to those that I had said "i know her! I know her!" how incredible she looked and how confident she seemed. The show then just got even better. She was tremendous: direct, convincing and it seemed so effortless.

I also really liked Ellen - I remember her sit com: I'd be in hysterics each week from watching the show. Every character ever line was just perfect. I bought her first book 'My Point...And I Do Have One' - what a book! wow!

Then one day I heard that Ellen's show had been cancelled or something because she informed people that she was a lesbian. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what her professional life had to do with her personal life. It was outrageous. If that had happened in a non-celebrity's life the company/organisation would be sued for unfair dismissal. Thankfully someone in celebrity land came to their sense and Ellen was back. The woman had changed at all. One day she was Ellen with her personal life no one else's business, the next she was Ellen with her personal life everybody's business.

Some years on, I saw a photo of Ellen and Portia - I just kept thinking these two people look like they're the happiest people alive. There's a shimmer in their eyes. Every photo of them, there's just something about them together that looks perfect. Looks like it's meant to be.

I recommend this book to everyone. Portia writes eloquently and is able to articulate even the most heart wrenching emotion with such clarity and such kind-bluntness (raw) that it's just so mind blowing.

The truly wonderful thing about her journey is that you know that if she didn't go through it, she'd not be with Ellen and because it's obvious that Ellen and her are soulmates, it forces you to realise that everything has a reason and a purpose.

I truly new knew on so many levels.

Extraordinary!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2012
I've been eager to read this since de Rossi wrote her account of surviving a life-threatening eating disorder. And I was not disappointed.

I have suffered for many years with anorexia and was interested to hear how she managed to overcome her disorder, especially with the unimaginable pressure of being a Hollywood actress.

I had never realised the extent to which Portia suffered with her eating disorders and the lengths at which she struggled, to the point where her life was in danger. She writes eloquently and beautifully about her endless days of starvation and over-exercise: the mania and obsession is palpable. She sucks you into her world where life centres around losing weight by any means possible, no matter how destructive.

Many passages are heartbreaking to read, especially when you have thoughts those very same things yourself. It is scary to see how someone can rationalise what are clearly illogical thoughts into being something quite understandable.

It is very raw and difficult in places - her self-hatred and loathing towards herself is painful, magnified by the press attention that she received through her fame on Ally McBeal. It is interesting, if not saddening, to read how popular magazines can seriously affect the mental health of those in the public eye - it caused me to reflect how we pick up the magazine, read the gossip and forget the person behind it (and almost imply that they deserve it for being famous) and yet they could be suffering in this very same harrowing way, starving to death whilst everyone watches and points.

Portia's story is so uplifting and has touched me incredibly. Her recovery has inspired me to pursue my own because of the beauty that she writes about to experience in life.

Thank you Portia, for a wonderful book and for baring your soul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2011
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain deals with the ever-present issues women deal with concerning self-worth. Portia describes in great detail her history of disordered eating habits that led to her dealing with anorexia and bulimia and how she struggled to finally overcome it. It is beautifully written book that shows an insight into an anorexics mind (without being triggering) and is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2011
I felt compelled to write a review of this book as it was just so well written and so inspiring. Porita writes such an honest account of the hell someone goes through with an eating disorder. I could relate to everything in the book and all the feelings and thoughts she had about herself and the world. It was so inspiring to me to see how she overcame the illness and the truth of what you go through with recovery.

It was so comforting to know there is someone else out there who saw/sees herself the way I do and felt/feels the same about the world and life. I think anyone who has gone through or is struggling with the terrible disease of an eating disorder or self hatred should read this book including loved ones of sufferers as it really pulls you in to the hell someone feels and faces when going through it.
It is written with such honesty all the thoughts and feelings that sufferers think anf feel but rarely vocalise. It is quite triggering as it does go through the foods she ate, the weights she got to and the amount and type of exercise she did but if your in a safe enough place to be able to cope with that I think you will get alot out of this book.

I feel I know Portia so well after reading it and it leaves you feeling like you wish she was your friend and wanting to know her personally and how she is doing today. Its so sad that alot of people who suffer and go through eating disorders or who have so much self hatred are normally the most caring,loving and insightful people there are out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Like most people, I know Portia de Rossi through the great past Ally McBeal serie. I was therefore very intrigued to see that she had written this autobiography that seemed so far away from the glamourous life I assumed she had. Her terrifying account of her weight problems over twenty years is simply devastating to read. It is very well written and totally keeps you hooked, as pages after pages, you can hardly believe the hell this young woman puts herself through. It is raw, honest, written in blood and very painful. But also a tremendously hopeful testimony that even when you reach the lowest point, one day eventually, things start slowly to turn round and light appears at the end of the tunnel...It strucked me though, that it took no less than 9/11 for Portia to wake-up to reality, a reality that is not counted in kilograms, but a reality of urgent living and love. Seeing her now so happy and well with Ellen de Generes, I realise that she has come a long way and truly deserves every second of this happiness. I hope her brave and beautiful book will help others to overcome their personal hell too. An essential read even if you have never been anorexic, because it is a vibrant account of someone fighting nearly to death with their inner demons. And we all have them, whatever names they take on.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2011
I don't really write reviews online as I often think that I would really have much to say other than a sentence or two, but I feel that others (like myself) may judge this book if they aren't into biographies, particularly biographies of 'celebrities' and not your stereotypical stars (like Marilyn and co). I knew of and liked Portia through Arrested Development but never thought that she'd done enough to merit an autobiography before this.

I bought this book for my sister and only picked it up after it was left lying around in the house. Engaging from the beginning, this book is intelligently and thoughtfully written. It doesn't feel as formulaic as the standard autobiography format, and the inserted photographs only serve to emphasize Portia's mental and physical decline as her dramatic health problems are listed beside studio photographs. The story is also told in the less standard childhood/fame route. Instead Portia seamlessly interweaves recollections from her childhood and links them with the trials she faced as a grown woman. She discusses her crippling obsession with calorie counting (and her food binges), her confusion about her sexuality (not about being straight but about how to be gay) and the pressures she felt from a young age about her image and her self-worth. The story is told with such honesty and insight that I couldn't help but feel touched when she finally reached a state of self-acceptance, and it has allowed me to be angry (again) about the mass media approach towards beauty and feminism. A starkly honest story which deserves to be read. This is a beautiful book and I plan to buy my own copy, treasure it, and if I ever have a daughter, I will ask her to read it. This book is an education in self-esteem, eating disorders, and happiness. I can't recommend it enough.
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