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4.6 out of 5 stars
168
4.6 out of 5 stars
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2016
Back in the late 1990s I was a massive fan of the TV show Ally McBeal (though something tells me I'd probably hate it nearly 20 years later) so I knew Portia de Rossi as the ice-maiden blonde lawyer Nelle. More recently I knew her through her rebirth as Mrs Ellen de Generes and, like many people I'm sure, I had wondered how one became the other.

I would have had no idea that under the steely blonde exterior, Ms de Rossi was a quivering heap of insecurities and self-doubt. I guess many of us suspect that actresses are just having a wonderful time, and Portia clearly wasn't. 'Unbearable Lightness' is a shockingly frank account of her years of dietary abuse and eating disorders as well as her battles with the demon of her sexuality.

I found the book fascinating and surprisingly well written (given I'd seen many reviews moaning about poor editing - perhaps that got fixed since the first edition) and hard to put down.

So why only 3 stars?

I think de Rossi may have needed to be a little more guarded in what she wrote. I say that because I fear this book is at risk of being used by vulnerable people as a 'how to' guide to eating disorders. Any would-be or half-way anorexic or bulimic will find within the covers a frightening array of tips on how to stay skinny or get skinny and may fail to pick up on the messages that it's not a smart thing to do. de Rossi did things to her body that seem insane to the casual reader but they worked - temporarily of course, but they were still effective. Any desperate person looking to shift 5-10 pounds very quickly and willing to eat miniscule portions of tuna with chopsticks will find plenty of short-term effective ideas on how to do that. I think there are too many 'triggers' and too many hot tips. The use of 'Cheetos' as an marker food to help the bulimic know how much they've vomited will stay with me as a particular disturbing image.

I've never had an eating disorder and never felt vulnerable to such things but I know that others aren't so lucky. I wish de Rossi had held back a little on the techniques she employed as I'm sure there are readers who will be tempted to try those techniques for themselves.
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on 13 January 2017
Amazing. After 4 years of bulimia, this was the thing that helped me want to get better the most. More than therapy, group sessions, other self help books, etc.
The honesty and story is so honest, it gives an incredibly real insight into what it's like to have an ED.
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on 14 July 2017
It is important to bring attention to this problem especially by celebrities. Huge respect for coming out and admitting the issue. But this is not a geat read and lacking a deeper insight and reflection
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on 23 August 2017
An honest, vulnerable memoir that portrays the stark and brutal reality of living with an eating disorder perfectly. A though-provoking read, not for those who may be triggered by descriptions of binging, purging, calorie counting, excessive exercise or restrictive eating.
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on 24 September 2017
I have never been happy with who I am and what i look like, reading this book has truly inspired me to try and work on my own issues around the person I am and how my body issues affect my everyday self esteem and ability to enjoy my life fully xx
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on 26 September 2017
Pure inspiration for anorexics or others with eating disorders. Would not recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 29 June 2012
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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on 11 April 2017
Portia de Rossi informs us of anorexia but I do wish there had been more on other things, like her brother and her relationship with Ellen Degeneres.
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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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on 22 October 2014
A good, easy read. De Rossi is honest about her struggles, and the reality of disordered eating as she experienced it. There is no over-simplification or blame of any single factor, but she clearly shows how the culture of 'Hollywood' played its part in her illness.
She is also honest about how difficult it was for her to come to terms with her sexuality, and shows the pressure that being closeted exerted on her.
This book has a happy ending, giving an insight into what a cute couple she and Ellen are.
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