Portia De Rossi, Unbearable Lightness
A wrenching yet fascinating examination of self-hatred, obsession and recovery
Readers may know Portia de Rossi from her turn as a chilly lawyer on Ally McBeal or as a self-centered flibbertigibbet on Arrested Development, or from tabloid stories about too-thin celebrities or, most famously, as the wife of Ellen DeGeneres. But until now, the Australian actress with the American accent hasn’t shared much of her personal life with the public. In Unbearable Lightness, she finally reveals her past, and the results are painful, raw and powerful. Born Amanda Rogers, the former law student and eventual model and actress turned inward due to her self-imposed closeted sexuality and weight issues that flared into full-fledged disorder (which included such habits as eating a solitary tin of tuna for dinner with chopsticks, in order to make each flake of fish last longer.) De Rossi is honest about the depth of her mental illness, revealing a propensity to connect thinness with cleanliness and virtue, and extra weight with sloppiness and lack of control. What’s particularly sad about De Rossi’s saga is that while her anorexia worried her friends and family, it was, perversely, something to be admired amongst some of her Hollywood colleagues, who found her pre-McBeal size-6 frame a bulky burden. Lightness is a wrenching yet fascinating examination of self-hatred, obsession and, ultimately, a redemptive but not easy recovery.